Winners of Zomba ‘Run 4 Reforestation’ to participate at Old Mutual Soweto Marathon

This year’s winners of the Run 4 Reforestation half marathon along the trails of Zomba Plateau on September 7, will be awarded with the grand prize of participating at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon in South Africa on an all-expenses-paid trip, courtesy of Old Mutual.

Run 4 Reforestation half marathon set for September 7
Run 4 Reforestation half marathon along the trails of Zomba Plateau
The serene Zomba Plateau

Organised by Zomba Forest Lodge, prizes for the inaugural event last year were cash awards and it was decided this year by one of the main sponsors, Old Mutual to add the Soweto Marathon, which is set for November 3, on top of cash incentives to be given out.

The event is organised by Zomba Forest Lodge’s owners, Tom Finch and his wife Petal, as a fundraiser in their public awareness campaign against wanton cutting of trees on the beautiful plateau.

The races, in three categories — 21km from 8:00am, 10km from 8:30am and 5km from 9:00am — attracts a registration fee of K2,000 for locals and K10,000 for international residents and tourists.

Finch said the races attracted 306 entrants last year, split almost 50/50 for locals and internationals.

“We are planning for over 500 participants for this year’s event which is advertised on social media. The new Bradt Guidebook to Malawi has the race listed as an annual event and we also advertise through travel agents.

“All races start and finish from Sunbird Ku Chawe. They let us use their facilities as well as prize presentation.”

Also on the menu during and after the races, Zomba Forestly Lodge has organised a free family gathering called Sustainability Fair from 9am to 2pm at Sunbird Ku Chawe where on exhibition will be about all things eco-friendly, sustainable food and tree saving culture talks.

“Sunbird Ku Chawe are also giving us free use of their Marquee to host the Sustainability Fair that compliments the races as part of the fun and publicity for Zomba,” Finch said.

He added that this all started from the conservation project that Zomba Forestly Lodge has called Zomba TREEZ — the reforestation campaign of Zomba environment and ecosystem that started a few years ago.

“We started Run 4 Reforestation last year as a fundraiser, awareness campaign and to create a fun event and publicity for Zomba.

“Deforestation and wildfires are affecting Zomba Plateau’s environment and ecosystem. At the same time, deforestation is a national problem and it is a desperate situation.

“The fact that people have no alternatives to cooking than to use charcoal or wood is one huge issue. Also, more trees are being cut down now to burn bricks to build houses, which is exacerbating the problem.

“The Run 4 Reforestation is our way of raising not only funds but also as awareness about this grave issue.”

The public is also enticed to join the fun by participating in a raffle draw at the prize of K2,000 per ticket or K6,000 for five people, available at Kaza Kitchen in Lilongwe, Cafe Grazia in Blantyre and Casa Rossi in Zomba.

There are many fabulous prizes for the raffle draws, which include one night stay for two at the following hospitality places: Sunbird Ku Chawe, Africa Wild Track & Camp in Mulanje, Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde, Kachere Kastle in Nkhata Bay, weekend stay for 8 at Funky Cyclids at Cape Maclear and a boat safari for 4 at Liwonde Safari Camp.

There will also be sanctuary tours for 10 people at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, 10 bags of sustainable charcoal from Kawandama Hills and one month free membership at Lilongwe Golf Club.

Others include one night stay and boat trip at Norman Carr Cottage in Monkey Bay, one night stay and horse riding at Kande Beach at Chintheche and one night stay for 10 at Chawani Bungalow at Satemwa.

Various hospitality kitchens will donate meal vouchers while Phalombe Hardware has offered to sponsor a 50-litre solar geyser to be auctioned on the day.

Meanwhile, three other Malawian athletes based in South Africa, Stanley Mwakhiwa, Nalicy Chirwa and Grevaxio Mpani, are also set to participate in the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon.

“I am going to participate through my club as a reward for my good performance during the Comrades Marathon in June,” said Mwakhiwa, who is with Chiltern Athletic Club based in Durban together with four other compatriots.

There is quite a good number of Malawians who are slowly stamping their authority in South Africa’s athletics market that include last year’s Blantyre City Marathon runner-up, Doris Fisher.

Fisher is from Mulanje District while Mwakhiwa is from Phalombe District and the others are Peter Chiwaya from Thyolo, Rodrick Dida Phiri from Nkhata Bay, Gloria Chitedze from Mchinji and Imran Paya from Mbulumbudzi in Chiradzulu among many others.

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