"I'm still in disbelief"- Mpofu aims for dream debut at Valencia Marathon on Sunday
After setting a new national marathon record during the World Championships in Eugene in July, Zimbabwean Marathoner Isaac Mpofu shared his goal of participating in the world's biggest marathons. The Nedbank Running Club top runner produced a scintillating run to clock a personal best of 2:07:56 to finish in the tenth position during the Championships while bettering the eight-year-old Zimbabwean national record of 2:09:52 previously held by Cuthbert Nyasango. His prayers were shortly answered when he was announced as one of the assembled elite athletes by organizers of the Valencia Marathon which takes place on Sunday 4 December.
In an effort to improve on the current course record of 2:03:00 set by Evans Chebet in 2020, organizers of the Platinum Label Race confirmed the participation of reigning World Marathon champion Tamirat Tola (2:03:39) alongside the Ethiopian duo of Getaneh Molla (2:03:34) and Dawit Wolde (2:04:27) on a starting list which includes a total of seven men who have dipped under 2:05.
Mpofu who made headlines in May after winning the Durban International marathon only to be later disqualified for wearing only one license says it is a privilege to race against these world-class athletes. "I'm still in disbelief that I will be on the starting line with best marathoners in the world. It is something I dreamt of a long time ago. So to finally see it happening it makes me happy," said the man who has been training hard in his hometown of Bulawayo.
"I'm hoping for a positive performance. This is not about me only. This means a lot to upcoming athletes back home in Zimbabwe. If you see one of yours going up, surely that motivates and makes them believe that good things will come for them. I think this achievement will push them to run well and produce good times in the future. So I'm representing the whole nation," he explained.
The preparations, however for the 34-year-old Mpofu haven't gone according to plan. He was forced to do light training for three weeks after he suffered a calf injury in October. Despite those hurdles, he feels that a top ten finish is within his reach. "The preparations did not go as I wished. I had a bit of a setback due to an injury and that affected my training sessions. I just hope that I didn't lose much fitness, " said Mpofu, who also represented his country at the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Doha.
"I don't want to challenge my personal best but miracles do happen on race day. If I feel I have enough in my tank then I'll push myself to the limit. If I can get a top 10 that would be a huge bonus. It is going to be tough but I will focus on my race plan," he concluded.