A RUNNER taking on the Simplyhealth Great North Run has been signed up to help inspire a new generation of runners in his birth country.
Eddie Ware will fly the flag for the African country of Malawi, having answered the call to find a runner from every United Nations member state as part of the Great World Run initiative.
The 38-year-old, who moved to the UK at the age of four, will join 57,000 people on the start line on Sunday 10 September – before taking on the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon a month later.
News that Eddie would be representing his home country travelled quickly to the Malawi High Commission, who promptly invited him to meet with diplomats to discuss his upcoming half marathon exploits.
Eddie, who lives in East Ham, London, said: “It was mad - they are so many interested in my story as never in the history of the country has anything like this happened. I believe this news will hit Malawi soon and the nation will be so proud.
“We discussed going further and doing stuff over in Malawi, training the next generation of runners, I met the defence minister and talked about possibly training some of the army, and perhaps starting a new marathon over there as they don't have one.
“I'll be the figurehead to inspire those people over there on matters of health and nutrition.
“The guy at the embassy wants me to go over to do a two-week clinic in Malawi, to talk to people about what I've done, then they want me to take part in a Malawi Mountain Run which attracts worldwide runners, it's 25k in the Malawi hills at altitude.”
Eddie, who works in the film industry, has been running since 2010, and is excited at the prospect of visiting the North-East of England for the first time when he takes on the world's biggest half marathon.
He added: “I've seen Mo [Farah] winning there and I thought I fancied a bit of that. I'm always up for something new. I haven't been to that neck of the woods yet so it'll be interesting.
“It's amazing to know that there'll be so many countries represented. It's bringing people together. The Great North Run is huge anyway but this will take it to a whole different level going forward.”
Eddie's introduction to running was unorthodox. While many runners start with a short distance such as a 5K and build their way up, Eddie's first ever event was the final 28.8-mile section of a five-day ultramarathon challenge.
He explained: “I was working for a company in Pinewood Studios, and it's all down to a Cypriot girl. There was a military charity in the office next door and she put me forward to run in an event, which was basically an ultramarathon every day for five days.
“At the time I was a fry-up specialist and beer drinker and then I turned into a runner. It was for a good cause, so I thought ‘let's raise a few quid'.
“I ended up in Wiltshire running over tank tracks, up motorways and that.
“From that, I spoke to a friend who recommended running the original marathon course in Athens, from there I got the bug.
“I had no interest in running previously but I suppose I have the Malawi genes, and I'm blessed with the ability to do this from the higher powers, I have a good mix of British genes and Malawi genes.
“From there I went on to run London, Glasgow, Malta, Belfast, Athens, Sydney, Frankfurt and Hamburg. It's kept me out of the boozer, that's for sure.”
He is now the proud owner of a 2.47.21 marathon personal best, and is relishing the opportunity to work with the Malawi authorities in inspiring the next generation of athletes in his home country.
He said: “It's going to be amazing to make this happen. It's another challenge for myself but it's also about helping people. After talking to all the Malawians they need something like this, in their words they said it could be a blessing in disguise that I've shown up. It is kind of humbling for them to say that – I'm happy to help in whatever way.
“That's all come from just running.”
How To Get Involved
For more information on the Great World Run initiative and to find out which countries are yet to be represented, visit greatrun.org/gnrworldrun
If you think you can help and would like to be considered for the campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Potential participants are required to have been born in the country they wish to represent and be able to verify it