Mount Cameroon Race of Hope 2020
By Moki S. Mokondo in Buea for Fako News Centre
Fans of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope turned out in their numbers to witness the 25th edition of the race on February 22, 2020, with lots of enthusiasm and fanfare. Though the race turned out to spring less surprises as regulars still finished in top positions, the female category had evidence to show former champions like Yvonne Ngwayaand, Lizette Ngalimwere, are gradually losing momentum for the competition. These former regular champions failed to show up amongst the first three while rising stars like Tatah Carine, Kita Mildred and Wirngo Kpufanla emerged first, second and third respectively.
Tatah Carine, whose name is not new in the history of the race finished the race in 5hrs 24mins 14secs, while in the male category, Gabsibuin Godlove did the race in 4hrs 35mins 50secs. Godlove was closely followed by another one-time champion and regular name in the race, Simplice Ndungeh who came about 2mins behind.
Another regular winner and last year’s champion, Eric Mbatcha, had circulated a video on social media announcing his absence in this year’s edition of the race. Eric, who stated in the video that he was seeking refuge in Finland, explained how he left the country last year after receiving threats from Ambazonian Separatists (non state armed group fighting for the breakaway of the English-speaking regions of Cameroon from the Republic of Cameroon) for not supporting them. His absence in the race is believed to have given Godlove the opportunity to win the race for the 5th time.
This edition of the race like previous editions also witnessed the veteran category (male and Female) that ran from the Molyko Omnisport Stadium to Upper Farms and back and the Junior Category (male and female) that ended at Hut I before making their way back to the stadium.
However, many fans who had witnessed the event in the 70s and 80s are still not satisfied seeing regular names and faces winning the race yearly. They blame this shortcoming to the absence of international champions. The explained that the former organiser of the race, GUINNESS Cameroon S.A used to scan for champions around the world and invite them to participate unlike now where the organisers depend solely on local athletes.
There is a large group of people in Buea (men and women) who, mostly in their fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, are not excited that much about the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope. To them, the mountain races of the seventies and especially the eighties were the sweetest. In the eighties, there was tough rivalry between three categories of people: native Bakwerians, non Bakwerians from the rest of Cameroon and foreigners (mostly from Europe). The big names like Simon Ndive Yonde, Monyonge Gobina Franz, Esuka Reginald Wose, Andreas Molea, Walterson Maliva Litute, Elias Ngonja, Lyonga Ekema Robert alias Django, Amos Evambe,Robbie Likenye,Timothy Lekunze, Kongouem Paul, Mike Short and Jack Maitland provided the sweetest rivalry between athletes in the eighties races and made the eighties the sweetest decade of the mountain race. These guys shook Buea in the eighties when the race started from and ended at the Buea Town stadium and not in Molyko. Guinness were the sponsors and organisers.
Notwithstanding, the champions in both male and female senior category went home with FCFA 10,000,0000, FCFA 5,000,000 and FCFA 3,000,000 respectively. They also received other special prizes.
The 2020 edition of the race witnessed the award of special prizes to Mola George Jackai who has never missed an edition of the race since it started in 1973. He turned out to be the most regular participant and he took part in the veteran category.