Ministry scored own goal with Mokhotlong race
The High Altitude Summer Marathon has become one of the biggest sporting events in the land — run in December over the rugged terrain of Mokhotlong.
The event is now at par with top South African marathons in terms of prize monies, with winners in both the male and female categories each taking home a cool M100 000.
In fact, the spoils are so attractive runners from as far as Kenya and Ethiopia have become familiar faces at the race, adding to its ever-growing profile as a marathon worthy of international recognition.
However, things were not the same this year because the organisation, marketing and planning of the race were very poor, to say the least, which I suspect was one of the reasons we did not have any East Africans at the event. Foreigners who attended the event were from South Africa and Zimbabwe, with Pule Hlabahlaba of SA and Lesotho’s Moleboheng Mafata taking the male and female categories of the main race.
But I was very disappointed talking to some athletes on Friday last week when I learnt they did not know if the race would go ahead the following day.
Perhaps the fact that Letšeng Diamonds is no longer sponsoring the event with big monies like the mining company did in the past was part reason why this was the case.
Again, because the 2014 edition of the race was rocked by a doping scandal, the athletes could have been justified to believe the event might have been suspended to allow the organisers time to clean the mess.
But I believe all the Ministry of Sports and the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association had to do was assure stakeholders that they would clean their house and en- sure a scandal-free race, and send out this message well on time to remove any doubts about the marathon taking place and its credibility.
If the ministry which owns the race if I may say, can no longer handle the race, then they should do the right thing and hand it to someone with the capacity to do so.
For me, this was like scoring an own goal because the ministry has the resources to properly market the race and ensure its success.
This is a ministry with fully staffed public relations and marketing departments, yet they failed to do their job properly in terms of promoting one of the biggest sporting events in the country.
This year’s edition of the race lacked the hype and excitement one would have expected from it and I hope Sports Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu will make sure this does not happen again.
I must say, I expected a lot from his ministry since he took over from Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane early this year.
But to this day, I don’t think there is anything worth talking about that has been achieved by this ministry.
THE Mokhotlong High Altitude Summer Marathon has become one of the biggest sporting events in the Mountain Kingdom.