Nchelenje, Master are Blantyre Marathon champions: No record broken for both men and women

Morale Barracks soldier Happy Kings Nchelenje and Mulanje-based athlete Theresa Master are champions of the men’s and women’s categories of the revived Blantyre Marathon after Sunday’s race that took place along the streets of Blantyre and finished at Kamuzu Stadium.

Nchelenje crosses the line in 2:27:10

Women’s champion Master, 2nd placed Fisher and Chirwa

Men’s champions Nchelenje. 2ndplaced Hoseya and Nandolo

No record was broken as Nchelenje finished in a time of 2:27:10, over by  9:30 minutes of 2:18:40 set by Henry Moyo in 2003 at while the women’s champion Master, at 3:19:49, overshot the record she set at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil by 31:28 minutes from the record of 2:48:21 she set as her personal best at the world event.

On second place in men’s category was another Moyale soldier-athlete Hosea Chaola in a time 2:27:28, just 18 seconds away while Zomba-based Mphatso Nandolo, in his maiden marathon was third in 2:28:42.

Runner-up in the women’s category was Doris Fisher from Mulanje in 3:20:37 while Nancy Chirwa represented the North well by coming third in 3:22:35.

Nchelenje and Chaola, who said they train together all the time, ran practically side by side all throughout like pacesetters for each other and the same was from the Mulanje-based Master and Fisher.

Initially, only the men’s champion was supposed to receive the K1 million prize money and the women’s to get K800,000 but after consultation over the disparity, organisers Malawi National Council of Sports Executive Director George Jana announced that both will receive categories equal.

Second place prize money was K500,000 and third-placed was K250,000. The cut off time for men was set at 2:45hrs and 3hrs for women and in both categories, were given to the first 10 positions as long as they were within the cut off time.

Since no record was broken, the pledge to give each of such champions K500,000 has gone back into reserve for the event which Sports Council intends to make it annual and bigger going forward to become an international event.

Jana said they are planning to introduce other marathons in the other key cities of Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba and make the Blantyre event the main national race with an international flair.

The last Blantyre Marathon champion was Mike Tebulo while veteran Henry Moyo won it twice and set that record of 2:18:40.

The marathon also had relay races at the stadium to entertain patrons that included guest of honour; Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Grace Chiumia, who presented the gold medals to the two marathon champions.

During speeches before medal presentations, main organising committee chairperson Martin Matululu said the marathon attracted a total of 72 athletes of which 59 were men and 13 women.

“I must safely say, Honorable Minister that this event has been a success and it’s a lifetime experience for me and the entire organising committee,” he said. “Our wish is that the government, through Sports Council, should make sure this continues as an annual event.”

Chiumia said she was impressed with the enthusiasm that the participants had both for the main marathon and the relay races that mostly were school-going youths.

“I am proud to be back to the Sports Ministry and I promise to work hard from where my predecessor left from but after seeing the talent and the enthusiasm displayed by the youths at this event, I intend to revitalize serious sports activities in schools, starting from primary up to secondary level.

“We have to start immediately and we will connect with the ministry of education to see how best this can be worked out. Be proud of your participation in this event and aim higher that one day you can be part of an international event where you can set your mark,” she said.

The organization of the whole event was excellent and the route used had people lining up the streets to watch them pass by.

The route was from Ginnery Corner Roundabout in Blantyre near NBS Bank to Chichiri Roundabout where it branches off towards Kwacha Roundabout all the way to TVM, past St. Columbus CCAP Church and all the way to Kudya trading centre.

At Kudya, the route heads towards Zingwangwa and all the way to Stella Maris Secondary School where it turns towards Moneymen Club then past Catholic Institute (CI) and reaching Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre Central Business District.

Then it turns to what is popularly known as Kandodo Corner Shop where it branches off to Mbayani heading all the way to Kameza Roundabout before turning towards Machinjiri turn off where there is the Ernegem Filling Station.

The route then heads into Machinjiri, past Luanda Trading Centre; Area 5; Mkolokoti, Makhetha before joining the road from Zomba and going down past Lever Brothers; past Maselema Roundabout and reaching Chichiri Roundabout where it branches off Makata road and enter into Kamuzu Stadium for the finish line in front of the VIP Stand.

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