By Duncan Mlanjira
The second edition of the Run 4 Reforestation half marathon held on September 7 in aid of raising funds towards tree planting and conservation of Zomba Plateau, raised K5,128,450 and identified two athletes to participate at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon in South Africa on an all-expenses-paid trip, courtesy of Old Mutual.
Held along the trails of Zomba Plateau itself, the race attracted a total of 390, both local and international.
The main 21km had 54 (40 Malawian, 14 international), the 10km had 97 (65 Malawian, 32 international) and the 5km had 239 (183 Malawian, 56 international).
Kefasi Kasiteni and Doris Fisher were the this winners of the men’s and women’s categories respectively and were awarded with the grand prize of participating at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, which is set for November 3.
Organised by Zomba Forest Lodge, prizes for the inaugural event last year were cash awards and it was decided this year by the main sponsors, Old Mutual to add the Soweto Marathon on top of cash incentives to be given out.
The event is organised by Zomba Forest Lodge’s owners, Tom Inch and his wife Petal, as a fundraiser in their public awareness campaign against wanton cutting of trees on the beautiful plateau.
Kasiteni finished in a time of 1:20:37 while his runner-up was Mphatso Nandolo in 1:21:50 while Boniface Pangani was third in 1:23:45.
Fisher, this year’s Mulanje Porters Race winner and also last year’ Blantyre City Marathon runner-up, arrived in 1:40:10, her runner-up was Zinenani Stefano in 1:55:20 while Violet Joza was third in 2:01:13.
The 26th edition of the Soweto Marathon attracts an impressive 40,000 runners and also has a half marathon (21.1km) and a 10km category.
The route, that starts and ends at FNB Stadium Avenue, honours Soweto’s rich history and runners pass eight significant heritage sites on the marathon route, such as the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Walter Sisulu Square, the Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, Morris Isaacson High School and the June 16 Memorial Acre, Vilakazi Street and the Hector Pieterson Memorial.
Meanwhile, three other Malawian athletes based in South Africa, Stanley Mwakhiwa, Nalicy Chirwa and Grevaxio Mpani, are also set to participate in the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon.
Mwakhiwa said he is going to participate as a reward from his Durban-based Chiltern Athletic Club for his good performance during the Comrades Marathon in June.
There is quite a good number of Malawians who are slowly stamping their authority in South Africa’s athletics market that include Doris Fisher.
Fisher is from Mulanje District, Mwakhiwa is from Phalombe District and the others are Peter Chiwaya from Thyolo, Rodrick Dida Phiri from Nkhata Bay, Gloria Chitedze from Mchinji and Imran Paya from Mbulumbudzi in Chiradzulu among many others.
In its second edition, the Zomba Plateau Run 4 Reforestation was born from The Reforestation of the Environment and Ecosystem of Zomba (TREEZ) initiative that is run by Zomba Forest Lodge that started a few years ago.
The race is a fundraiser as well as an environment preservation awareness campaign as well as to create a fun event and publicity for Zomba.
Also on the menu during and after the races, Zomba Forestly Lodge organised a free family gathering called Sustainability Fair at Sunbird Ku Chawe where on exhibition was about all things eco-friendly, sustainable food and tree saving culture talks.
Old Mutual also sponsored K1 million towards tree planting activities.