Petros Kausiyo in Budapest, HUNGARY
ZIMBABWE’S only female representative at the on-going World Athletics Championships – Fortunate Chidzivo – has vowed to give it her best shot, despite odds being stacked against her when she plunges into the women’s marathon Saturday morning.
Chidzivo will be the first of the long distance trio from Team Zimbabwe’s small contingent in Hungary, who will take to the road before the pair of Isaac Mpofu and Ngonidzashe Ncube conclude proceedings on Sunday morning.
The 36—year-old was part of the team that flew into the Central European country on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the weekend marathon races.
Chidzivo and her colleagues had their first feel of the conditions in Budapest where day time temperatures are peaking at 35 degrees.
At the end of their six kilometer run under the eagle eye of veteran coach Benson Chauke, Chidzivo acknowledged she has a tough race before her tomorrow but was upbeat about her chances.
She will be looking to evoke the same tempo and determination with which she ran a season best when coming sixth, albeit, at the African Games half marathon in Rabat.
Chidzivo on Thursday likened the conditions she will face tomorrow to what she experienced in Morocco and is praying that he body will not react negatively to the Budapest heat.
“It is going to be tough in that in Zimbabwe we are just coming out of winter and the training camp we held was mostly in cooler conditions.
“The humidity here is very high in the morning and after running just two kilometres we were sweating like we have been drenched with buckets of water,’’ Chidzivo said.
Chidzivo, however, remains hopeful that the few days she will have to adjust to the conditions in Hungary, could in turn work in her favour when it comes to race day.
She noted some of the advice she got from local sports medicine guru Nicholas Munyonga, who has handled a host of athletes when being the team doctor for the Warriors and various team Zimbabwe delegations to such big occasions like the Olympics and the African Games.
“Before we came here we spoke to Doctor Munyonga and he suggested that coming in for about five days before race day could work in our favour.
“He said you either have to travel well on time in order to fully acclimatise or you can come in for just a few days before so that by the time of the competition your body has not shifted much to trying to adjust to the new conditions.’’
Chidzivo and her teammates have also resolved to spend more time holed up in their rooms in between their training sessions in order to remain in shape.
“You don’t know how the body reacts on the day of the completion but the best is to try and stay indoors as much as possible.
“I have run in similar conditions before in Morocco and I was placed sixth in the half marathon.
“Maybe the difference this time around is that I will race without acclimatizing and that that unlike in Rabat this will be a full marathon.
“But I am ready to give it my best shot and we just see how it goes on Saturday.’’
Apart from seeking a string finish, Chidzivo will take to the road with one eye fixed on clocking an Olympic qualifying time.
Of the marathon trio, only Mpofu has already made the cut for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.
Now Chidzivo and Ncube will be hoping for the same and make it a World Championships to remember.
For Ncube, his race on Sunday morning will provide him with a platform to atone for his huge disappointment in the at the 2019 Championship in Doha, Qatar.
He claims that he arrived in Doha, not in the best of shapes having stressed himself by running two marathons inside a month.
Just like Chidzivo, Ncube bemoaned the humidity that has been characterizing the Hungary summer.
“In terms of the conditions, I think they are harsh.
“We really felt how tough it will be when held our first jog in the morning since getting here and indeed it was so hot.
“I think these temperatures will affect everybody’s times like we saw in Doha,’’ Ncube said.
Ncube arrived in Budapest also seeking to better his personal best time of 2hours 11minutes.
If runs under the time and clocks 2.08.40 or better, he would also become the second man in the marathon after Mpofu to punch his ticket to Paris.
He also believes that he is in much better shape for this year’s edition than he was four years ago in Qatar.
“After Doha I went to Angola and ran in a half marathon and my time was much better.
“At least this time around I did not run another marathon shortly before coming here and that has helped a lot.
“I have just been building up by taking part in some half marathon races and hopefully I will do well on Sunday,’’ Ncube said.