By Tata Mbunwe
The 50th edition of Mount Cameroon Race of Hope was witnessed by thousands of people in Buea, Southwest Regional capital, which was rocked by three explosions just after the race kicked off at 7am.
Although 20 people sustained burns and other injuries from the explosions including a young boy, people were not deterred from flocking the Molyko Omnisport Stadium, where the race started and ended.
Spectators told Mimi Mefo Info that “this year’s race was the most attended among the last six editions organised during the armed conflict in the English-speaking Regions.”
Previous editions of the race have witnessed poor turnout due to threats from Ambazonia separatist fighters.
This year, the separatists called for a two-day lockdown in Buea on February 24 and 25, which was largely effective, but had little effect on the turnout for the race.
The town was, however, heavily militarised, with at least two military helicopters patrolling the city of Buea and its environs throughout Saturday.
Security intensified after three explosions went off just after athletes had taken off, with 20 people injured, including two athletes.
“During the course of the event, we witnessed three explosions. Explosions were hidden in the garbage, but I must underline that those explosions did not disturb the race,” said Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, adding that the population came out massively.
The massive turnout of people could have been motivated by social events that were organised prior to the race.
Among them was a pre-race concert organised by Orange Cameroun, the race’s official sponsor, which kept thousands of people spellbound until midnight on Friday.
Mimi Mefo Info