Malta Marathon

2020 GIG Malta Marathon

Josann Attard Pulis crossed the line first to claim the 2020 Malta Marathon to complete a fantastic day for local running as the annual race returned on schedule after last year’s cancellation.

Lisa Marie Bezzina and Charlton Debono were also victorious in the half marathon race with the latter setting a new Maltese National Best time in the men’s race. 

Morocco’s representative Hicham El Barouki flexed his muscles over challengers Rachid Kissre, of Italy and six-time Malta Marathon winner Mohammed Hajjy to claim the men’s marathon in 2:16:47 – 41 seconds off the marathon record set by Hajjy in 2013.

Mark Herrera was the first Maltese runner home in the full marathon in 2:36:56 to cross the line sixth overall ahead of Jeremy Fenech (2:41:26) and Jonathan Balzan (2:43:40).

Attard Pulis, winner of the Malta Marathon in 2017, completed the 42km race in a time of 3:05:06. Great Britain’s Catherine Simpson was second in 3:10:38 with Catherine Chetcuti completing the podium in 3:13:33.

“It was a very difficult race as we ran against the wind and that affected the athletes’ finishing times without doubt,” Attard Pulis said.

“From my point of view, I am very pleased to have been in control of this race and place first, despite not being in a perfect shape.

“Having said that, I am now focusing on resuming training and focusing on my improvement before committing myself to other races, both locally and abroad.”

Debono dominated the male half-marathon when completing the distance in 1:05:50 to set a new course record for a Maltese athlete in the 21km race, surpassing the late Gerald Degaetano’s record time of 1:07:19 set in 1990.

“I’ve been looking forward to this year’s marathon after the 2019 Malta Marathon was cancelled, even though my presence was in doubt due to an injury that I had sustained,” Debono told Times of Malta.

“It was a difficult race in a lot of wind but I feel that I am in a very good form – probably the best shape I have ever been in – and it reflected in my performance as I dominated the race and managed also to set a new record.”

Asked about his future plans, Debono explained that he will be representing Malta in the upcoming World Athletics Half Marathon Championships which will be held in Gdynia, Poland on March 29.

Dillon Cassar and Stefan Azzopardi made sure of a Maltese podium as they crossed the line in second and third place in 1:08:43 and 1:09:25 respectively.

Bezzina, winner in 2018 at a time of 1:19:27, improved that time to 1:17:41 as she crossed the line first.

She was followed by fellow Maltese runners Joelle Cortis (1:19:48) and Roberta Schembri (1:22:34).

“I am really pleased with with my performance as I led the pack from start to finish and clocked a time of 1:17:40 – an improvement from two years ago,” Bezzina said.

Last week, Bezzina was named Sports Woman of the Year by the Malta Sports Journalists Association and Sport Malta – a feat that indicates as an extra motivation for her success in the Marathon.

“Winning the marathon just a week after being honoured with such award was a massive boost for me ahead of this race,” Bezzina explained.

“I am 40 years old but according to my coach I still have a lot to give and that means a lot for me – I am now looking forward to represent Malta in Poland in the Half-Marathon Worlds where hopefully I can make my nation proud.”

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