Lobels Athletics Club's athlete Misheck Sithole and Fortunate Chidzivo emerged winners at the Old Mutual Westgate half-marathon as they beat a strong field that was made up of some of the country's seasoned middle and long-distance runners in Harare yesterday.
Sithole was the first to cross the finish line in the men's 21km Open race in 1hour 7minutes 39seconds ahead of Moses Tarakino, who came second in 1hour 8minutes 14seconds.
Abel Chibanda was seven seconds behind Tarakino to finish third with a time of 1hour 8minutes 21seconds.
This year's event attracted about 1 400 athletes across the board, from the 21km event, which was the main race, the 10km race and the 5km Fun Run.
Sithole said although he missed his targeted time for the half-marathon, he was content with the outcome.
"The race was fine although it was too cold in the morning but since I had been preparing for this race it was okay and one thing I liked is the race started slowly, then the speed gradually increased until we got to the finish line.
"I was expecting to run a good time of 63 minutes this side but I don't know what happened.
"But I am happy with the position and the time as well since the condition today was tough.
"The course is fine although it was full of potholes, so sometimes if you meet a pothole then you have to reduce speed. In terms of the weather, due to coldness, it affects muscles, so to increase the speed and the likes it takes time. So the weather also contributed to this," said Sithole.
It was also a positive return to the local scene for Tarakino, who represented the country at the African Games in Morocco recently.
"It's just eight days since my last race in Morocco. I am pleased with the competition because it's just like what I saw in Morocco. If we continue like this, I think we are in the right direction and we can improve our times.
"Today it was cold, I couldn't even do my warm-up. So I think it also affected me but it was a good race. I am not pleased with my time though but I will keep fighting hard," said Tarakino.
Fresh from the African Games, Chidzivo claimed the women's title in 1hour 19minutes 5seconds.
This was her first local race since 2017 and she dominated as she took the lead at the 6km peg and managed to hold on to the end.
The Cape Town-based athlete represented the country in 5 000m and 21km during the continental Games and had a few days to recover before yesterday's race.