With the global pandemic known as coronavirus still taking the World by storm, limited racing opportunities made it very difficult for athletes to achieve the Olympic Gamers standard with the games itself pushed out by one year. Together with World Athletics, the Xiamen Marathon & Tuscany Camp global elite marathon was born and takes place this weekend.
With a host of World class international athletes descending to the Ampugnano airport in Italy, the Nedbank running club will have athletes representing the club in both the men’s and women’s race. Today we preview the men’s athletes with a preview of the women’s athletes later this week.
Representing Nedbank running club Zimbabwe are Isaac Mpofu and Ngonidzashe Ncube both talented runners who finished 52nd and 34th in the extreme heat of the 2019 Doha World Championships Marathon.
Coached and managed by athlete manager Craig Fry, the athletes have had their best training block coming into this weekend’s race where they have prepared in Harare, Zimbabwe. “The guys are probably in their best marathon shape they have ever been in,” said Fry. “They were actually supposed to train in South Africa with me but due to Covid could not get here. So, each week I send them the schedule and daily check their GPS watches to ensure it was done properly. From there we see how the body is responding and we make adjustments if we need to.”
After both gaining International experience representing Zimbabwe at the Doha World Championships, the hunger to achieve more and be on the ultimate stage which is the Olympic Games is a driving force for Mpofu and Ncube. With marathon bests of 2:15:10 for Mpofu and 2:14:15 for Ncube, they will need to find something special on race day in order to dip under the automatic qualifying time of 2:11:30.
“The course in Sienna is very fast, actually faster than the Berlin Marathon which holds the World record we have been told,” says Fry. “I would say that the guys are in 2:09 shape currently based off what they have done in training, but truth be told we are not looking at going for a win or top positions. The goal is to run under 2:11:30 to qualify for Olympics and we will go out at a sensible pace and not chase fast times. Those opportunities can come after the Olympic Games.”
Stay tuned as we bring you a preview later this week of the Nedbank running club athletes who will be taking part in the ladies race, with some exciting stuff planned for the record books!