By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawian long distance athlete, Gloria Chitedze has joined hands with South African Ntabaleng Tsusane to run 45kms each on Sunday, June 14 as a charity challenge to raise funds to procure foodstuffs for children, whose parents have been affected by the COVID-9 lockdown due to job losses.
Chitedze, originally from T/A Mkanda in Mchinji District, is based in South Africa and for the past six years she has been running under the banner of Atlantic Athletic Club (AAC) in Cape Town with which she has participated in over 10 full marathons and many half marathons.
This year she intended to take a mile further by participating in the taxing 90kms Comrades Marathon having felt she now has matured enough as a runner to give it a shot — only for COVID-19 to creep in and force the annual event to be cancelled.
She says the cancellation of the popular ultra marathon did not mean the run-addicts like her should give up and she has taken advantage of the organisers, Comrades Association who have introduced Virtual Race of Legends to the Comrades Marathon 2020 pre-entries of running social distancing races.
“My friend Ntabaleng and I took this opportunity to go for a good cause and run 90km between the two of us to feed the children, whose parents have been affected by the COVID-9 lockdown due to job losses,” Chitedze said.
“Most parents and guardians have no income at the moment and are struggling to just feed these innocent souls. No child should ever go to bed hungry. This breaks our hearts.
“We have identified food hampers and essentials, which we will buy using the funds we shall collect from well wishers,” she said.
There is quite a good number of Malawians who are stamping their authority in South Africa’s athletics market and most of them won medals in last year’s Comrades Marathon, including 2018 Blantyre City Marathon runner-up, Doris Fisha.
Fisha, from Mulanje District and a five-time winner of the Mulanje Mountain Porters Race, ran her first Comrades Marathon in a time of 7:20hrs and earned herself what is known as Roche Kelly silver medal.
She relocated to South Africa where she joined Orcus Academy in Durban’s Kwazulu Natal.
Peter Chiwaya is another Malawian from Thyolo District, T/A Changata and is based in East London’s Eastern Cape and running for Oxford Striders Running Club East.
Stanley Jeremiah Mwakhiwa, who won a silver medal in the Comrades last year, is from Nkuthuwa Village, T/A Nazombe in Phalombe District running for Chiltern Athletics Club based in Durban — together with four other compatriots.
Rodrick Dida Phiri, from Nkhata Bay District’s T/A Fuka Mapiri, has done four Comrades and also runs for Chiltern AC while Imran Paya — who is from Mbulumbudzi in Chiradzulu District — runs with Gugulethu Athletic Club.
Paya is a specialist of 56km Old Mutual Two Oceans since 2010 from which he has won nine medals in total — six of which are silver.
He is also a veteran of the 90km Comrades, in which he has raced for seven years since 2011 to earn six medals, five of which are silver.
Together with Chiwaya, Paya and Mwakhiwa, Chitedze, donated a consignment of training vests and shoes last year to Mulanje Athletic Club, which is being managed by international mountain ultra trail specialist, Edson Kumwamba.
The gear was donated by members of their respective athletic clubs in Capetown East London and Durban.