This Saturday was about taking it easy after a hectic week at the office. So what better way to unwind that waking up at 4 in the morning and heading out for a run. Cathy, my lovely wife, was by my side as a companion and cheerleader number one. She knows how to nurse back my bruised ego to perfect health.
Sampling The Goods
I’ve been following the preparations to the Standard Bank Be More Race slated for 9 June in Lilongwe. The routes for the three categories are out. So I thought of sampling the main route and experience it for ourselves.
Since the main dish has not been served yet, I’ll reserve the detailed narration for later. Suffice to say whosoever settled for the route has a taste for finer things in life.
Walking parts of it, and running the rest of it, the experience was awesome.
The Recording Glitch
I had wanted to record every inch of the way. I set up the running app and got going. After playing the first power song, everything went quiet. Nearly two kilometers later, the system went back online.
Fortunately, Cathy’s app worked smoothly. So we have a perfect record of the distance covered, thanks to her alertness.
I intend to sample out the remaining routes in the days to come. But for the main route all I can say is it is JUICY, ENGAGING and totally SUCCULENT!
You cannot afford to miss the day. So keep the date: 9 June 2018.
Not long ago adventure meant stepping into the unknown, riddled with untold dangers. The possibility of not coming back alive heightened the feeling of the ultimate sacrifice but nowadays we take it differently. Yes, we cannot remove all dangers from an adventure but we take precautionary measures and prepare – a lot. One such preparation is taking mental pictures.
Take Be More Race for instance. Update after update has been shared with Standard Bank customers and members of the public to allow everyone adequate time to prepare. There’s no need to show up with muscles that are stiff and a chest that can hardly heave up and down. Hit the gym now. Hit the road every week in the morning or early evening.
And here is one more weapon in your sports arsenal. Standard Bank has shared the routes ahead of the race. Take time to go through them and relate routes to the road networks in Lilongwe. If you happen to be in the Capital City then take the time to drive through the route for your run category. Then get to walk through sections of it. And if possible get to jog portions of it.
This will allow you to build a mental picture for your route. It will help you on 9 June to deal with twists and turns of the race.
So far my coverage about this year’s Standard Bank Be More Race has focused on the casual runner on a quest to achieve physical fitness and wellness. But Be More has more to offer.
As the race is open to professional athletes, financial rewards await for those in the 21 kilometre heat. Like the promise of a treasure at the far end of the rainbow, Standard Bank too has dangled a total of K2.9 million at the finish line for the first three to cross the line.
Winners will receive cash prizes in ranges of K550,000, K900,000 and K1.5 million on third, second and first positions, respectively. Now that’s something to smile about! It is commendable that Standard Bank has considered rewards for athletes. Apart from cash prizes, all participants will receive a bag stuffed with branded Standard Bank goodies. That is the way to go.
Many professional athletes out there have been crying out for motivation and the more sponsors like Standard Bank come forward with prizes, the better for the sport. The bar has been raised. These cash prizes should motivate more athletes to get back on the track, and new ones to join. Ultimately, standards of the sport will improve. The overall picture of success looks bright. We can now look forward to the moment when more than just the regular local athletes participate at global competitions. Surely the gold medals are coming on home soil.
It’s all a matter of perspective. 10 km passed in a modern plane at cruise speed will be fleetingly small. In a car, on the open roads 10 km is nothing. In busy cities like Lilongwe, it will be noticeable. But on your feet, pounding the hard asphalt to the rhythm of your heart, 10 km becomes 10, 000 metres!
As covered in previous articles, the city run was designed to bring Standard Bank customers, staff and the community together. It was a day where runners were encouraged to come along with their family and friends.
THE TURN OUT
The turn out was great. I made out a few familiar faces including Walter Nyamilandu, the current president of Football Association of Malawi (FAM). I couldn’t resist getting a photo opportunity with him. And his deep baritone voice helped set the mood for the race. I met Kelvin Mphonda, an old friend from college days. He’s an Assistant Director of Roads, Ministry of Transport and Public Works. There were peoples of all races, ages and gender. The youngest was 8 years old and the oldest perhaps was in his 70s.
