Will Blantyre Marathon record set 16 years ago be broken on Sunday?

All is set for the 2019 Blantyre City Marathon scheduled to start at 6am on Sunday (October 13) as the athletes eye to break the 42.195km course’s 16-year-old record of 2:18:40hrs, set by veteran Henry Moyo in 2003.

The men’s podium
Last year’s women’s podium

An extra K500,000 incentive was dangled last year by the organisers, Malawi National Council of Sports, that it shall be awarded to the winner if he was to break the record.

But the winner, Moyale Barracks soldier Ndacha Nchelenje, finished in a time of 2:27:10, over by 9:30 minutes of the 2:18:40 record.

And on the global stage, this 2:18:40 record is 17:01 minutes away from the official world record of 2:01:39 set by famous Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge which he set at the Berlin Marathon in Germany same period last year.

And it has been broken again on Saturday by the same Kipchoge when he run a special lone marathon in Vienna in less than two hours, clocking in at 1:59:40 but the feat will not count as a world record, according to the world athletics body.

Nchelenje’s personal best of 2:27:10 is over by 26:29 minutes from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) official world record.

According to reports, IAAF is not recognizing this feat by Kipchoge due to the use of 36 rotating pacemakers and a guide car along Vienna’s motor racing circuit.

But the reports say the Kenyan’s achievement is remarkable in high he averaged a pace of four and a half minutes per mile to breach the two hour barrier.

Kipchoge previously fell 25 seconds shy of the mark in Italy in 2017, but with an improved, larger group of pacemakers supporting him, and crowds lining the Vienna circuit giving him an extra boost, he was able to improve his time by nearly half-a-minute to break a barrier that once seemed impenetrable.

Just like last year, athletics enthusiasts at the finish line at Kamuzu Stadium, including guest of honour Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture Francis Phiso, the city’s Mayor Wild Ndipo as well as dignitaries from the corporate world, will be looking out to see if Nchelenje and company will break records, that is both locally and internationally.

Organising committee chairperson, Martin Matululu maintain that all systems are in place set for the second edition of the marathon, whose theme is ‘Changing Lives’, and part of its proceeds shall be channeled to Kachere Rehabilitation Centre at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.

Earlier he had said Kachere Rehabilitation Centre was chosen as a charity beneficiary because at certain times, athletes do get injured and have needed the excellent physiotherapy services that this institution offers.

“This is in line with our theme of Changing Lives and we have also engaged them to participate in the event through a wheelchair race that we have added on top of the main race, the fun run, relay races and aerobics.”

The race had gone into hibernation before Sports Council decided to revive it that saw Nchelenje take the mantle in men’s category while Mulanje-based athlete Theresa Master in women’s.

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, ho was third in 2:28:42.

Master finished at 3:19:49, overshot her personal best of 2:48:21 she set at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil by 31:28 minutes.

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

Last July, Fisher — who has since relocated to South Africa — beat Master during the Mulanje Porters race and this rivalry will definitely manifest itself again during the Blantyre Marathon.

Last year’s cut off time for men has been maintained at 2:45hrs and 3:50hrs for women and in both categories and prizes were given to the first 10 positions as long as they were within the cut off time.

Last year’s edition attracted a total of 72 athletes, of which 59 were men and 13 women.

The route is also the same, starting at 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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