PPC marathon champ ready to defend title

Raymond Jaravaza
THE chance to win the countrya��s premium race back to back and write his own piece of history is enough motivation for PCC Matopos 33 Miler Ultra Marathon defending champion Lyno Muchena when the elite showcase starts at the Matopo National Park en route to the Bulawayo Athletic Club on 3 April.

For Muchena a�� a Mutare-based Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services road runner a�� the increased prize money from last yeara��s $750 to $850 is an icing on the cake if he crosses the line ahead of what promises to be a star-studded race.

Notable athletes and the general public usually make a last minute rush to register a day before the marathon making it virtually impossible to gauge the strength of opponents the defending champion is likely to face.

Registration opens Saturday at the Bulawayo Athletics Club.

a�?I try not to think about my toughest opponents before such a major race and concentrate on my own training. Ita��s always difficult to defend the PPC Ultra Marathon but I have the chance to do it and at the same time write my own piece of history as an athlete,a�? said Muchena speaking from his base in Mutare in the build-up to the marathon during the week.

Last year he won the race in 3 hours 13 minutes 59 seconds while Lizzie Chikore crossed the line in 3 hours 52 minutes 22 seconds.

a�?Ita��s more interesting that the race is being used as a qualifying race for the Comrades Marathon in South Africa so Ia��m working hard to better the time I clocked last year,a�? he said.

The course of the marathon which starts from the Matopo National Park has been measured and certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and also serves as a qualifying event for the Comrades Marathon in South Africa.

The total prize package for the marathon has been increased to $13 000 from last yeara��s $10 000.

The marathon has been sponsored by PPC Zimbabwe since 2013 with this yeara��s edition expected to be broadcast throughout the continent by subscription channel SuperSport as witnessed in the 2015 event.

The marathon has grown in leaps and bounds with slightly over 300 participants in 2014, a figure that ballooned to over 500 last year.

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