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Balzan, Hili retain LRC 10K titles

Women runners set the pace in season-opening Mdina Glass race

Around 100 runners gathered outside the Mdina Glass factory in Ta’ Qali last week for the start of the Ladies Running Club (LRC) 10K race, a long-established event that marks the start of the new road running season in Malta.

For the first time, the race was held early Sunday morning, a change from the traditional late Friday afternoon. Conditions were close to perfect as one would have expected on an early mid-September morning

Jonathan Balzan was again the dominant figure to retain the title he won last year.

At the one-kilometre mark, he had already opened a gap over his only realistic challenger on the day – Antoine Abela.

Balzan just kept pushing and increasing his lead until the finish line where he registered a creditable time of 33:36. In the end, he was almost two minutes faster than Abela with third-placed Natalino Farrugia only seconds ahead of seasoned runner Carmen Hili, the first woman home at the LRC race.

Hili clocked 39:13, bettering her personal best for the race, recorded in her win last year, by 20 seconds.

Like Balzan, Hili had no rivals in the women’s race. However, credit must be given to second-placed Angele Sammut, also runner-up in 2011. She was racing in the over-45 category for the first time and looked very strong throughout.

Josann Attard Pulis showed that she could be a future contender, placing third behind Sammut with Joelle Cortis not far behind. The latter seems to be well back into her running vein, having given birth to her first child less than a year ago.

Sandra Schembri and Marisa Muscat, also well into veteran status, registered excellent times on either side of 43 minutes and contributed to the depth of encouraging performances by women athletes at this race.

Mention must also be made of Kirsten Borg, who, despite having given birth to her first child a mere five months ago, managed to clock well under 44 minutes, looking stronger than ever.

Meanwhile, Mireille Gabaretta, who completed the distance in 44 minutes, received the Lina Borg Costanzi prize for being the first-placed member of the Ladies Running Club in the 10K race.

This year, the race organisers donated part of the proceeds to Dar Merħba Bik.

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