Ray Bande in MUTARE
MORE than 1 000 middle and long-distance runners will rub shoulders in the undulating terrain of the eastern border city of Mutare when the exciting Tanganda Tea Company half-marathon bounces back on Sunday after a two-year hiatus.
The prestigious Tanganda Tea Company’s yearly half-marathon beginnings can be traced to the late 1980s.
The half-marathon was held yearly until 2002 when it then took a sabbatical and came back in 2012.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the half-marathon was not held in 2020 and 2021.
In an interview, Manicaland Athletics Club chairperson, Joshua “Zesa’’ Matume confirmed that they are expecting more than 1 000 athletes for this year’s edition.
Matume said foreign athletes, including the highly rated Kenyans, have been inquiring about the event.
“Starting point for all race categories is at Mutare Sports Club. This is along Park Road. All race categories will finish at the Mutare Sports Club. Athletes are strongly advised to visit the Tanganda Tea Company website to have sight of the new route before race day.
“We are expecting to have more than 1 000 athletes for this year’s edition of the Tandanda Tea half-marathon. We are excited that the race has generated a lot of interest with foreign athletes also making inquiries including some Kenyans,” the Marymount Teachers’ College physical education studies lecturer said.
In a statement responding to questions sent by this newspaper, Tanganda Tea Company outlined the half-marathon’s objectives.
“Tanganda Tea is a cultural brand and this half-marathon presents the brand with an opportunity to interact with the community, bringing them together while at the same time appreciating the support the brand (Tanganda Tea) gets from the same community by promoting talent.
“By awarding prizes, we will be appreciating consumers of our brand and at the same time promoting talent,” reads the statement.
“The Tanganda Tea half-marathon is meant to promote sport, fitness and fun at the same time. The race itself is a test of endurance, it promotes fitness. The climatic conditions and the undulating mountainous terrain in Mutare are the perfect place for such a half-marathon. The half-marathon actually compliments the endurance of the Tanganda Tea brand in the Zimbabwean market and beyond.
“Some of the Tanganda Tea bushes were planted as far back as 1924 and through care and maintenance, these still look young and vibrant. Tanganda Tea is a natural and strong tea. We have a lot of teas introduced into the market well after Tanganda Tea but they gradually fizzled out. They could not withstand the endurance,” reads the statement from Tanganda Tea Company.
The diversified agribusiness company noted that the fun race category will also encourages exercise in a pleasurable way.
“Participants will find this race very gratifying or heart warming. They will find it very uplifting just like the Tanganda Tea brand which gives that uplifted inner self.
“It is also part of our objective to show our respect to the Ministry of Sport (Government) and National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ). Apart from creating employment for locals, the company through this marathon is also complimenting Government efforts in promoting sport.
“The Government realises the importance of sport hence the establishment of a fully-fledged Ministry of Sport. Through this half-marathon, we are showing our respect to national, regional and international athletics bodies. We all know that the Manicaland Athletics Board (MAB) and the NAAZ use this half-marathon for the selection of athletics to represent the country at various levels — both locally and international.
“Therefore, this half-marathon is therefore our way of showing respect to these bodies,” further reads the statement.