The winners podium
* Pleads with local companies and individuals to partner the event so that it can have enough resources every year
* A crucial platform for exploring domestic tourism to the world—Tourism Minister Vera Kamtukule
By Victor Singano Jnr
Malawi National Council of Sports Board chairperson, Sunduzwayo Madise described the 2023 Mulanje Porters Race as one of the topnotch event in all the areas — which include its organisation and patronage among others.
Speaking on Saturday at the end of the 2023 edition at Likhubula in Mulanje where Evance Nyadzule and Tereza Master emerged winners in the men and women categories respectively, Madise further lamented over lack of massive support from the corporate — and thus pleaded with local companies and individuals to partner the event so that it can have enough resources every year which is currently a major challenge.
“Our athletes go through difficulties for them to take part in the competition as you know that they are required to go up climbing up and down the hill which very challenging.
“But it’s very unfortunate that the prices they get is not that much encouraging. We want to have more partners because this Race plays a bigger part in terms of conservation, sports, tourism and many more.
“It is high time we start awarding our athletes with good prices,” Madise said.
Also in attendance was Minister of Tourism, Vera Kamtukule, who described the annual event as one of the major tools that can play a great role in exploring Malawi’s tourism to the world.
The Minister highlighted that tourism is one of the powerful industry which has plenty of activities that can provide attraction from the people across the world and that through tourism and that the Porters Race has the impact of becoming the country’s biggest economic contributor.
“As Ministry, we are impressed with the great role that organisers of the Porters Race plays each and every year,” she said. “Honestly, this is a very exciting and incredible event because it has a good attraction of tourists both from across the country as well as international, this activity is inline with the Government’s vision of promoting domestic tourism and Mulanje Mountain Porters Race organisers are really on the right track.
“Let me urge other private sectors to come in and emulate this because for the country to achieve the dream we need to work hand in hand,” she said.
Main sponsors of this year’s event was Malawi Gaming and Lotteries Authority, whose Chief Executive Officer, Rachael Majiga said through the event the company managed to achieved its goal of this year’s Porters Race of promoting sports and tourism as they had a good patronage who were also responsible in picking litters and planting of trees at Chambe.
Chairperson of the organizing committee, Kondwani Chamwala said they were excited and impressed with the way how the event was conducted as its main target was to help members of the community to recover psychologically from the devastating Cyclone Freddy which was realized through the organized entertainment of music from local celebrated musicians.
Chamwala further described the Porters Race competition as successful, saying the producing of new women’s category winner is a sign of improvement compared to the previous events where they had same names of people winning.
“The coming in of Minister of Tourism and other respected officials has been a great thing and that describes how important this race and as organisers we are really impressed,” he said.
“We have seen people coming in their large number just to appreciate the event and through this event we provides a platform where communities come and sale their businesses, but also we take it as an advantage to sensitize people who stay around the mountain on the importance of conserving the environment.
“Everything that has been done here has encouraged us and going forward we’ll try to make it bigger and better.”
Women’s category winner, Master finished in 2:44;57hrs with her runner-up Gloria Adam in 2:49;11hrs followed by Zinena Stephano in third place in 2:50;16hrs.
In the men’s category, Nyadzule finished in 2:09;15hrs, seconded by Charles Musowa in 2:11;12hrs and Gravazio Mpane in third (2:15;01hrs).
The top three winners from the two categories received K750,000, K500,000 and K300,000 each respectively.
The 2023 edition attracted 129 men and 46 women and it was spiced up by live music performance from Skeffa Chimoto, Mlaka Maliro, Austine Skelemu and Amalitili Band.
Meanwhile, all is set for the Blantyre 42.195km on July 30 as registration of K20,000 is ongoing, whose deadline is at close of business on July 25 but late entries shall be entertained up to 5pm on Friday, July 28 but will be expected to pay more at K30,000.
The route for this year’s edition was changed and thus as this is a new route, records are going to be set again — rendering the 20-year-old record of 2:18:40hrs, set by veteran Henry Moyo in 2003 as archived.
This time around athletes will run a 14km stretch three times as a lap loop as opposed to the original of one long stretch up to the finish. The original route was starting from Ginnery Corner opposite NBS Bank along Masauko Chipembere Highway heading towards Chichiri Round About.
