Only personal best time records were set at the 3rd edition of the Blantyre Marathon on Sunday as none broke the 18-year-old record of 2:18:40hrs which was set in 2003 by retired marathoner Henry Moyo.
And there was a surprise in the women’s category when foreign national Caroude Brady came third but she could not claim the bronze and the K250,000 cash prize, which instead went to 4th-placed Dorothy Gawani, who also came 4th in 2019.
In a personal best of 2:22:58hrs, Zomba-based Mphatso Nadolo retained his title he won in 2019 in a time of 2:29:38 and was 4:18 minutes from the record.
His runner-up Kefasi Kasiteni in 2:24:54 — also his personal best from the 2:32:35 in the last edition.
Retaining his third place was Mulanje-based Jafali Jossam in 2:27:44 — his personal best as in 2019 he was also third in his first-ever marathon in a time of 2:34:37.
Women’s winner Nalicy Chirwa retained her title in a time of 3:04:47, her personal best from the 3:05:55 she did in 2019. The women’s national record’s benchmark was that clocked by Theresa Master at 2:48:21, which is her personal best she set at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
Chirwa’s runner-up was Doris Fisher in 3:13:13, who was also the runner-up in 2018 and 2019 with the foreign national, Brady grabbing third in 3:16:50 — unfortunately the rules bar foreign participation from receiving prizes.
The annual race went into hibernation until Malawi National Council of Sports revived it four years ago in which a K500,000 incentive was added for the one who could manage to break Moyo’s 2003 record.
The money has further been carried forward for the next event to entice the athletes to up their performance levels in order to be considered for international events.
Speaking after medal presentation at Kamuzu Stadium, Sports Minister Ulemu Msungama applauded Sports Council for reviving the marathon, which was first managed by Athletics Association of Malawi and agreed with Sports Council Board chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise that there is need to have other races in Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba.
He also hinted that there was need to make one such marathon open for foreign participation to add more glamour to it as well as expose Malawian athletes to international pace.
He also asked Sports Council, in conjunction with his ministry and that of Education to formulate a policy for grassroots to nurture talent in schools after he was impressed with the enthusiastic participation from some schools in Blantyre in relay races which were extra entertainment activities at the Marathon’s finish.
“I congratulate all the athletes for their participation in the Marathon, which is their preparation towards international competitions of this nature.
“It’s not an easy feat to run a marathon and I enjoyed watching them start off at Ginnery Corner and finish here at Kamuzu Stadium,” said Msungama, who also participated in the 6km fun run from Ginnery Corner to the roundabout at the Clock Tower in Blantyre Central Business District and turning back all the way to Kamuzu Stadium — the finishing point of the marathon.
The Minister also appealed to the corporate world and other well wishers to partner with Sports Council to also organise half marathons to expose more youngsters who are barred from doing the full 42.195km
In his remarks, chairperson of the organising committee, Martin Matululu said this year’s event attracted 69 athletes, of which 13 were females as in 2019 there were 47.
Matululu also made special recognition of Rab Processors as their main sponsors and its representative Julio Nairo was honoured to present the men’s silver medalist, Kefasi Kasiteni.
Rab Processors provided 1,300 bottled Vital water as well as 1,000 bottles of ThumbsUp energy juice.
The last edition attracted less than 10 relay teams but this year there were 22 while volunteers, who assisted at water points along the long route as well as at the finish, were 90.
Both categories received equal cash prize — K1 million each, runners-up at K500,000, third place at K250,000, 4th at K150,000 and 5th at K80,000.
There were also cash prizes at K70,000, K60,000, K50,000, 40,000 and K30,000 for 6th-10th positions respectively.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :