Petros Kausiyo in BUDAPEST, Hungary

TOP Zimbabwe long distance runner Isaac Mpofu ran a season best time that earned him a 16th place in the men’s marathon at the World Athletics Championships around the Budapest Heroes Square yesterday.

Mpofu, the first of the Zimbabwean athletes to secure qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games in France, completed the marathon in 2 hours 11 minutes 33 seconds.

In a closely contested and exciting race, Uganda’s Victor Kiplagat claimed gold after gallantly protecting his lead to win his country’s second ever world marathon title in 2:08:53.

Israeli Maru Teferi survived a fall after the 30km point to finish second in a season best of 2:09:12, as Ethiopia’s Leul Gebresilase took bronze in 2:09:19.

Mpofu’s teammate Ngonidzashe Ncube finished 37th when also clocking a season best 2:17:02 after shrugging of a recurrence of a toe injury which he said flared up in the last five kilometres.

On what was billed to be the hottest day this year in Budapest, the strong of athletes gave it their best in a riveting race.

So hot were the conditions that were championship organisers reduced the 10km mass run that also began on the same course after the official men’s marathon race at Heroes’ Square to 6km “to protect the health of the participants”.

The morning temperature was pegged 25 degrees and a humidity of 65 percent at the finish, but Mpofu did well to stay with the leading pack for much of the course.

 Kiplangat, the World Mountain Running champion in 2017, was also part of that group and caught up with early breakaway leader just before halfway point after which he took control of the pace and just like all the finishers braved the heat.

Mpofu expressed satisfaction with his performance.

“All in all it went well, the water points were good, only the heat was the major problem, I tried my best to push and I was starting to get cramps and had to take more water,’’ Mpofu said.

“But I am happy and I think we did our best in this race. Compared to the last World Championships, the weather then was good and the results showed.

“Today, the course was very good, weather was the biggest factor but I will rest a bit and focus on the next race.

“I should have another marathon in November or December, I should get the confirmation of the exact place and dates in the next two weeks’’ Mpofu said.

Ncube was happy to have improved on his time but felt the Zimbabweans could have done better had they not been coming from winter back home.

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