THE Navachab Half Marathon is moving towards becoming a World Athletics bronze label road-racing competition in the not-too-distant future.
Offering improved incentives, which attract leading international athletes, the organisers say the event is “back, better and bigger” at Karibib on Saturday.
Incentives have improved, but are still way below the standard that will entice international runners to our shores.
“That’s why the majority of our elite runners go to neighbouring South Africa’s road races. Why? Because there is better prize money,” said Bethold Karumendu, the competition’s chief organiser.
“If you compare road races in Namibia, some of them are dying natural deaths. What is it that we do to give back to our athletes? The people that have to benefit the most at the end of the day are our athletes. I told Navachab, the only thing you need to do is give good prize money.”
The bronze label is the third-tier level on the World Athletics’ prestige classification grid. Race organisers have to apply for recognition, and show that their race can meet a number of WA criteria.
The labels are assessed and awarded each year.
“We can only better this race the more hands there are on it,” Navachab Gold Mine public relations and communications officer Kasale Mclyn said.
The main race senior category is worth N$7 000 for both men and women champions this year.
Interest in the Karibib event from abroad had cooled of late due to the low prize money offered. In comparison, Botswana pays N$25 000 for first place finish in the half marathon, Karumendu said.
“We are moving towards the professional part of road racing in Namibia. After 30 years of independence, we cannot keep to the low rate of giving N$1 000 to a half marathon winner,” Karumendu stressed.
The top junior men and women plus veteran categories get N$5 000 each, while the masters race winners each receive N$3 000.
“We are not leaving anyone behind. We have all the categories included [in prize money], even the masters,” said Karumendu.
Main sponsors Navachab Gold Mine injected N$120 000 into the annual event, with a further N$35 000 coming from Nammed Medical Fund. Hosts Karibib Town Council sponsored N$6 000, while FNB pledged N$15 000 and Coca Cola remain the official drink sponsors.
Auxiliary support comes from Vivo Energy, the ministry of sport and Athletics Namibia.
“The commitment of Navachab and other sponsors is very much valued. The mandate to develop sport is not the government’s only, but it is all of us,” said deputy director for schools’ sport Erwin Ndjavera.
“Namibia has so much talent. So, we can only hold hands with the private sector so that we create these platforms for our athletes.”
Registration starts on Friday at Karibib from 09h00 to 18h00, with late registration from 06h00 to 07h00 on Saturday.