The sleepy mining town of Selibe Phikwe is expected to come alive this weekend as hundreds of runners and spectators descend on it for the annual Orange Phikwe National Marathon.
The race, which is one of the longest running in the country, will be ran this coming Saturday. With thousands of Pulas in prize monies and a chance to qualify for international races on offer, the race is expected to attract a cream of both local and international marathon runners. Speaking in an interview, Orange Phikwe National Marathon Local Organising Committee (LOC) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Kennedy Dudzayi said the race had already registered more than 700 athletes this past Monday. According to the Orange Phikwe National Marathon LOC PRO, the athletes will compete in at least four categories, being the 42.2km marathon, 15km race, 10 km race as well as the 4km fun run.
“As you may be well aware, this race has always attracted international athletes, more especially from the neighbouring Zimbabwe. Interestingly, this year, we have for the first time registered entries from Namibia where one of the clubs there has registered at least ten (10) athletes to compete here on Sunday,” the LOC PRO explained.
He said given the number of people showing interest, they still expect to have registered even more athletes when the race registration ends this Wednesday. Meanwhile, Dudzayi says as the marathon organisers, they are working around the clock to ensure the event continues to grow and attract more athletes. He says as Selibe Phikwe continues to struggle economically, the marathon offers the mining town alternatives to diversify its struggling economy. With the copper and nickel mining reliant town facing some tough times, Dudzayi said the continued success of the marathon has offered glimpses of what sport tourism can bring to the town. “This event has shown it has the potential to attract a lot of people into the city. As a matter of fact, by this past Thursday, all the hotels in this town were fully booked as people prepare to come into the town, either as athletes, spectators or just visitors. The spill off from the event will also drip down to the hawkers and other small businesses as people start descending into our town,” Dudzayi explained.
The Orange Phikwe National Marathon has been sponsored to the tune of P600 000 by Orange Botswana over a period of three years, at a tune of P200 000 per year. According to Dudzayi, the sponsorship money will be mostly channelled towards prize monies. The winners of the 42.2 km main race will walk away with P25 000, with the runners up to fifth position getting P15 000, P10 000, P7 500 and P5 000 in that order. Other prize monies will go towards the other races, with prize monies expected to be equal between both men and women.