Kumwamba invited to race in Sri Lanka’s Ultra X 250km race

After taking a well deserved rest following the tedious three stages 270km Al Marmoom Ultra desert marathon in Dubai last December, Malawi’s international mountain trail race specialist, Edson Kumwamba has been invited to race at the Sri Lanka Ultra X 250km race next month.

Racing in the desert in Dubai

According to srilankaultra-x.co, this is a series of stages of racing the 250km over 5 days that come in April. For 2019 it starts with Sri Lanka then Jordan in October and Mexico in November.

Kumwamba says he was identified by the race organisers from two previous international races including breaking the record of Puffer Race last year in South Africa.

“They came to know me through a colleague from Dubai whom I met here during the Orbis Challenge which we organised on Mulanje Mountain trail. It’s also a trail mountain race that crosses rivers and more climbing up to 6200m.

“There are many athlete coming from around the world because many people like mountains than desert. When it comes to mountains, I don’t have the stress as my mountain training trail on Mulanje has more technical section that helps for endurance.

“I am very strong now and prepared having rested well after the tedious Dubai desert race. So I am really ready,” Kumwamba said.

The Sri Lanka Ultra X will start on Monday, April 15 for 37km for first day, 55km for the second, 51km for the third, 67km for 4th day and 40km for the final stage.

Ultra X Sri Lanka takes place in a country nicknamed ‘The pearl of the Indian Ocean’, a beautiful country with an incredibly diverse culture.

The course will take competitors through tea plantations and 10,000 year old rainforests, down rushing rivers and waterfalls and onto white sandy beaches.

The Dubai Al Marmoom Ultra-marathon which Kumwamba raced in December is dubbed the world’s longest desert ultra-run in which he had bitter-sweet experience as he had to pull out of the race in the last phase due to swollen feet.

In the first stretch of 50km he came 6th, the second day’s 70km was on position 3 and the third for 100km he was second but for the last phase of 50km, his feet got swollen and after diagnosis it was discovered he had developed what is known as Illiotibia Tract — an injury to the multipurpose tendon that runs down the length of the outer thigh from the top of the pelvis (ilium) to the shin bone (tibia).

He was forced to pull out but he says if he had completed the final stage he would have made it into the top three.

“Otherwise I am glad that I have experienced and learnt some lessons it being my first desert race. I have been invited again for next year’s event but it will be 300km.”

Kumwamba’s other possible races this year are in America (80km or 160km), Greece (160km) and France (90km) — all mountain races.

He was the only sub-Saharan African at the event in which two were from Morocco and during a welcome reception, he was asked by the country’s Sports Council secretary general, Saeed Mohammad Hareb, to speak to the participants about his experiences in Malawi.

The runner  said the participants were so glad that Malawi has the challenging Mulanje Porters Race but the serious athletes wished it was more than the 24km so that they could come and participate.

Kumwamba had said Mohammad Hareb is also son the United Arab Emirates’ King and approached him during the reception, saying he had recognized him from pictures that were posted on Dubai Sports Council instagram.

Born in Nchathu Village, Traditional Authority Nkanda in Mulanje District , Kumwamba became interested to become an athlete when he was just nine years old when his mother used to take him to watch the Mulanje Porters Race.

After doing his studies at DAPP vocational school in welding and fabrication, he left Malawi in 2002 for greener pastures in South Africa and since he still had the passion for running, he joined the trail racing club there where he rose to prominence.

Some of the races he has been on the podium for include: Ultra Trail Capetown 100km, Jongershoek Mountain Challenge 38km, Puffer 80Km, Mont Blanc 90km (France), Mulanje Porters Race 24km, Marloth Mountain Challenge 55km, Batrun 30km, Table Mountain Challenge 44km, Dryland Traverse 110km and Salomon Bastille Day 35km.

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