Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
A new trend of virtual marathons has emerged and become popular among road runners in the country due to the lockdown that forbids large gatherings and spirting activities.

All major races in the country were either cancelled or postponed after the lockdown was enforced in March to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Although restrictions have been eased and individuals can jog freely, competitions remain suspended.

However, some marathon sponsors such as Old Mutual have gone online to host virtual marathons.

In a virtual marathon, athletes register and pay the requisite amount for their preferred distance then run on the set date at their own time along their own chosen route.

The athletes record the finishing time and upload it on the race website and get certificates of participation which they can print out.

A virtual marathon can be held in any location one chooses and organisers of most events on the continent have gone virtual and therefore attracting larger audiences from all over the world.

This is good news for athletes that have been craving for competition as they no longer miss races because they’re no longer restricted by geographical location.

In the past few weeks, a number of virtual marathons have taken place in Zimbabwe.

The Old Mutual Women’s Network Zimbabwe Chapter held a virtual marathon at the weekend whose proceeds were donated to some local families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bulawayo Athletics Board (Bab) chairman Manuel Mpofu says virtual marathons go a long way in motivating athletes during the enforced prolonged break.

“In this situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is a great initiative. There is not much we can do during this period we are in, but come up with creative ways to keep athletes busy and focused on sport.

“The idea is to try and keep athletes active and to observe requirements to prevent spreading Covid-19. Since athletes record their own finishing times, they should be honest about both the time and distance to keep the events professional,” said Mpofu.