01 Oct 2014 16:10pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 01 OCT (NAMPA) - Early Saturday morning, athletes braced chilly weather caused by an unexpected cold front from neighbouring South Africa to take part in the 29th annual Fish River Marathon and Cycling event.
The athletes had come from far and wide to take part in the event, which has become a flagship occurrence for the Keetmanshoop-based Nautesport Forum which has been at the helm of the event for the last seven years.
A media statement from the organisers of the event issued to Nampa on Tuesday said to the athletes delight, the weather warmed as the day went on and participants, friends, officials and supporters had fun while music played and muscles were exerted.
Joris Ketelaar, a runner from The Netherlands, has competed in half-marathons in many countries, but said the Fish River Marathon was by far the most jovial. He wants to return for the 30th competition.
It was also the first time that a wheelchair-bound athlete, Eugene Klaasen of the Western Cape, took part in the half-marathon category of the event.
Five physically-challenged people from Keetmanshoop likewise participated in some events.
Altogether 286 participants competed in the four main items - the 42,2 kilometre (km) marathon, 21,1 km half-marathon run as well as the 104 km and 54 km cycling races.
Other events were a 10 km fun walk within the Maritz Lodge reserve, a seven km jog for primary school- learners, a 42,2 km relay for the high-school learners (four athletes each ran 10,5 km), and the 54 km cycling relay (two cyclists each rode 27 km).
The winner in the men's category of the 42,2 km run was Aaron Tjivambi, who clocked a time of two hours, 30 minutes and 45 seconds (2:30,45), with Eliphas Shuuya in second place with 2:40,39.
Reonard Namupala took the top spot in the half-marathon in a time of 1:12,04; followed closely by John Mwatile in 1:13,14 and Tomas David with 1:15,59.
The 104 km cycling event was won by Jacques van Zyl in a time of 3:04,39; followed by Jaco Hanekom and Michael Pekalski in second and third places after a tight race, finishing in 3:09,08 and 3:09,09 respectively.
The 54 km cycling event was won by George Hamukwaya in a time of 1:36,11.
The main prizes reached a total of N.dollars 36 600.
All participants who completed their items each received a gold medal and a goodie bag with items sponsored by various companies.
As has become tradition at the marathon, each school- learner also received a free hamburger.
The newly-established Keetmanshoop Cycling Club riders showed off their new shirts sponsored by Hyundai/Kia.
Participants came from all over the country, including Windhoek, Mariental, Noordoewer, Rosh Pinah and Aussenkehr.
The Namibia Defence Force (NDF) team from Windhoek managed to collect a number of medals in the various categories which they entered.
The main sponsors of the Fish River Marathon and Cycling are Nedbank and Keetmans 1Stop/Wimpy.
Annette van Dyk, secretary of Nautesport Forum and chief organiser of the sports event and herself a seasoned marathon runner expressed gratitude to all the sponsors, participants, athletes, day officials and traffic control.
The water points were sponsored by SPUR, Bank Windhoek, First National Bank, Old Mutual, Desert Optiks, Quality Tyres and Wimpy.