First edition scheduled for April 24
Maltese runners have a new race to look forward to as the first edition of the Intersport La Valette Marathon is set to be held on Sunday, April 24.
The marathon, which is the brainchild of Matthew Pace, Charlie Demanuele and Fabio Spiteri, is set to feature a full marathon, a half marathon and a walkathon and short distance relays, starting at the Sliema Seafront with the finishing line set in front of the Freedom Monument in Vittoriosa.
So far, the race has already attracted an encouraging number of participants as 775 have already registered and have the support of 14 sponsors, including VisitMalta.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, Pace said that the main idea behind the creation of this race was to try and combine Malta’s ideal climate, its easy access to mainland Europe and outstanding history.
“Malta really is the perfect location for sports,” Pace said.
“We have one of the best climates in the world, easy access to mainland Europe and an outstanding history. So, over a beer one day the three founders of CORSA, namely Fabio Spiteri, Charlie Demanuele and myself, we came up with the great idea of combining these elements and creating a new race.
“This will be a race not only for locals, but to also attract foreign runners and athletes to our shores to experience not only the race, but the culture and history of Malta as well.
“And so, the concept of the Intersport La Valette Marathon was born.
“The race consists of a full marathon (42km), half marathon (21km), walkathon (21km), full marathon relay (4×10.5km), half marathon relay (4×5.25km) and packages for company CSR and Team Building, so there really is something for everyone.”
Pace said that the races follow two main routes.
For the half marathon distance, the race starts at Exiles in Sliema and follows the coast around to Valletta, up to the Triton Fountain, around Valletta, down through the Malta Maritime Hub in Marsa and on to the three cities, finishing outside the Freedom Monument in Vittoriosa.
The full marathon route starts at the same location and follows the same route until runners branch off at Marsa and head south towards Birżebbuġa and then back up towards the three cities, passing through Żejtun and the outskirts of Żabbar, again finishing at the Freedom Monument in Vittoriosa – giving runners a beautiful race through parts of the island rarely run.
Asked what were the biggest benefits behind the relatively flat course of the race, Pace said: “The route is relatively flat, with elevation into Valletta and the three cities, but the route has more downhill than uphill.
“The route elevation is also important as the route have been certified by the World Running organisation AIMS and has to meet certain criteria in order to be approved, including elevation.
“In the case of the full marathon, this is the first time a marathon has qualified for this certificate and international recognition.”
Pace admitted that it was not easy for the race organisers to meet the criteria set by Transport Malta over the race route.
“In order to meet the criteria of every concerned organisation or governing body, the route has been changed 12 times,” Pace revealed.
“This is no easy task. Each tweak and change have to not only meet the requirements of Transport Malta, Infrastructure Malta but also AIMS. It has taken months of work and changes.
Pace said that the organisers are looking beyond this year’s race and are hopeful that this event can help put Malta on the map and attract the best athletes in the world.
“This race is not just for 2022,” Pace said.
“This is an event that we will be building on for the next ten years and beyond. We know that these have been difficult times for sports, and particularly sports in Malta.
“We are extremely grateful for the support that we have received to launch the Intersport La Valletta Marathon at a time when other races have been cancelled or postponed.
“Our vision is beyond 2022, and into the future, a vision that we also share with Visit Malta.
“We want to create sports events that are not only for the extraordinary and talented local runners and athletes but also to help put Malta on the map when it comes to bringing the best in the world to our beautiful islands.”