This time, the start is at the main entrance of Kamuzu Stadium turning right along Makata Road to Chichiri Round About — to proceed along Masauko Chipembere Highway up to the Independence Arch where the athletes will turn right for the Kasungu Crescent up to the entrance to Chichiri Shopping Mall to take the Kwacha road all the way to MBC TV.
After MBC Stadium, before reaching St. Columbus CCAP Church, the athletes will turn right along Njamba Road up to Njamba CDSS to connect to Kenyatta Drive all the way to Kamba junction where they will connect to Mahatma Gandhi Road to head for the junction opposite Malawi Red Cross.
They will then held into Mandala Road up to CFAO to turn right to reach Masauko Chipembere Highway up to the Clock Tower.
They will then take the Masauko Chipembere Highway all the way to Chichiri Round About and start another lap on the same route — giving people more chance to watch the progress of the race throughout.
On the third lap, the athletes will take Makata Road and held for Kamuzu Stadium through the main entrance up to the finish at the VIP Stand.
When announced the new route in May, the organising committee — comprising Malawi National Council of Sports’ Board member Helene Tasosa; Chifundo Tenthani (chairperson) and the Race’s technical leader, Mzee Makawa — previous other activities that were held as people waited for the athletes on their long rout to the finish such as relay races, have been scrapped off since people will be expected to line up the streets to watch them pass by their locations on three occasions.
However, aerobics are also on the menu to start from 6am as well as the Fun Run from 7am and explaining the change of the route, the head of technical, Makawa — himself a former marathoner — said this is according to new international standards to have loop laps marathons, saying the previous route had very high gradients of above 1m per kilometre.
He also said as a new route, the race will only be open to residents in Malawi and not international athletes as the route awaits certification by world athletics governing body.
On the menu, is a new phenomenon when one participant, Eneless Makumba will run as a fund-raiser towards reconstruction of Paralympic star, Mphatso Saukile’s house, along with two of other athletes — whose homes were destroyed due to effects of Cyclone Freddy in March.
Eneless is deputy matron for Zomba Athletics Academy which groomed Saukile and she first ran last month’s Standard Bank Be More Race for the same cause.
Buoyed by her excellent performance in the Standard Bank Be More Race in which she finished 6th, Eneless Makumba is now eyeing for top honours during the Blantyre 42.195km Race.
Her target is to raise K4.5 million and when Standard Bank took note of the noble cause, it supported her initiative with a surprise package of K1 million while Zomba Athletics Academy UK-based partner, Margaret McMullan — who is also appealed for her assistance through justgiving.com has since raised about K250,000.
Mphatso Saukile’s family’s home collapsed and despite the disaster that befell his family, the paralympic — who participated at the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games in December 22 in 400m and 800m Regional 5 Games in Lilongwe where he won two gold medal in 800m and 400m — also represented the country in Italy Jesolo Grand Prix in Venice from May 12-15 where he was second in 1500m and 5th in 400m in Open-aged competition.
Enelles, who is wife to wife to Zomba Athletics Academy’s founder and coach, Benedicto Makumba took exceptional pride of her athlete’s achievement and decided to honour it by raising towards his and the other two athletes’ welfare.
Those wishing to support the Makumba’s efforts are encouraged to deposit to Zomba Branch of the FDH Bank — Account name: Zomba Athletics Development Center; Account number: 1210000450527.
While Eneless considered the Standard Bank Be More Race for the cause, she still competed favourably by finishing 6th in a time 1:41:55hrs — just 24 minutes away from the 2023 edition’s champion, Kenyan Monica Ghihruto, who clocked 1:16:18.
Another Kenyan, Naomi Jepkrir was the runner-up in a time of 1:17:39 with Malawian Nalicy Chirwa claiming the third spot a time of Nalicy Tembo (1:20:30); followed by Mulanje-based Tereza Master on 4th (1:23:45).
The 5th position — that was the cut off point for prizes — was taken by Chloe Powell in a time of 1:24:37.
That, she said, has spurred her to aim for the lucrative positions of the Blantyre 42.195km marathon whose prizes are K1.5 million for the champion of each category of male and female — the same for runners-up at K1 million and K500,000 for the third place as well as consolation prizes from position 4 to 10.
She is training hard for it around Chirunga Stadium at Chancellor College and at same time, Saukile is being helped by fellow Zomba Athletics Academy athletes to clear the rubble in preparation for reconstruction.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira