Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter

THIS year’s edition of the Rail-Trail Annual Charity Half Marathon, which was scheduled for 4 November, has been called off because of the coronavirus.

In a statement sent out on Thursday, NRZ public relations manager, Nyasha Maravanyika said the event has been cancelled because of the ban on sporting activities as part of measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

“The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) would like to advise marathon runners, enthusiasts and other stakeholders that the 2020 edition of the Rail-Trail Annual Charity Half Marathon has been cancelled. The marathon was due to be held on November 4. The decision to cancel the event follows the suspension of all sporting activities in the country by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,’’ said Maravanyika.

Following discussions with concerned stakeholders, NRZ said even in the event that sporting activity was allowed, there was not enough time to prepare for a successful event.

“After consultations with relevant sporting bodies, the NRZ realises that even if sporting activities are to be allowed to resume by the SRC, there is not enough time between now and the marathon day to plan for a successful event this year,’’ said Maravanyika.

Another reason for calling off this year’s race was the fact that some of those who have supported the event might not be able to do so this year because of the effects of Covid-19.

“The NRZ is also cognisant of the fact that partners who have supported the marathon since its inauguration might not be able to fully participate in the run as they have also faced the debilitating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. NRZ would like to assure sports enthusiasts and its partners that the NRZ Rail-Trail Charity Half Marathon will be back next year.”

Launched in 2018 to commemorate the arrival of the first train in Zimbabwe on 4 November 1897, the NRZ Rail-Trail Charity Half Marathon’s first two editions attracted top class runners from all over the country.

The marathon has four categories- the flagship 21km race, 10km, five kilometres and a five kilometre walk which are open to all men, women and children including wheelchair athletes.

The marathon is undertaken under the NRZ Corporate Social Responsibility Investment (CSRI) programmes which assist the needy in society as well as communities.