THE START LINE
After signing the indemnity forms and getting the race number, we all gathered at the start line. This was a proper affair with the modern square arch marking the spot. There was an ambulance and lots of Police and race officials. Then a trainer appeared in front of the crowd and took us through a warm-up session. It was more like a dance-aerobic session. I felt the warmth of blood surging in all the four corners of my body. I was ready.
When it was 2 minutes to the starting time, Malawi National Anthem played on the loud, high-fidelity speakers. Some runners cheered, and others stood at attention of sorts. Exactly at 6:00 a whistle was blown and we all took off.
HERO OF THE DAY
I decided to take a comfortable pace and watched a sea of faces run past me. Steady and Easy was my strategy. What’s more, there was a high chance of catching up with some of these runners later on in the race. As I was busy fiddling with my phone, an athletic pulled up next to me. He looked like a smaller version of Bolt. We struck up conversation and got to learn that he was Ian Msampha. He was a survivor of a nasty car accident that left him with a broken leg – in three places, and a broken left hand. The accident occurred off Lilongwe City limits in September 2015. After surgery, where they inserted a metal bar to support his femur, the doctors said he would never walk again unassisted. The family then decided to involve a physiotherapist from Blantyre who had strict routines, some starting off as early as 4:00 am.
Bit by bit, he started going to the gym. He started bench pressing a 50 kg bar, and went as high as 140 kg. And here he was actively participating in the race. To me he was the hero of the race.
The route that was selected was very scenic. Starting off from the heart of New City Centre, the part of Lilongwe without dust, it went past the majestic Reserve Bank building, the only structure that is thin at the bottom, and wides out like an inverted stepped triangle. At the far end of that road, the route brushed shoulders with the boundary of Lilongwe Sanctuary, where wild animals are rehabilitated and released into the jungle, if they are still capable of fending for themselves. Then the route turned north and went past the American Embassy, the new South African High Commission complex and the DFID offices (Department For International Development). On the opposite side, there was a forest composed of indigenous trees. It was green everywhere.
At the Malawi Parliament roundabout it turned west. The Parliament buildings were in sight, and this architectural marvel does not disappoint. The route had been steady until this stage. It sloped down a little bit, and then started going up. Further down the road, it turned north again at Area 18 roundabout. This is where the first challenge emerged. The slope was considerably significant. In the mornings when going to work, it is not uncommon to see loaded trucks that have broken down on this section. People and machines alike find this section difficult to navigate. The road from the Parliament roundabout and this road bordering the popular Area 18 form two sides of a rectangle housing the Botanic Gardens. This is a favorite spot if one is looking to pray, study or reconnect with nature.
Lilongwe City Run.
Lilongwe City Run.
Lilongwe City Run.
Further up the road, the route turned right into the low density Area 10. The road sloped down and offered some respite to the now tired runners. An undulating pattern led the road to a junction between Area 12 and Area 11, and the road turned right. This section, thankfully eased on the ankle, offering a gentle negative angle. In front of the road was The Golden Peacock Mall, and Golden Peacock Hotel in the background towering everything. The mall is one of the biggest in City Centre and boasts of shops, restaurants and office space.
At the bottom of the road the fun abruptly vanished. The route turned right, and up, and up and up, towards the finish line. This was the last challenge meant to test the resolve of both the experienced and the uninitiated. Capital Hotel was to the right, and Mungo Park further up the road. The latter has the only five-star hotel in the country, and also has the prestigious Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC). All these are beautiful compounds, but at this point, it was likely that the runners were not noticing these, only focusing on completing the race at BICC.
There was three watering points along the way, and at each junction a race official would pair with police members showing directions and controlling traffic. The preparation that went into this must have been massive considering the attention that was given to the details.
