Local athletes lost against their personal best in the 6th Lady K. RUN21K on Sunday which was seen as a dress rehearsal for the Diacore Gaborone Marathon (DGM) which is the longest (42km) marathon in the country. The slower time has however not dampened their spirit.
The DGM race is expected to pit local long distance runners against competitors from all over the world. There are concerns that the slower than personal best times clocked by local runners at the6th Lady K. RUN21K race portends a poor showing by local athletes at the DGM race early May in Gaborone where the fastest runner will walk away with P 1 million prize money. Local athletes have however allayed the anxiety among local supporters.
All winning local athletes were unable to keep up with or beat their personal records in the Lady K. RUN21K. The race by its nature is one of the most difficult in the city as it leads runners into the difficult bush terrain, and more so this year because of the recent downpours. The route as usual was both on and off road. 1600 runners took part this year in the 5, 10 and 21.1 kilometre (km) distances and the categories were master, veteran, open and junior.
Rapula Diphoko who was the fastest runner of the day said the difficulty of the trail made it the perfect preparation for DGM. “I am not really concerned about the fact that I was not able to beat my personal time. I just loved that the trail run was extremely challenging and therefore the perfect preparation for Diacore Gaborone Marathon,” said Diphoko.
He scooped first position in male 21.1 km category clocking 1 hour 6 minutes and 28 seconds. “My time for this year was 3 minutes slower than what it was last year. I was slowed down by the mud, water and rocks that we had to contend with along the trail. For me it was perfect training for Diacore which I am now really looking forward to,” Diphoko said.
Meanwhile the fastest female of the day Kealeboga Bulolo completed the race in 1 hour 25 minutes and 55 seconds and said she had also slowed down significantly compared to last year. Bulolo said she was also not so worried about her time but was rather grateful for the opportunity to train on the tough terrain. “I never train off road because I am scared of going off into the bush to run by myself. The Lady K. RUN21K could not have come at a better time for me. It was very necessary for me to go through the difficulty as I am now better prepared for the upcoming Diacore,” she said.
For his part, Trust Coordinator at Lady Khama Charitable Trust Dale Tar Haar said their annual initiative has seen tremendous growth over the years. “Each year our half marathon shows considerable growth in runner and spectator participation. We have also received tremendous support from more corporate sponsors this year who have become the heartbeat of our initiative,” said Tar Haar.
All the 1600 runners received finisher medals. The first and second prizes in all categories were sponsored by JB Sports Botswana and Slow Mag Botswana in the form of P250.00 shopping vouchers. Third prizes were sponsored by Choppies also in the form of P250.00 grocery vouchers.