Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter
LONG-DISTANCE runner Fortunate Chidzivo says she has shifted her focus to marathon as she seeks qualification to next year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. She is scheduled to compete in the NMB 1 City Marathon, in South Africa, in December.
It will mark her first attempt towards qualification for next year’s World Championships. So far she has had one of her best seasons, competing in a number of races in South Africa, mainly half-marathons and 10km races as part of the preparatory work for the marathon.
She won all the four 21km races she took part in this year, including the Two Oceans half-marathon in April.
Chidzivo recently won the OUTsurance Gun Run 21.1km half-marathon in Cape Town.
“Racing in South Africa this season was quite impressive, especially on half-marathons. I think it’s because of putting in the marathon work, so we had that strength and endurance to survive the half-marathons.
“I only did four 21km races this year and I won all of them.”
Chidzivo was named as one of the beneficiaries of the International Olympic Committee Solidarity Paris 2024 Scholarships by the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee in April and says it is allowing her to focus more on the targeted goals.
“It’s quite fortunate that ZOC (Zimbabwe Olympic Committee) found it possible to support me. So I am racing less than I used to do before and we are putting more focus on the goal than on running more races.
“You can’t train whilst you are hungry. You need something in the pocket to survive and when I don’t have support I end up over racing (to earn some money) instead of focusing on the goal.
“So this year we only raced four half-marathons and two 10km races and we are back into the final preparation of the marathon training.
“Now we are in a 10-week block for marathon. This is the first week, and then the 10th week we are racing in Port Elizabeth,” said Chidzivo.
Winning the races has also boosted her confidence and she said it’s an indication she is on the right track.
“I think we are close and the good thing is anything can happen in this race…I am going there without pressure because this is not the only race we are targeting. I am going with a mind of running a personal best not qualifying.
“So I am going with less pressure than the previous marathon I went to in May 2021. There was a lot of pressure and it was the final chance I had.
“But now I am going with less pressure, I am going there to experience the marathon, to make my body and my mind understand how to run a marathon at a high pace.
“So anything can happen. I might qualify on the day because I have less pressure on me. I have this chance and I also have another chance in May. So it gives me some room to breathe and anything can happen on the day,” said Chidzivo.
Chidzivo will be working with her husband Hillary Chifamba and her South Africa-based coach Chris Bruwer during this preparation phase.
“I am working with my husband. He is getting the training programme from the head coach Chris. He is my physical trainer since 2017.”
Chidzivo and South Africa-based Rutendo Nyahora are the leading female long-distance runners the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe expect to form the core of their team.
NAAZ president, Tendayi Tagara, said taking into account the two athletes’ experience having qualified for the global meet before and their recent form, they are hopeful of the two running the qualifying time.