Moroccan runner Redouan Nouiri was delighted to break the race record at the Mata Marathon after finishing with a time of 2:13:18 on Sunday.
The previous record holder Muhammed Hajjy, also hailing from Morocco, had set the previous record ten years ago with a 2:16:06 time. But Nouiri came in around three minutes earlier among cheers at the finish line in Sliema.
“I’m tired but very happy today, especially after breaking the record,” Nouiri told the Times of Malta.
Nouiri, who was just a few seconds away from his personal best, led ahead of compatriot Hicham Boufar, who finished after 2:18:12, and Andrew Grech, third overall who made it in 2:31:42.
“The course is very beautiful, but, in some sections, the wind was annoying. I have to congratulate the organisers for putting together a practically perfect event,” Nouiri said.
In the women’s category, Scottish runner Jemina Farley led throughout the race, finishing in 2:36:51. She was followed by Josann Attard Pulis in 2:55:55 and Dzintra Grech, who completed the podium with a 3:11:19 finish.
For Farley, this was also a personal best after having finished the Loch Ness Marathon around six seconds slower than Sunday’s time.
“I’m really happy. I’ve been waiting to run the Malta Marathon – I wanted to run it last year, but it didn’t happen so I’m happy to come and do it this year,” Farley said.
“I’ve been aiming for a while, so I still haven’t decided what’s going to happen for the rest of my season yet. I’ll do some trail running now to give myself a break from marathon running, but we’ll see.
The 38th edition of the Half Marathon was dominated by Maltese winners as Luke Micallef and Lisa Marie Bezzina won their respective categories.
Micallef won with a 1:06:55 time, ahead of second-placed Shaun Galea (1:11:06), and Aaron Mifsud (1:11:15).
“I had been aiming for a time close to the one I made today, but sometimes there are minor changes to the route so you can’t really plan it exactly,” Micallef said.
“All in all, the Half Marathon route is a staple for many runners nowadays. In our case, this will serve as preparation for this year’s Games of the Small States of Europe.
“Hopefully, we can continue to achieve good times, even at shorter distances – five kilometers, and ten – but it’s always a pleasure to run this Half Marathon.
“This is the first time I’ve won it, a special honour for me as well, especially because I’ve been doing for quite some time, but I had never thought I’d get to this position. That is the spirit of running, the more you keep trying, eventually the greater the chance of success.”
In the women’s category, Bezzina won the race after finishing with a 1:19:03 time. Second was Edit Filo (1:25:24), and Sophia Moosbrugger (1:26:58) was third.
“I’m very happy with my result – for the seventh time, I’ve managed to win the Malta Half Marathon,” Bezzina said.
“Today we had a bit of rough wind and at the end where I should have increased my speed, I couldn’t, but to have finished first overall and paced ahead of foreign runners gives me a lot of satisfaction and it shows that all the training I’ve done has reaped its rewards.
“After this, I have the five-kilometre championship where of course, I’d like to do well in. Hopefully I can do the qualifying time to be able to take part in the GSSE and represent Malta.”
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