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At 21st Race Of Hope: Ndungeh Dethrones Gabsibuin 

By Isidore Abah, Basil K. Mbuye & Andrew Nsoseka

The main sponsor of the Guinness Mount Cameroon Race of Hope, Guinness has once again exhibited its determination in driving Cameroon’s most popular race, which it mid-wifed in 1973 to the next level. The brewery company did not only dole out FCFA millions to the athletes, but it created young millionaires like Adamou Issa Bouba and Claudine Bongben Tumla, winners in the male and female junior categories, respectively. Bouba and Bongben are less than 20 years old, but have already joined the caucus of millionaires as they went home with FCFA 3 million each.

True to its transparency and accountability drive, Guinness this year opened private bank accounts for athletes without accounts to facilitate the payment of their prize money and avoid the rather obscure manner by which athletes’ prizes over the years ‘went missing’.  The battle for supremacy in the male category was fierce between Eric Mbatcha and Godlove Gabsibiun, two of the best mountaineers, who have shared the booty of the Chariot of the Gods among themselves in the last five years.

As all eyes were fixed on Mbatcha and Gabsibiun, Simplice Ndungeh, who was fast becoming one of the unsung heroes of the race, leapfrogged from his second and third positions in previous races, into the first position to bag the FCFA 10 million cash prize.  Gabsibiun and Mbatcha could only trail the fleet-footed Ndungeh on the second and third positions, and took home FCFA 5 million and FCFA 2 million, respectively.

Ngwaya Matches Etonge’s Records

Yvonne Ngwaya is now at par with the legendary Queen of the Mountain, Sarah Liengu Etonge, after also winning the Guinness Mount Cameroon Race of Hope seven times.  Ngwaya once again showed her athletic prowess when she outrun Patience Timbe and Carine Tata to grab FCFA 10 million from Guinness.  From 2009, Ngwaya has been dominating the race in the female category and was only overthrown in 2014 when her sister, Lisette Ngalim, relegated her to the second spot.  Tongues are already wagging that Ngwaya will set a new record in the history of the race; if she continues to take part in future races.

Drones Monitor Race

This year’s Guinness Mount Cameroon Race of Hope saw a new technological innovation covering the event.  Prior to the start of the race, the Buea population watched in amazement as drones brought in by private TV station, Canal 2, hovered over the athletes.  Comments like, “Eh, see that small helicopter”, “how many pipo fit enter inside?”, “no bi na helicopter, na small toy plane”, went viral at the stadium. Even some of the athletes who were seeing the drones for the first time seemed to lose concentration, tripping when the gun that signaled the commencement of the race was shot.

77-Year-Old Banker Challenges Ephasa Moto

Age did not deter a retired banker, Thomas Tanda Titah. Though loaded with 77 years, the banker resurfaced after 30 years of absence in the race.  Hailing from Mbengwi, Momo Division in the Northwest Region, Titah started competing in the Guinness Mount Cameroon Race in 1973 but started missing out when he was transferred to Yaounde.  In 2011, he participated in the Veteran category. This year, Titah finished the race in the 61st position and was elated.

“At my age, it is not about position, but to continue exercising to boost my health. However, I was neither the first nor the last. I have been training three times a week. I usually covered a distance of 50 kilometers every Saturday, while on other days I cover just 25 km,” Titah said. As a mark of recognition, Titah was decorated as the oldest athlete in this year’s race.

Press Badges For Truck Pushers, Butchers

As the gods of Communication would have it, members of the organising committee issued press badges to truck pushers and butchers, while journalists were left at the mercy of overzealous law enforcement officers as they struggled to collect information and take pictures. Reporters had on the eve of the race struggled to get badges and press kits to no avail. The local and national organising committees of the race were perpetually confused. This confusion even soared during the closing ceremony as reporters were not given room to interview officials.  Some reporters had to run after officials.

Where were Visually Impaired, Miss. Mt Cameroon?

Last year, the National Athletics Federation introduced a race for visually impaired persons. The idea was lauded as an innovation aimed at making the Guinness Mount Cameroon Race of Hope more inclusive. But this year, this category was conveniently scraped off without any tangible reasons. Visually impaired persons have interpreted this move as a gross act of discrimination, as many of them had been training for the race. In addition, the age-old Miss Mount Cameroon beauty contest was not organised this year without explanation.

Race Anthem, Artists Thrill Fans

It would be recalled that during the launching of the race, the President of the Athletics Federation, Emmanuel Motomby Mbome, said funds were gotten two weeks before the event. Among the innovations in the 2016 edition was the introduction of the Mountain Race Anthem. On his part, the new Managing Director of Guinness Cameroon, Steve White, stated that the company’s aim is to positively impact the community in which they are operating in. The Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Ismael Bidoung Mkpatt, thanked Guinness Cameroon for sponsoring the race.  The 21st edition of the Guinness Mount Cameroon Race of Hope was a combination of the good, the bad and the ugly. While Guinness made young Cameroons millionaires, the organising committee still failed to correct the perennial problems that have often marred the race.  Meanwhile, the Guinness Mount Cameroon Race of Hope accorded some renowned Cameroonian musicians such as Ben Decca, Sergio Polo, Tata Kingue, Mr. Leo and others an opportunity to thrill their fans.

 

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