By Duncan Mlanjira
After a successful first race held in June, Malawi’s international mountain trail (ultra marathon) specialist, Edson Kumwamba has set December 20 for the second leg of the Legend Trail Challenge Series to be run along Mulanje tea plantations.
The second series has been named ‘MwanaMulanje’ (Mulanje child) because the route is at the foot of Mount Mulanje and it doesn’t go up the Mother Mulanje routes that is used for the famous Mulanje Mountain Porters Race.
“The route cuts across the beautiful tea plantations and forests from Grenochy through to Chitakale, Lauderdale and Esperanza and has less incline — almost flat but endulating course — thus MwanaMulanje,” Kumwamba said.
“I have approached several partners and possible sponsors in order to have attractive prize purse as part of encouraging runners to work hard and boost athletic competitions in Mulanje and Malawi as a whole.
“I am looking at prizes up to the top 10 finishers in each race category. I am just waiting for the partners’ response.
“We looking for sponsors who can assist on awards on all distances or stuff like T-shirts, water, energy drinks — any sponsorship in kind will be highly appreciated.”
He said so far a huge number of athletes across Malawi have expressed their eager interest to participate and its registration opens on Wednesday, November 25 at K2,500 for the 40km stretch; K1,500 for 20km and K1,000 for 10km.
Kumwamba decided to create the route because there is only one trail race in Malawi — the annual Mulanje Mountain Porter’s Race — making trail runners in the country to prepare just once in a year.
“This takes away competitive spirit amongst athletes or any proper development of trail athletes in Malawi,” he said.
Last year, Kumwamba formed an athletics club in Mulanje, which participated well in the Blantyre City Marathon held on September 9, 2019.
One athlete Jafali Jossam managed to be on the winners podium by clinching third place in a time of 2:34:37hrs in 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.
Kumwamba club had six athletes with women category being 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 on 15th.