XTERRA trail run’s Malta leg, originally planned for April, will be one of the few races of the tour which will still take place after the season was halted due to the covid-19 crisis. The year’s event was launched on Thursday ahead of its new September 12-13 dates.
XTERRA Malta franchise owner Nathan Farrugia announced that despite logistic challenges, they had managed to condense a year’s programme into three months.
“It’s going to be busy but this is also preparing us for next year – We’ll be part of the televised series of XTERRA which will be broadcasted globally, promoting Malta as a sport venue to come and do triathlon, swim-runs, trail running and others so it’s a great opportunity to put Malta on the map,” Farrugia explained.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, Farrugia said following the effect of covid-19, XTERRA’s main consideration is safety and that participants and the organizing team itself are protected.
“Because Malta is doing so well in controlling (covid-19) and being disciplined, we felt it was safe for us to open up the race,” Farrugia admitted.
“We’re going to monitor the situation but obviously, now we have people who are committing with their flights to Malta, so we’re keeping a close watch to see how it will develop. But we’re confident we’ll be able to have the races.”
Farrugia also explained that while the races are still competitive, they are adapting to covid-19 requirements.
“Instead of participants all starting at the same time as a mass start, we’re going to start in waves so that there is social distancing between them. There’s zero-contact pickup of your number and the chip. We have a party after the race which we will be curbing. We’ll be giving out food and drinks people can find their own space and remain with close family who’ve travelled with them to avoid crowds.”
Farrugia said the it would be a more contained race which ‘makes it more intimate’.
“There’s an element of camaraderie which comes out of a smaller race which will be useful,” Farrugia remarked.
“I think the idea is also to test some new routes within the race itself to see if we can make it more beautiful and more exciting so, with smaller numbers it’s easier to test this and gear up for next season, hopefully a full season in 2021 which will eventually lead up to the world championships in Hawaii.”
Farrugia was accompanied yesterday by Energy minister Michael Farrugia, Water Services Corporation CEO Ivan Falzon and Malta Tourism Authority chairman Gavin Gulia.
The MTA has supported the event in Malta since its inception five years ago while the WSC will be sponsoring the event with a ‘Waterbuggy’ for the event.
Minister Farrugia described the concept, also launched yesterday during the press conference, as a measure to reduce the need for plastic bottles.
Dr Gulia insisted an event like this would bring in sports tourism which will market the country all year round.
“The (tourism) industry is volatile but events are being held again because it is also resilient. We’re happy to see that XTERRA is one of the events which were saved this year,” Dr Gulia admitted.