Kenyan Koech wins JM Busha race

HARARE - Kenyan athlete Jennifer Koech celebrated peace and unity among Africans in style after romping to victory in the JM Busha 54 Races Women Open category yesterday.

The Nedbank-sponsored athlete was the first woman home in 3:44:59 ahead of Zimbabwean duo of Muchaneta Gwata and Chiyedza Chokore who finished second and third respectively in 4:00:14 and 4:02:35.

Monica Kativhu finished fourth; Rutendo Mapindu was in fifth place while Tawapo Bhiri (6th), Margreth Mahoma (7th), Banuelia Katesigwa (8th), Tabitha Kibet (9th) and
Linet Tomu completed the top 10.

For her efforts Koech walked home $3 000 richer, Gwata received $1 000 with Chokore getting $1 000.

“I did enjoy the race, the environment and most importantly the people from Zimbabwe made me feel at home. They are very welcoming even the organisers of the race were very organised. This is my first time here in Zimbabwe and I really love them so much for their hospitality,” Koech told the Daily News yesterday.

“I have been running in South Africa for over 10 years now. This was my first 54km race but I have done Two Oceans Marathon (56km) in SA and from here I will be going back to Kenya to train for the Mandela Marathon in SA.”

Chokore, who came in the race on the backdrop of winning the inaugural Bonaqua Marathon recently, was happy with third place in her maiden 54km race.

“This was my first ultra-marathon race, I’m used to 42km and less and can’t really complain much about my achievements. It is a great feeling, the terrain was alright and will take the positives from the race and hopefully I will come back stronger at next year’s race. In the meantime I will be concentrating on other events lined up locally,” Chokore said.

The Men’s Open 54km race was won by Andrew Chimbidzikai of Black Rhinos, who finished in 3:04:55 ahead of Air Force of Zimbabwe’s Peter Tumbare (3:05:27) and pre-race favourite Mike Fokoroni of Nedbank, who came third 3:05:40.

“It was a very difficult race given the fact that we had legends such as Fokorani in the same line-up so I was just trying to average myself with their pace hoping for a third place finish. We once raced together in the Two Oceans race in South Africa and naturally I had lots of respect for them and what they have achieved in this sport,” Chimbidzikai said.

“I had very good preparations, my aim was to go to Comrades Marathon in South Africa but I applied late for my passport and I’m yet to get it. I was in camp for three months in Mutare and then went on to compete in the Matopos Marathon in Bulawayo where I finished in first place as well. I did Comrades in 2016 and was in number 12 and last year I fared badly so was looking forward to redeem myself in this race.”

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