By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawian foreign-based long distance athlete Edson Kumwamba is making news around the world and he has broken a record at the 80km Ultra PURfeR 2018 run he did in 6hrs 54mins and 20 seconds.
And very little is known about him here in Malawi and this reporter just stumbled on his existence through the athlete’s relation on social media.
In an online interview, Kumwamba says he was born and grew up in Nchathu Village, Tradition Authority Nkanda in Mulanje District and became interested to become an athlete when he was just nine years old through the annual Porters Race when his mother used to take him to watch the races.
“I started running the race in unofficial capacity because I couldn’t afford money for the entry fees, but every year I was participating unofficially for nine years until I found sponsors for registration fees,” he said.
“I did my studies at DAPP vocational school where I did welding and fabrication. Then I left Malawi and came to work in SA. I still had the passion for running and joined what is called trail races here and joined several other races,” he said.
His coach is Ian Waddle in Capetown specialising in long distances (Ultra distances) in the mountains only.
Some of the races he has been on the podium for include: Ultra Trail Capetown 100km, Jongershoek Mountain Challenge 38km, Puffer 80Km, Mont Blanc 90km (France), Mulanje Porters Race 24km, Marloth Mountain Challenge 55km, Batrun 30km, Table Mountain Challenge 44km, Dryland Traverse 110km and Salomon Bastille Day 35km.
“I broke the record in this recent 80km Ultra PURfeR 2018 and some of personal records are three, Bastille Day 35 km in 2hrs 56min, Puffer 80 km 6hrs 54 mins and Batrun 30 km in 2hrs 40min.
“I have been to France and Switzerland. In France I ran 90km and I was the only runner from Africa amongst 1,400 runners. In Switzerland I ran 45 km and I came third.”
He left Malawi in 2012 and thus he is not registered with Malawi athletic body and since he does not have any connections with athletic body, he intends to engage the services of Stella Gwaza to manage his affairs here.
“Wherever I go I proudly carry my Malawian flag,” Kumwamba said
A message to young aspiring athletes: “The sky is the limit, and if they have a talent and something they are passionate about they must work hard on it. First they should use what they have and start where they are and everything will fall into place.
“Disappointments will be there, that’s life but that’s what makes us push so hard. All the best to the future runners.”
Gwaza, his would-be manager, says she is willing to assist Kumwamba because she has seen the talent in him.
“I have been encouraging him for some time now and he wants me to manage him here in Malawi. His main challenge is sponsorship and has asked me to try and find one but I told him that we need to make him known here.
“The rest will fall in place. It it it is going to be my first time managing a person but I am in for a challenge. I am so moved about his talent which is rare to find here in Malawi.”