By Duncan Mlanjira
One athlete Jafali Jossam, representing Mulanje Athletic Club that is managed by Malawi’s ultra race expert Edson Kumwamba, managed to be on the winners podium by clinching third place in Sunday’s Blantyre City Marathon in a time of 2:34:37hrs.
This made Kumwamba very satisfied as it was his first-ever 42.2km marathon and he was just shy by 5:01 minutes away from the champion, Mphatso Nadolo, who clocked 2:29:38.
Mulanje had six athletes and for the omen category it was represented by Dorothy Gawani, who came 4th in 3:18:58, which was 13:03 minutes from champion, South Africa-based Nalicy Chirwa, who finished in 3:05:55.
And she was behind last year’s champion, Theresa Master, who clocked 3:17:11, to claim third place. The women’s second position was taken by last year’s runner-up, Doris Fisher in 3:16:31.
The other Mulanje athletes were Elias Chapola, who was 6th in 2:40:02, Kumwamba himself on 7th in 2:41:38 Evance Nyazule was 15th in 2:58:36 while Yohane Dalion was 24th in 3:28:34.
Kumwamba, who came 11th last year, said he was pleased with what they have achieved, especially with Jossam as he has never ran a marathon.
“He was a football players when I spotted the potential in him and asked him to join us.
“His first race was the Mulanje Porters Race last July and he managed to get position 5. That performance convinced him to give a try a short at the full marathon and getting into top 3 is such a phenomenon performance to me.
“The next step is to focus on training hard with them and we are getting a coach to train us for 6 months in preparation to breaking the Blantyre Marathon record next year.”
The 42.195km course’s 16-year-old record of 2:18:40hrs, set by veteran Henry Moyo in 2003, remains unbroken.
“It’s a shame that this record has stood for 16 year’s and my athlete have tasted what it takes to run a full marathon and they are aiming to break this record.
“And my club members looking forward to represent Malawi at the Olympic Games I will try to facilitate that they get to run races around neighbouring countries before we set our eyes for overseas.
“The aim is to get these talented runners for international level exposure,” Kumwamba said.
The club was born in May when they acted as Kumwamba’s pacesetters when he was preparing the Mont du Blanc ultra marathon in France.
“On behalf of my club I would like to thank Mrs Mary Woodworth, founder of Friends of Mulanje (FOMO) for financing our entry fees.
“We wouldn’t have managed to have six representing the club without her intervention because it was realy expensive for an athlete from rural area to afford,” he said.