By Matabeleland North Correspondent
THE decision by organisers of the annual Econet Victoria Falls Marathon to transform the 2020 edition of the event into a virtual contest has left Victoria Falls residents and firms cursing their luck for loss of moneymaking opportunities.
Over the years, the event was a windfall for the resort town’s residents who made a killing through part time jobs in touring activities, backyard Bn’Bs and vending.
Some environment organisations such as Environment Africa and Greenline Africa Trust would employ hundreds of casuals to clean the whole town.
Some made money by accompanying visiting runners around some activities and leisure places acting as quasi tour guides.
Taxi drivers also used to make a killing transporting runners from one point to the other.
With Victoria Falls suffering from limited room capacity, there were significant spillovers as many of the visiting runners booked in residents’ houses after failing to secure accommodation in mainstream lodges.
Econet would also employ dozens to sell its various products for the week leading to race day and week after.
The new normal ushered in by the outbreak of Covid-19 will definitely be a hard pill for residents who are already counting their losses.
The marathon was initially expected to be held on the first Sunday of July before organisers in May deferred it to December 13 because of the lockdown.
This week, the organisers announced that while the December 13 will remain race day, there will be no centralised physical contest.
A youth activist-cum job consultant Tracey Sibanda bemoaned loss of opportunities.
“People had gotten used to getting high paying part time jobs during the marathon period. I guess it’s the new normal and we have to get used to it, hoping that next year the event will be back,” she said.
Announcing the new event style, organisers said the Victoria Falls Marathon is going virtual.
Runners will run at their own time for their race choice as long as it’s on December 13.
“We are bringing you an exciting virtual event. We will be taking you to Victoria Falls to run the Marathon, Half Marathon and 10.5km relay or 7.5k Fun Run.
“We are working with one of the most sophisticated interactive virtual timing systems in the world which offer real time accurate race results and tracking of your route, whichever distance you choose including the Fun Run,” read the statement.
Live tracking will be used with all distances timed and results provided. Organisers said they are working on prizes with sponsors.
Entries will be opening soon.