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ATHLETICS | Mario Grech and Tara Abdilla emerge overall winners of the Eurosport Malta International Challenge Marathon

24th Nov 2019

In: Athletics Post By: Maria

Final stage of the 3-Day challenge takes place as planned despite inclement weather conditions

The inclement weather conditions that greeted the athletes undertaking the Eurosport Malta International Challenge Marathon did not dampen their competitive spirit as they undertook Stage 3 of the race -  the 21km course. 

The Challenge Marathon, which has been taking place on the last weekend of November for the past twenty-nine years, consists of a marathon (42kms) spread over a period of three days – 16.094kms (10 miles) on Day 1, 5kms on Day 2 and a half marathon on the third day.

This year’s Challenge came to an end on Sunday morning when the gruelling half marathon route starting from Bugibba and ending in Qawra saw nearly 200 atletes race to complete their three day journey.

Once again it was Philip Vella (Mellieha AC)  who cut across the finish line first, beating Mario Grech by just five seconds. Vella finished the race in 1 hours, 23 minutes 33 seconds. In third place was Imed Ben Moussa (La Salles Athletics Club) who registered a time of 1 hour, 26 mins 15 seconds.

In the overall classification it was Mario Grech (Starmax Athletic Club) who claimed top billing. This was due to his win in the first leg of the race and for which he garnered nearly four minutes advantage over Grech.  Ben Moussa retained his overall third place.

Challenge Marathon - Top 3 males

Photo Credit: Chris Vella Petroni

“This was a highly positive experience and am very satisfied with my achievements especially when this race is considered to be one of the most prestigious events on the long distance calendar in Malta.  I consider the first race of the Challenge as being the determining factor and I gave my hundred percent! I split the second and third races tactically.  For me this win is a result of the hard work put into training, something which is not perhaps widely appreciated by those not in the sport.  A big well done goes to Philip Vella for his performance and thank you to my family, coach Jesmond Bonnici, my team and of course last but not least Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club for organising this event” – Mario Grech, Overall Winner 

Challenge Marathon - Top Male - Mario Grech

Mario Grech - Male Winner of the 2019 Eurosport Malta International Challenge Marathon | Photo Credit: Chris Vella Petroni

“Racing three days on 42 kms of Maltese roads, fighting strong winds and storms, is definitely a Challenge worth accomplishing. In my eyes, all those taking part are winners!” -  Philip Vella, Stage 2 and 3 Winner

Tara Abdilla (La Salle Athletics Club) continued her winning streak, registering her third win. Abdilla finished the half marathon in 1 hour, 34 minutes 40 seconds.  She was followed five minutes later by Tiziana Bonnici and Michelle Rolfe. The latter two had a gap of twenty seconds from each other’s finishing times.

In the final classification it was Tara Abdilla, Caroline Ciappara and Michelle Rolfe who took the top three places on the podium. This is Abdilla’s second win, after having won the event in 2018.  Caroline Ciappara’s result in the first leg of the race contributed to her placing in the overall podium.

Challenge Marathon - Top Female - Tara Abdilla

Tara Abdilla - Female Winner of the 2019 Eurosport Malta International Challenge Marathon | Photo Credit: Chris Vella Petroni

“My second Eurosport Malta International Challenge Marathon proved once more to be the great experience it promised to be! Three days focused on running, resting and recovering, looking forward to the next stage. A weekend filled with excitement, team spirit and fun! I take the opportunity to  thank the organisers and team for their dedication,  as I appreciate that such an event involves a lot of hard work!”Tara Abdilla, Overall Winner

 

The Gatorade Relay Team Challenge was won by Team Barry which was made up of Jonathan Balzan ( Stage 1), Matthew Xuereb (Stage 2) and Arron Mifsud (Stage 3) – all three athletes made a clean sweep by winning all the stages. In second place was Green Fox Runners – Paul Portelli, Franco Portelli and Claudio Camilleri who consistently took second place.  In third place was the all female team, Ladies on the Run consisting of Stephanie Smith, Louise Pisani and Marquita Muscat. The overall results were a reflection of the daily positions achieved by the three teams.

In this year’s edition, Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club, also launched a new initiative which saw a number of Club members acting as race marshalls on motorbikes. These marhsalls underwent road marshalling training by members of the Traffic Division of the Malta Police Force as well as First Aid techniques provided by certified instructors. 

“This year’s edition was not without its challenges, however Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club took the necessary initiatives to ensure that the race still went ahead whilst at the same time adhering to all the rules and regulations such events need to abide with in order to be sanctioned by the Malta Amateur Athletics Association and the local Authorities”, explained Euchar Camilleri, Secretary General, Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club. 

Camilleri also expressed his satisfaction towards this year’s participation, in particular to the international field of athletes.  He explained that the Race’s affiliation with AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) has seen a renewed interest and increased international participation by athletes who travel to Malta specifically for this unique race. Camilleri went on to congratulate all the athletes taking part who were not afraid to brave the elements and take the conditions in their stride.

The Eurosport Malta International Challenge Marathon is sponsored by Eurosport Malta, Gatorade, Farsons, AIMS, Dolmen Hotel, Malta National Aquarium, Ron Hill, Team Barry and supported by Nyoo, The Pasta Shop at PAVI & PAMA, Uncle Matt’s Kitchen.

The Club’s final commitements for 2019 will be the annual December 13th, Fleur-de-Lys 5k and 10km race which are also supported by Eurosport Malta. Registration for these races can be made online on https://bkarastjoseph.com