THE Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) has promised a bigger and better edition of the 2018 High-Altitude Summer Marathon to be staged in Mokhotlong on December 1.
The LSRC is heading into its second year since taking over full control of the annual race and the event will for the first time this year include the 10km race meant for young athletes.
They have also increased the prizes for the main race in the 42, 2 km that will see winners in the male and female category walking away with M120 000 each from an initial M100 000.
LSRC public relations officer, Refiloe Maphalela, said the introduction of the new 10km race is meant to help the development of young athletes who in the past only had the 5km and 21km races.
“Previously we only had the 5km race for athletes under the age of 18 for the development of young runners but from there, the only race that was available for them is the 21km race,” Maphalela said.
“We felt that it was too drastic a jump from 5km to 21km for young athletes hence we introduced the 10km race to ensure the shift is gradual.”
He said their efforts to increase prizes are aimed at motivating athletes and to make the High-Altitude Summer marathon more lucrative.
“The prizes for the main race have been increased to M120 000 from an initial of M100 000 in both the male and female categories,” he said.
“There is no change in the subvention which we get from the ministry but we felt the need to increase the prizes and hopefully the ministry will also see the need to do more for us. However, we want to see the market value of our athletes increasing and also motivating them to keep working hard.
“This is also an indication that the LSRC has done some research since taking over the race last year. We want to keep athletes motivated and also maintain their interest in the race.
“Of course, the staging of the race came with a lot of challenges but we learnt a lot in our first year and have already started the marketing of this year’s edition of the race scheduled for December.
“We have also attended expos in other countries to learn from them as part of the marketing and efforts to improve it. The whole process of learning was important for us to also improve as a body in terms of how things are done in other countries,” Maphalela said.
Lebenya Nkoka and Mamoroalo Tjoka won in the male and the female categories last year.
Meanwhile, the LSRC announced during a press conference this week that they will host a pre-event of the newly introduced 10km race on the 27th of October in Mokhotlong.
The commission also revealed that they have partnered with the National Federation of Culture that is set to host an event on the eve of the High-Altitude Marathon.
Operations manager Liteboho Malataliana confirmed that over 300 athletes from South Africa have already registered for the race and there is also interest from Kenyan athletes and the LSRC is helping to facilitate their VISAs to Lesotho.