Saturday, February 23, 2019 was the D-Day for the Mount Cameroon race of hope. It came at the time when the socio-political climate wasn’t the best, but stakeholders insisted that a race as important as the Mountain race must not be tempered with.
A number of about 536 athletes registered for the race with “I have dream”.
Athletes from France, CAR, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Kenya, Niger and Zimbabwe constituted the foreign pack, with a number of 26 athletes from abroad. About 496 Cameroonians opted to dine with the Chariot of the god’s (compete in the race), in all categories.
The Molyko Stadium was covered with the thick dark clouds in the early hours of the morning, as few fans could be seen; they increased as time went on, and by the end of the race the atmosphere was near heroic.
It was a now or never moment. This was a time to make a mark, by not only going ahead to win the 10, 7 or 3 million, for the 1, 2 and 3 respectively, but it was seen as a moment for athletes to write their names in to folklore.
The black kit was for the veterans, blue for the junior category, and white for the male and female category.
The 24 edition of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope had former winners of the competition littered everywhere, most especially Ngwaya Yvonne putting the long standing ‘Queen of the mountain’ record under threat; she was aiming for her 8 title, that could have seen her go a step further, ahead of mountain goddess-Sarah Etonge.
The race began coming to life at about 9 AM, when the veterans dressed in all blacks began trooping downwards, then came the Junior male category with the top 3 recording exquisite performances;
Abdou G. Sule : N.W, 3rd position
Saidou Moumini : N.W, 2nd position
Metang Cornelius :Ouest, 1st position
For the Junior female category, 3 ladies stood the test and went home victorious;
Lateh Flora Yeossi, 3rd from Litoral
Sister of 7 time winner from NW, Ngwaya Bonka thrilled the crowd to receive a silver medal (2nd) in her category; three sisters took part in the race: Ngwaya Bonka, Ngwaya Yvonne, and Ngwaya patience, making the race epic this family.
Tume Yinyuy, came 1st in this category
An action packed Men’s category left the people of Buea amazed, as 33 year old Mbatcha Eric clinched the title, and did so from start to finish in 4 hours, 40 minutes and 9 seconds.
Mbatcha added to his successes in 2011 and 2014 taking over as the new Champion from 2018 winner,Godlove Gatsibuin who won it in the absence of Mbatcha Eric.
Ali Mohammed was the surprise package, finishing in second position using 4 hours, 44 minutes and 34 seconds.
Last year’s winner, Gabsibuin E. Godlove, kept the competition tight and arrived 3rd in 4 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds.
Other household names in the books of this competition slightly missed out on the podium; Ndonge Simplice, Lambi Elijah, Samuel Esombe Lyonga (son of Serah Etonge), all finished 1st 2nd, and 3rd respectively in the test race of last month, but only constituted part of the 4 to 7 position.
The female category was rather relaxed, as 21 year old Tatah Carine gave all the other athletes a clean pair of heels, arriving in 5 hours, 33 minutes and 41 seconds to keep the first place she took in 2018.
30 year old Ngalim Lizzete came in second with a 5 hours, 37 minutes and 41 seconds finish, while Ngwaya Yvonne settled for 3, after 5 hours, 51 minutes and 50 seconds; she wasn’t able to take that coveted ‘mountain goddess’ award, but she still has more tries in her in front of her given she is just 30.
The efforts of youngest and oldest athletes did not go unnoticed: born on the 26 of April, 2008, Timbom Hebert Enko, won the award of youngest athlete, aged 11.
Old enough to be his grandpa is Owona Essono, aged 69 for the males and Mengwi Justina, 55 years old won that of the female category.
The minister of Sports and physical education,Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi led the price awards ceremony but the man of the day was a certain Jules Komga who decorated himself with the green, red yellow and held a peace plant-“We want peace”, he said while kneeling and looking up to the heavens, he was handed a special cash price of 200 thousand francs for his innovation and efforts.
The town of excellence played host to the Athletes, and with few injury cases that were handled by the medical teams.
We take a rendez-vous for next year’s race of hope.