Malta Marathon

2010 Land Rover Malta Marathon

25th Malta Marathon - February 28, 2010

Hicham El Barouki and Abdelhakimi El Fehi have been confirmed as the winner and runner-up respectively of the 25th Land Rover Malta Marathon.

The 2010 Land Rover Malta Marathon was held with a record entry of more than 1,400 participants on the starting line at Mdina for this annual sporting event which has now reached its 25th year.

The full marathon (42kms) takes the runners from Mdina Gate through Rabat, Nigret, Mtarfa, Ta' Qali, Mosta, Attard, Mrieħel by-pass, Marsa, Blata l-Bajda, Pieta`, Msida and Ta' Xbiex before the finish at the Sliema Ferries.

The half-marathon will see runners covering the same route as that of last year.

The novel idea this year is the walkathon which gets underway at 9 a.m. Participants, who number more than 200, will go through the same route as the half marathon. The walkathon was introduced by the marathon organisers to encourage more physical activity among the public.

Full Marathon

The Malta Marathon Organising Committee in a statement referred to the incident when the lead car took a wrong route, throwing the four front-runners off the course.

The two Moroccans continued the race despite having to cover an extra three kilometers but pre-race favourite Neals Strik of Holland, and local hopeful Jonathan Balzan had to abandon the race.

For this incident, the Malta Marathon Organising Committee (MMOC) accepts full responsibility. MMOC consulted the IAAF rule book in light of the following facts: a) the Moroccan athletes ran further than the official race distance; b) they were under the visual supervision of a race official at all times; and c) by running off course the athletes did not gain any material advantage.

For all of the above reasons the MMOC has officially awarded the Moroccans first and second place in the 25th Malta Marathon 2010.

Without in any way wishing to play down the negative impact of this incident on the four runners concerned, the MMOC has already held open and candid meetings with the Moroccan and Dutch runners concerned and all three have expressed themselves completely satisfied with the way the unfortunate incident has been handled by the MMOC. All three have kindly accepted the MMOC's invitation to return to Malta next year to once again take part in the Malta Marathon.

The MMOC said that even with the best will in the world, there is no way this incident could be undone.

The MMOC intends to reasonably compensate Jonathan Balzan for prize money he may have been denied by this incident despite the fact that his own stated anticipated predicted time would not have entitled him to any prize money. The MMOC feels this compensation could enable him to run a marathon abroad in lieu of this missed opportunity.

The MMOC said it deeply regretted the incident and was willing to do everything humanly possible to ensure that it would never happen again.

The MMOC added that the event was an immensely satisfying one for the vast majority of participants in the record entry field of over 1,400 competitors and once again express their appreciative thanks for the vital role played by our sponsor, partners, government agencies, officials, and helpers.

Half Marathon
Paul Grech

There's no doubting Carol Walsh's status as the leading long-distance runner among Maltese women.

Indeed a strong case could be made for her being the top female athlete of her time and her status was further enhanced at the 2010 Land Rover Malta Half Marathon as Walsh achieved her 15th success.

"It was very tough because there were other athletes who were pushing hard along the way and I couldn't afford to relax," Walsh, who did the race in 1:23:40, said.

"I have to admit that I feel a certain degree of responsibility to ensure that a Maltese athlete wins here, so I didn't want to lose the title."

Asked whether she preferred to be pushed hard for a win to an easy 'stroll', her reply was typically straightforward.

"If I'm being honest, I'd much rather have an easy race," Walsh said. "However, once you've won, it is much more satisfying when you've had to fight for the win."

Charles Cilia's win in the men's half marathon also came after a very keenly-contested race. The Maltese veteran was pushed all the way by the Briton Martin Lewis (1:13:00) but he held firm to secure his fifth win in the Malta Half Marathon in 1:11:41.

"Up until the 10th kilometre, we were running together but then I managed to open up a gap," Cilia, 45, said. "I'm very happy because the wind didn't make it easy."

Cilia ran the final few metres of his race with his arms spread as he remembered how the Spanish press had described him when he finished third in the Madrid 10K last year.

"The Spanish media said that I was like a falcon landing in Madrid so I decided to mimic a falcon here," Cilia said.

"My last win in the half marathon was in 2005 but I have to say that this one is the most special."

Third place went to Brian Magri (1:13:14) whose build-up to the race had been anything but plainsailing.

"I've endured injuries and also had a traffic accident," Magri said.

"So to finish third was, for me, an excellent result."

Among the women there was the welcome return of Lisa Bezzina, who had been away from athletics for the past two years.

"I was concentrating on starting a family," runner-up Bezzina said. "My daughter Chantelle was born ten months ago and I resumed training two months later. So I have to thank my coach John Walsh because without him, I wouldn't have made it."

Joelle Cortis finished third.

Two widows complete walkathon to raise awareness on cancer
Juan Ameen

Two women who lost their husbands to cancer put on their trainers and walked 21.5 kilometres in memory of their loved ones to raise funds for the Malta Hospice Movement yesterday.

Evidently satisfied on finishing the walkathon, Nicky Schembri, 44, and Simone Brincat, 57, encouraged everyone to do something for others in need.

About 1,400 people participated in the 25th edition of the 2010 Land Rover Malta Marathon, which started in Mdina and finished at the Sliema ferries, a distance of almost 42 kilometres.

This year, a walkathon was organised for the first time to encourage more people to take part. The two widows were joined by their friend and work colleague Christine Attard, 53.

Apart from the health aspect of walking, Mrs Schembri and Mrs Brincat also wanted to raise awareness about the disease that took away their husbands and, at the same time, collect funds for Hospice.

"I was inspired to take part because it was for the Malta Hospice Movement. I think it was my turn to do something for somebody else," Mrs Schembri said.

Her husband, Mario, an athlete and football player, lost his battle with cancer two years ago. "My husband was a tri-athlete and half-marathon runner. For me this is in his memory and for all the good work the Hospice did. It was my turn to do it."

Although she did not lose anyone to cancer, Mrs Attard also felt the need to send a message about the need to help the Hospice Movement.

"We walked and jogged for Hospice because there are so many people who are in need. We all have someone in our family who has lost someone to the dreaded disease of cancer," she said.

Mrs Attard was always into exercising and, in fact, was one of the founding members of the Ladies Running Club. However, taking part in the marathon was not something she took for granted.

"Less than six months ago, I had a slipped disc. I underwent surgery and I thought I would never power-walk or jog again. Here I am. I did it and I'm very happy," she said.

It was Mrs Schembri's first attempt at taking part in a similar event and she started training two months ago by going for long walks three times a week.

"The walkathon was a great opportunity for people who aren't incredibly fit. I have definitely been bitten by the running bug and will do it again next year," she said.