Makaza returns to Doha

HARARE - Collen Makaza will be satisfied with nothing short of victory when he lines up for the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) 50km World Championship in Doha, Qatar on Friday.

At least 21 nations have confirmed participation of their athletes in the race which features over 100 of the world’s best long-distance runners competing for titles in male, female and group races.

Makaza returns to the race two years after his time of 3:00:41 ensured he won IAU 50km World Trophy Final in the same city.

It was Makaza’s second victory in the event, following his 2:47:22 win in Galway four years earlier.

The unassuming athlete did not compete in last year’s event as he went on to break his own Legends’ Ultramarathon record by almost five minutes in East London, South Africa last year in October.

Now at the homestretch of his career, the prison officer feels he still has the arsenal to challenge for honours.

In last year’s lAU World 50km championships, Zimbabwe’s Mike Fokoroni finished fifth and compatriot Shingie Badza placed 15th.

“My preparations have been going well,” Makaza said. “I have been gearing up for this event by participating in the Westgate 21km, the PPC 21km and Vumba 21km to prepare my mind.

“I’m really calm considering I won this race in 2010 in Ireland. In 2012 in Italy I finished second in a time of 2hours 53 min . . . then I picked myself and won it again in Doha which is the same venue this year. So I am pretty confident.”

Makaza, who trains with Zimbabwe Prison Correctional Services Athletics Club, says his expectations are simple.

“I want to come home on the 15th of November as a world champion. I have done it before and that experience will count,” he said.

The Chitungwiza-based athlete has been quietly gaining a reputation as an African ultramarathon king.

Makaza is a record holder of Comrades Marathon half way 45km and Chatsworth marathon record holder 50km and the east London legends marathon 68km.

At 36, Makaza feels he does not have a lot left in the tank.

He looks back on his career with a sense of nostalgia and believes he could have scaled greater heights had he meticulously mapped out his career, dropping non-essential races and picking the ones he knew he had a chance to win.

Instead, like many other ambitious Zimbabwean long distance runners, Makaza felt he had to run as much as his youthful legs could carry him, in preparation for a rainy day.

It proved to be a grave error of sorts, just as it has been for his countryman Stephen Muzhingi who won the Comrades Marathon on three consecutive occasions, before it ultimately took its toll on his body.

Makaza believes he has four more years left in him to wrap up his retirement package and Doha could be that step to ending it all in style.

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