THE TOP TEN
Then came matters of ranking. The first position went to John Waldron who clocked an impressive 47:22 minutes, and the second position went to Jochebed Mpanga who did 53:55 minutes, followed by Maya Kachenga with 54:29 minutes. Here’s a complete list of the first ten runners to hit the finish line:
Joni Waldron 47:22
Jochebed Mpanga 53:55
Maya Kachenga 54:29
Cynthia Mahata 57:49
Lindiwe Nkhambile 57:51
Rose Chapola 1:00:08
Iris Borsch 1:02:47
Orama Mwase 1:03:06
Racheal Shilup 1:03:29
Nyasha Vera 1:05:59
Other than the first three positions, the top ten list was dominated by valiant ladies who sailed through the route as if on the wings of swans. A big congratulations to the top ten. You did us all proud.
Top Three, John to the left.
The Youngest Troop
Ladies in the Top Ten
Between the first and second booths, as we were negotiating the slope of the Area 18 road, I spied a towering figure pumping up the slope without effort. He could easily be twice my size, and than fascinated me. He was accompanied by a companion, whom I assumed was a wife. When I got close, I decided to introduce myself. I assumed he was the CEO of Standard Bank. He was gracious enough to respond to my questions while we were still in stride. After introducing myself as the blogger for Be More, I reached deep within and tried to increase my pace. I mean, I thought it was important to make the right impression being our first meeting.
I took off and left them in the distance. But by the time I was negotiating the last slope towards BICC I spotted the pair approaching with strong intent to overtake. I reached for the dregs of any energy reserves that were left in the tank and took off awkwardly. I silently promised myself that the only thing left that mattered was to be ahead of them, even if it meant just a metre separating us. I crossed the finish line with a short distance between us. I don’t think he knew there was a competition at play here.
Later on, I got formally introduced by Thoko Unyolo, the Head of Marketing and Communications and the chief engineer behind the Be More Races. I was fortunate to be granted a short interview. William and Debbie le Roux are a power couple, having participated in the Mzuzu City Race already. Debbie is a kindred spirit having a passion to hiking. She has already been to Mulanje Mountain, our famous and tallest massif in Malawi.
Here’s an excerpt of the interview:
Kondaine: “What is your message today?”
William le Roux: “We want to see more interaction between our customers and the staff. We want to see our customers and staff spend more time outdoors than being in the banking hall. For that reason we have introduced Digital Channels, and with it a digital app that is best in its class. It is linked to Airtel Money. It is an App 247, that will allow you to easily access your account anytime, anywhere. Together with online banking, you can easily access the bank services from the comfort of your bedroom, or anywhere.”
He paused. After a brief reflection he continued.
“We believe that wellness is good for business. It is good for the community. We believe that wellness is good to our customers and to our staff. And we would like to encourage everyone to embrace the outdoors lifestyle by participating in the Be More Races. That’s the message today.”
We shook hands and parted our ways. I must say this was a classy appetizer. Time and opportunity willing, I’d wish for a more comprehensive interview that will tackle a wide range of issues concerning Standard Bank, the athletics and of course the Be More Races. But for now, this was a timely glimpse into the most powerful man at Standard Bank, participating, and engaging with customers and the business community.
The stars for the day were all those that showed up, without whose presence the City Race would not have been a success. This was fun, and to say that it was an achievement would be making an understatement. The run/walk has given us all an idea of the scope of the main race. Be More Race on 9 June will be twice the fun, twice the challenge, and twice as long.
If you happen to be in Lilongwe over the weekend, look up the calendar and you’ll see you had put a small cross on 12 May. That’s because that was a day reserved for Be More City Run/Walk.
Come and join the athletes ,families and fitness enthusiasts who will breeze through 10 km as an appetizer for the main race in June. The rest of us will run – at our pace or even walk. Some will run a little bit, and walk some more. Whatever the strategy, it will be important to participate.
The race will start promptly at 6:00. These races are known for time keeping. So it is best to show up early. You can register online or via Whatsapp for free . Check the details on the poster below. If you are busy, you can also register tomorrow. Just make sure you give yourself enough time for the registration.
To all of us, remember to have plenty of sleep and hydrate ahead of the race. Dehydration is a show-stopper. So drink lots of water and other fluids. And as usual, stay away from the hard stuff.
See you at the start line. And remember the main race is coming on June 9, 2018 in its inaugural city, Lilongwe.
