Feeding My Soul…

Malawi’s beauty continues to amaze me. After an emotionally charged week, my friends insisted that I join them in their jaunt to the small town of Mulanje, where the Mulanje Massif (with an elevation of 9,855 ft or 3,002 m) looms over the tea-growing district of Malawi below.

(Andrew, Emily and Michael at the start of the race)

Aside from the stunning scenery and beautiful hiking and trekking trails, the purpose of our visit was the twelfth annual anniversary of the famed Mulanje Porters Race. This race was unlike any I’ve ever seen. In fact, I would hesitate to call it a ‘race’ since ‘extreme sport’ appears to be more appropriate.

(Children along the race)

(More children…)

The 25km course led the 300 runners straight up the mountain along rocky hazardous paths into elevations high enough to not only affect the upper level air flow but also the weather (cold, sleet and rain). The course, which began in Likhubula (in fact, we stayed at the Likhubula Forest Reserve), ascended to the Chambe Plateau (2500m) then across to Lichenya, then back to the start, would’ve taken a ‘normal’ person 11 hours to hike. Yet, these runners/porters sprinted up and down the mountain in a little over 2 hours!

(Start of the race)

And, the majority of the Malawian runners were either barefoot or ran in shoes on the verge of collapse.

(Unbelievable shoes)

After the runners sprinted out of the starting gate, I explored the amazing Massif on my own (walking along the same path as the runners). I was acutely aware of my elevated heart rate as I hiked up the mountain and could only marvel at the athletic feat of the participants.

(Women crossing the river in the porters race)

(Carrying heavy loads)

The trail itself was gorgeous! I admired the morphing terrain as I hiked from grasslands to deep, forested ravines to gushing waterfalls, all the while enjoying the igneous rocks around me. These precious moments feed my soul, reaffirm why I live/work in Malawi, and give me strength to move forward.

(Hiking in Mulanje)

Ironically, my hike to just the waterfall and back prevented me from seeing the first runner cross the finish! However, I did see Tereza Master (the same marathon runner who was sponsored to compete in Austin) hauling ass down the mountain! She was the first woman to finish.

(Tereza close to the finish)

And I can’t say how proud I am of Emily, Andrew and Michael – who all competed and finished this incredible race. Many kudos to each of you!

(Andrew crossing the finish line)

After the race, we drove to Zomba where we stayed at the Ambassador’s Cottage. We spent the evening huddled by the fire, sipping wine, and reliving our glorious day.

(Michael, Emily and Andrew at the dam)

(Children at the Dam)

On Sunday, we hiked around Zomba – primarily for the athletes to loosen their muscles but also to relish in the beauty of Zomba. I am so grateful that I tagged along for the ride.

(Emily and Andrew)

(Emily and Amy)

Much love to all,

1 comment to Feeding My Soul…

  • Wow Amy…. Your pictures are always awesome but some of the ones in this set are stunning. The shoe one in particular. Do you have plans to do anything with it? That picture needs to be reproduced, reused, and shared. Maybe you should license it under Creative Commons?

    Hope the trip to the US goes well – see when you get back!

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