18 February 2013

Cameroon: Mount Cameroon Race of Hope 2013 - Gabsibuin Godlove, Ngwaya Yvonne Retain Titles

Cameroon's Gabsibuin Godlove Bobin from Donga Mantung Division of the North West Region repeated his exploit of 2012 by winning the 18th edition of the international Mount Cameroon Race of Hope in Buea on Saturday, February 16, 2013 in the male category. In the same vein, Ngwaya Yvonne, still from the North West Region, carried the day for the fifth consecutive time in the female category since 2009.

While Gabsibuin did the 38-kilometre distance up and down the mountain in 4 hours, 31 minutes 9 seconds, Ngwaya ran it in 5 hours, 32 minutes 23 seconds. Both male and female winners' bagged cash prizes of FCFA Three million each. Their runners up got FCFA Two million each while those who came third earned FCFA One million each amidst a host of other promotional gifts.

The runne- up in the male category was Tiku Divine Enyung who came 48 seconds after Gabsibuin. Bongkijung Januarius, champion in 2006 and 2007, arrived third in 4 hours, 33 minutes 9 seconds. In the women's category, seven- time winner, 49-year old Sarah Liengu Etonge, came 12 minutes 41 seconds after the winner and a new name, Ngalin Lisette Narila, was the third female to run up and down the mountain. Sarah Liengu Etonge earned an additional Ethiopian Airline all-round ticket to and from France in compensation for her regularity in the competition. Seventy-five-year-old Tanda Titah of Mbengwi origin in the North West Region did the whole race in the old people's category.

Closing the race at the Molyko Stadium, the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Adoum Garoua, put the perennial question of Sarah Etonge's house project to rest by promising government's support of FCFA five million to help her have a home. The National Athletics Federation promised a house for Sarah some four years ago but the pledge, meant to make Sarah comfortable and quit running, never materialized. Instead, she bounced back after two years of recess, complaining that the house promise was a farce.

Flanked by South West Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, and the National Athletics President, Jacques Sebastien Mbous, Minister Adoum Garoua urged companies and business people to invest in sports to secure more victories in the future. As he said, sports today is an industry and any investment in it can be fruitful. Mr. Garoua went on to say that government has recently put in place a legal framework to encourage sponsorship.

The Medical Committee of this year's race examined 650 athletes, but only 422 participated, Dr. Mbenoun Martha explained. Preparations towards the event labouriously lingered on in Buea with little communication between the Local and the National Organising Committees. Disbursement of funds only took place in the evening of Thursday, February 14, 2013 in the Governor's Office, without some committee heads. The amount spent this year on the race remained a secret with various authorities maintaining sealed lips when asked the question.

Saturday's event was effectively the 32nd race up and down Mount Cameroon since 1973 when John Ekema from Fako Division won the first edition. Take-off used to be at the Buea Town Green until 1990 when the distance was increased to 38 kilometres and starting point brought closer to the mountain foot at Molyko. It was later re-baptized in 1996 as Race of Hope.

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