Leonard Chuene, president of the Confederation of African Athletics (ASA) southern region, says the half-marathon championships staged yearly on the southern part of the continent, is crucialiin preparing their athletes for international events.
Chuene said he had no doubts the race would improve the standard of athletics in the region.
This year's event will be held in Maseru, Lesotho, tomorrow and a number of top athletes from across southern Africa are expected to compete.
"This race is crucial in our quest to transform the region to be among the powerhouses in athletics in the future. It is very important for athletes to take part in it," Chuene said yesterday.
Like last year, ASA will only be represented by women's athletes in this year's race.
Molatelo Malehopo, ASA's development manager, said they wanted more of their women's runners to benefit from the race.
Leading the ASA team in will be versatile runner Zintle Xiniwe.
She has been consistent in the last two years, running her best times in distances ranging from 5000m on the track to the half-marathon.
Her time of 15min:58sec in the 5 000m at the Yellow Pages meeting in Port Elizabeth this year proved that she has been working hard on her speed.
Xiniwe also won the testing Safari Half-Marathon in Wellington in May.
Other South Africans in the race are Gloria Baeba, Annerien van Schalkwyk, Marelise Retief, Simangele Mabuza, Dondashe Zoleka, Catherine Nkosi, Nandipha Dywili and Carey Ann-Cave.
l Phalaborwa Road Runners Club will host their yearly Lion Marathon, Baby Elephant half-marathon and the Impala 10km races in Phalaborwa, near Namakgale, tomorrow.
The races start simultaneously at 6am at the Kingfisher Private Hospital and finish at the same venue.
Club secretary Alan Cole said they were expecting more women runners in the main event.
Last year it was an all-male event.