14 February 2013

Cameroon: Over 700 Athletes Expected in Buea

South West Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai led a verification team on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 1 pm, to visit the Molyko-Buea Stadium from where take-off for this year's Mount Cameroon Race of Hope is scheduled, on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 7 am.

Over 700 athletes are scheduled to compete. As assured by Dr. Njie Mbome, South West Regional Delegate of Public Health and chair of the Medical Sub-committee, some 45 medical staff have been deployed to cover the race. Also, some 400 troops shall be positioned along the race track to ensure security. The Water Committee, as at Wednesday was still crying out for water to be made available for transportation up Mount Cameroon latest today, Friday, February 15, 2013.

For the first time, the Mount Cameroon National Park Conservation will feature prominently at the event as their Manager promised Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai to supply T-Shirts for major winners of the race to raise awareness on their activities on the mountain. The South West Athletics Federation President, Motomby Mbome, gave assurances on key aspects of the race such as clearing of the track, cleaning the stadium, getting hostesses and preparing the grandstand. Motomby regretted that the main handicap remained the late disbursement of money, adding that he had pre-financed some work already.

Announcing the inspection outing on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 as he held the local preparatory meeting with the 14 sub-committees in his office, the Governor instructed that no stone be left unturned in all the aspects of preparations. Although the Molyko Stadium Director complained of lack of water and electricity at the site, the Governor reminded the authorities in charge of the utilities that it was an international event requiring utmost attention for the good image of Cameroon. He reiterated that this year's race is a prelude to the awaited celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cameroon's reunification.

John Ekema from Buea lifted the first trophy of the then Guinness Cameroon Race in 1970. The event became yearly until 1992 when it almost went into the doldrums, but for Colonel Kalkaba Malboum, then President of the Cameroon Athletics Federation, who took the bull by the horns to protect the State's prestige and organized a salvation race in 1993.

From thence, many a critique has spoken of poor race animations, lack of former attractions and late arrival of funds for the race. Last year on February 18, Godlove Gapsibuin, won the race in four hours, two minutes in the Men's Senior Category while Ngwaya Yvonne led the Female Senior Category in four hours 59 minutes.

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