ATHLETES that took part in the recently held Victoria Falls Mini Marathon are up in arms against the organisers for failing to pay their prize monies, days after the race was held in the resort town.
The inaugural Victoria Falls Mini Marathon was held last Saturday with the proceeds from the race donated to the Zimbabwe Foundation for Prostate Cancer Trust.
A number of Victoria Falls-based companies were listed as sponsors for the race.
Athletes that spoke to B-Metro Sport said that they were asked to sign receipts confirming payment of prize monies after the race but never got the cash.
“We were told that we would be handed our cash prizes on signing receipts provided by the race organisers but after waiting for over an hour for the money, their story changed. One of the organisers said the bank was closed thus we could not be paid on that day and that arrangements would be made for us to receive our money on the following day,” said one of the athletes, speaking at the B-Metro offices.
Days later, the race organisers are allegedly playing a game of cat and mouse with the athletes.
Amos Kaputani, the race financial administrator, told the athletes in a WhatsApp chat that some of the female runners would not be paid their dues because few of them turned up for the race.
“But do you understand that by virtue of being only four of you (ladies) that turned up, there was no race. Anyway I’m just the financial administrator and I will take your issue back to the executive,” said Kaputani in part of the conversations seen by this publication.
When threatened with legal action by one of the athletes for reneging on earlier promises to pay the athletes, Kaputani replied: “It’s okay, let me suspend the payment until the court’s determination (sic)”.
Fliers distributed by the organisers prior to the race stated that winners of the race in both the men and women’s category would share US$250.
Athletes coming in second position would split US$125 between them while third placed runners would share US$75.
Fourth and fifth placed runners would share US$30 and US$20 respectively.
What also irks the athletes is that they were asked to pay US$10 or an equivalent of RTGS$70 calculated using black market rates prevailing on the day of the race.
“We paid RTGS$70 each in registration fees but now the organisers are saying that if ever we are going to be paid, the prize monies will be in the local currency calculated using the interbank market rate. Why didn’t they use the interbank market rate for registration fees? They must just pay us in United States dollars as advertised on their fliers,” said an athlete.
One of the organisers, Waxson Makwara, defended the decision to pay only the winner in the women’s category saying that four lady runners did not constitute a race.
“It was agreed that only the winner in the ladies’ category would be paid because few of them turned up and that didn’t constitute a race. I don’t understand how anyone can come to your offices and claim we treated them unfairly when their issue (payment) is being addressed,” said Makwara.
He also defended charging the athletes RTGS$70 in registration fees as that was the rate agreed upon by the organisers on the day of the race.