Be More Race has introduced interim runs this year as a way to raise awareness of the main race on 9 June that will take place in the scenic Lilongwe City. This triad has targeted the three main cities, Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. Each hit has been aptly named City Race and it covers 10 km. The races for Blantyre and Mzuzu have already taken place. The first one was in south on 14 April and in the north on 21 April.
Now it’s a golden chance for Lilongwe to have a taste of this sumptuous race. 10 km is just enough to get you sweating and give you pointers for the main race to come next month. The Be More Lilongwe City Race will take place this coming Saturday on 12 May 2018. It will start at exactly 6 in the morning. It will start from Standard Bank Capital City Branch at City Centre. Admission is free of charge. I guess it doesn’t get any better than that.
I’m planning to attend and see how far my preparations have been. It will also be an opportunity to learn from other runners and pick up a technique or two. If you happen to be in town please plan to attend.
Excitement is in the air. What looked like a distant prospect is now just 40 days away as we count down to the Be More Race on June 9th.
The 2018 edition has taken off to a flying start with 10 km city races underway. Blantyre was first, followed by Mzuzu. Lilongwe is next on 12th May 2018.
The city races aim to prepare runners ahead of the main heat on 9th June 2018. They also act as a build-up to the main race and should drum up public support through social media.
So where does that leave you and I? I hope we have been making progressive preparations in all areas that matter. Remember to enjoy the day, one will need to build endurance, improved breathing, and hopefully, became lighter on the feet.
If your progress is not where it should be, don’t lose heart since there is still some time to catch up on the effort. However, should it be clear to you that this will not be possible, then consider the different options on the table.
The main event will be an odd 21 km, and there will be another one for 10 km, and lastly, there will be a fun run for 5 km. Plan to attend, and aim to participate in any of the three. But what if all these are still tough for you? Well, don’t despair. You can still turn up and take a walk for as far as you can go. It will inspire you to love outdoors and do something about your physical fitness.
Remember, this race is about family, social inclusion and setting personal records. So mark up your calendar and keep 9th June 2018 free.
The countdown for the Be More Race is in full swing. Already we are now down to 79 days, left. Have you started your preparations? The race is for the swift to win like that adage an early bird catches the worm. So if you haven’t taken to the tracks yet, now is the time.
Later on in this series, we are going to talk to the winners of last year’s race in order to obtain useful insights for you as you prepare. For now, we can start with the basics:
Run, my brother run. Run, my sister run.
The best advice I ever got on anything was when I was preparing to hike Kilimanjaro was that practice is the best teacher. If you will hike, the best you can do is hike often. So it goes that if you are going to run a half marathon, the best you can do is run a couple of half marathons. That is 21.2 km of fun and grit in the administration capital, Lilongwe.
Give it a try as soon as possible, and then collect the data to analyse. Are you generally weak? Are you having problems breathing? Are you too heavy? Or perhaps too light? Though I doubt if that would be a problem, but then you never know. Are you too slow? This one will be important if you want to finish among the top 10 or top 50, whichever is comfortable to you.
Watch for general fitness
Some skills are required for specific type of sports, but fortunately, some are generally generic across the board. One such skill is the ability to be in a state of general fitness. This means you can be able to run, walk, jump, swim, bend, stretch, twist without attracting any groans. Whatever your plans for the race may be, I would suggest you start working towards gaining this level of fitness. A visit to the gym at least twice a week, or a walk three times a week, or a run over the weekend, will push you towards this state.
It’s time to give up a bit of couch potato rights and start getting active. It doesn’t have to be excessive for now. Just a little bit every day will give you some decent results. After all, when you are generally fit, it is easier to avoid physical injuries.
Visualise the challenge
Maybe this one should have been the first thing to do. Do you have an idea how long is 5 km, 10km or 21 km? Get on a familiar road and measure this distance. These days it is not difficult to achieve this. You can use a number of apps on iPhone or any Android phone. You can also use the odometer in your car. Drive the distance, then walk the distance. You can even run the distance later. Have a mental picture of the distance you will cover on the day of the race. That will help you build stamina against the challenge.
