Less than two weeks to the start of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope, controversy is reportedly very high following a decision described by many as single-handed, taken by the National President of the Cameroon Athletic Federation, Jacques Sebastian Mbous.
The decision which has provoked much bitterness reduces the distance to be covered from 42 km to 33 km and introduces other modalities which critics have styled impracticable.
Gathering from a talk show panelists and callers expressed their total dissatisfaction with the decision to change the distance of the race.
With these few concerns echoed, the population of Buea feels, like in the past, that Yaounde has hijacked the race again.
Reactions are already high as the local athletic federation members are equally bitter and calling the decision a slap on the face.
According to the Regional President, Motombi, the decision was taken without dialogue with the stakeholders. The stakeholders, chiefs especially, have always been neglected and sidelined in issues of such delicate nature like the Mountain Race which involve them both physically and metaphysically, he lamented.
Answering a question as to what might happen should the Yaounde decision to shorten the race not be revoked, the regional president sounded helpless but pleaded on all to be calm for both the local and the national organising committee is focused to give the race its initial spirit as a race of endurance.
Calling on the Mayor of Buea to take a stand and champion a move to disrupt the race, callers in the likes of Hon Paul Ayah Abine and Marcel Amabo, said it was an unimaginable thing for the South West Region to be slighted at all times.
Styling the Mayor as the landlord of the town and the mountain, the population said the chiefs should rally behind their Mayor and take a categorical stand against the race.
As a reaction, Mbella Moki said, "it is dangerous for the National Organising committee to constantly impose on the local organizers" He accused them of unjustified mismanagement and bad conduct".
He pushed the call to disrupt the race to the chiefs who, he insists, have the following of the population.
He explained in great details the importance of the race and its impact on the population.
Visibly not satisfied with the Mayor's dribbling position not to be identified with the call to disrupt the race, veteran Journalist, Robert Abunaw took the bull by the horns and opted to champion the crusade against the race taking place.
He prayed to be quoted as he announced in unequivocal terms that the race was an abuse and a mockery to the people of the South West Region.
"The concerns of the people of the South West have always not been considered", he said
Other changes in the race include the fact that athletes will henceforth stop at hut two; 2500 meters above sea level, midway to the summit of Mount Cameroon. The relay course and the junior category of the race have been suppressed. Only athletes whose ages range between 18 and 45 years will be allowed to take part.
However, according to the President of the Cameroon Athletics Federation, Jacques Sebastian Mbous, the modification was a necessary move in order that the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope can be homologated by the International Association for Athletics Federations, IAAF.
Meanwhile, former champions and aspiring winners of the race in all categories have been reacting to the changes.
They affirm that athletes needed to be consulted, claiming they have significant views on the rules that govern the nation's most popular mountaineering event.
It is the third time a major modification is being made on the race course since its inception in 1973.