By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone - Botswana’s athletics authorities are preparing new measures to regulate the mushrooming of marathons, some of which fail to meet expected standards.
An athlete recently died during a 21km race in Gaborone, with concerns that there were insufficient medical personnel at the event.
Last week, there were chaotic scenes during the Gaborone Mayor’s Marathon, as runners got lost along the route, resulting in some, including international athletes, failing to finish the race.
Desperate for cash, athletes are enticed by the increasing number of marathons, but there are concerns over their welfare.
Recent incidents in the country have prompted an immediate remedial response, with the athletics body, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), mooting the formation of a marathon regulatory board.
The BAA wants the board to be responsible for regulating and monitoring races.
The regulatory board will have the powers to act against the organisers or cancel the race if there are any transgressions.
“The formation of such a body is key as it can attend to the concerns raised lately,” BAA spokesperson, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba told the media.
BAA affiliates concur that a regulatory body is long overdue in the face of recent incidents.
Gaborone Runners Club chairperson, Tsholofelo Mvungama said a lot left to be desired during some marathons.
“Athletes go through safety risks and the regulator will address these concerns. The BAA would be the appropriate body to establish the board, but they have not been proactive. Issues like the provision of proper medical personnel and marshals will be taken care of if there is a regulator,” he said.
There have been growing concerns that the high number of marathons, mostly organised for financial gain, will negatively impact on the athletics’ bodies.
“One of the board’s role will be to look at participants’ safety. There are concerns over instances where athletes are not compensated,” a lecturer in the department of physical education, Dr Tshepang Tshube said.
Athletes, desperate for cash, participate in almost every marathon despite the physical exhaustion they go through.
Two top Zimbabwean athletes, Thabitha Tsasa and Samukeliso Moyo were not paid for their participation at the 2017 Gaborone Mayor’s Marathon.
Other athletes also complained of delays in payment, resulting in the BAA demanding that organisers deposit the cash with the mother body well before this year’s race.