TWENTY-EIGHT athletes have qualified for the semi-finals of the Coca-Cola Four-Minute Mile Challenge to be conducted at White City Stadium on Friday, a day before the final race at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Main Arena.
The race’s defending champion Wellington Varevi is among the semi-finalists.
Only 20 athletes with the best times on the day will make it to the final from the semi-finals to be run in two heats. Mpofu expressed his happiness with the number of athletes who have made it to the semi-finals.
“From the 28 athletes that have qualified for the semi-finals, the top 20 athletes in terms of time will proceed to the final that will be held at ZITF Main Arena on Saturday. We are looking forward to have an exciting final race,” said Bulawayo Athletics Board (BAB) chairman Manuel Mpofu.
Last year, leading from the start proved to be the trick for Varevi
when the Black Rhinos runner won the Coca-Cola Four-Minute Mile Challenge ahead of 19 other athletes.
The 25-year-old Varevi, winner of the same race in 2014 when he was only 20 years old and running for Blanket Mine took the top prize in a time of four minutes 12,64 seconds. He won $800 which was accompanied by a shield.
Varevi led from the beginning of the competition together with Nomore Wiriki but the latter fell off the leading pack towards the end.
With his trademark long stockings which endeared him to the crowd, Varevi said it was part of his strategy to lead from the start so that he could set a manageable pace.
“It was the strategy to lead from the start and set the pace that was comfortable to finish the race. A big thank you to Coca-Cola because they encourage us, we also get some training because we know they support us,’’ Varevi said.
Trust Chidomaya who was winner in 2017, surged ahead in the last lap but his rush forward came late with the 42-year-old unable to overtake Varevi.
Chidomaya finished second in four minutes 14,70 seconds which had him smiling away with $400 in his pocket.
In third place was Isaac Mpofu in four minutes 15,12 seconds which saw him take $400. Nyasha Mutsetse of Rusape, took fourth spot in four minutes 15,38 seconds with his reward being $300.
Fifth was Tendai Zimuto in four minutes 17,26 seconds with his prize being $250.
Samson Wiriki took sixth spot in four minutes 18,48 seconds to pocket $200, followed by Tatenda Hove in four minutes 18,58 seconds with the Black Rhinos athlete picking up $125.
Elijah Mabhunu of the Zimbabwe Republic Police claimed eighth place in a time of four minutes 19,81 seconds to take home $100 while $75 went to his teammate Blessmore Chidziva. Another ZRP runner Tapiwa Manyanga took the last spot with a prize, picking up $50 for being tenth in the race.