Gone are the days when it was a macho thing to walk for a month without taking a glass of water. You need to train yourself to take water regularly. Start doing that now, so that by the time to race comes, you’d have conditioned yourself to maintain healthy levels of hydration. You’ll need it.
So forget about studying the camel for now. On that day, you’ll be like the hippo. Not, the shape of course, but the love for water. You will have taken a lot of water the previous day, and on the day of the race, there will be more bottles waiting for you.
Sleep, and sleep some more
How much do you sleep these days? To be a great athlete you must learn to rest the body. And sleep, in large quantities, achieves that better than any other method of resting. Start working towards sleeping normal hours so that by the date of the race, you would have trained your body to rest, relax and be in primal condition for a day of fun and endurance.
I wonder if sleep could be adopted as a hobby. I know most of us could use more sleep everyday.
Take it easy
This will seem to contradict the first point. As much as it is important to jog often, it doesn’t have to be a daily activity. You will have to pace yourself. Listen to your body and give yourself frequent breaks. Maybe between the long runs, you could have days for sprinting very short distances. You might also push between the runs, a visit to the gym or a walk in the park.
The point is that don’t try to be gazelle, cheetah, and elephant all rolled into one within 79 days. Take it easy. Do the best you can, and avoid injury.
Tell a friend
It’s great to win. It’s even greater to win among friends. Anyone who will participate will gain something because with Be More Race, everyone is a winner. Build a local team by inviting friends to join the race. And this is the best time to gel with your team members. Plan to do weekly runs together. The more the merrier.
Well, now that you have basic tools, it’s time for you to put them to use. Wishing you great preparations as we are all looking forward to that great race, which is among Malawi’s greatest races. Remember, it is 79 days to go.
Standard Bank’sBe More Race returns in June in the city of its birth, Lilongwe. Finer details are still being worked on, but the most important news is the excitement of the second edition taking place in Malawi’s Administrative Capital.
I’m excited to cover the event as it falls under outdoors and adventure, two key attributes of this blog. It also includes family, running and walking. Last year, the turnout was around 1500, and this year, numbers are expected to increase. I will do my little part to motivate others to join the race. I intend to participate for the fun part of it, and will be sharing my experiences along key phases of the race.
Be More Race is more than just running the distance. It offers several categories to accommodate children, casual runners and competitive athletes.
The Be More Race takes the format of a half marathon, which starts from Standard Bank’s imposing Head Office compound in the heart of Lilongwe’s City Center. For those with a keen eye, Lilongwe is a city that is green with trees and well manicured gardens as you drive around it.
Be More Race is fun. It has a category for casual runners, which covers the first 5 km. This is best suitable for families that want to develop an outdoors lifestyle. The children love it, and get to see athletes in action. At the finish line, there are games for the little ones, to keep on engaging their young minds.
Be More Race is five-star entertainment. All participants are treated to live modern music performances. Sumptuous food bites are served along with drinks.
Be More Race is tough. The duelling distance of 21 km under the blazing African sun requires ruggedness, persistence and a resolute mind. Those that set their mind to finish the entire course are made out of tough – nothing else.
Be More Race is very competitive. The race is open to professional athletes that gun for the top positions. There is an award and a podium moment for the first three athletes (3 Men and 3 Women). Runners pour out their souls as they fight to be the very best. After all, such an accolade will last for an entire year, and it is worth fighting for.
Be More Race is a prestigious occasion. Last year, the Guest of Honour, was the State Vice President Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima and accompanying him was the Minister of Labour,Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Honourable Francis Lazalo Kasaila. Both the opening and closing ceremonies were graced by dignitaries from all walks of life and different levels of society. Most even attempted to cover some respectable distance.
Be More Race is one of the biggest corporate racing event in Malawi. The private sector, customers, leaders of Government, and diplomatic corps converge together to be part of this rallying call. Others choose to be partners by providing specific services and products.
Be More Race is forward looking. It is simply the one of best, toughest, yet all-inclusive and family friendly events in Malawi. While being fun all the way. Keep the date. Be More!