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150 participants for Challenge Marathon

The 2012 Nestle Fitness Malta International Challenge Marat-hon will take place on the weekend of November 23-25.

At the launch of this year’s event in Lija yesterday, Barry Whitmore, founder and race director, gave details of the three-day challenge and confirmed that the routes will be the same as in previous years.

The first stage – 11.195 km – starts from in front of Mdina Gardens and finishes in Rabat. The 6km second leg will be in Birżebbuġa and the final run will again take runners from St Paul’s Bay to Freedom Square in Valletta on a 25km course.

Whitmore confirmed that 150 runners are expected to take part with participants hailing from 12 different countries so far, namely, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Sweden and Malta.

Whitmore said: “This event now enjoys great respect among the local athletics community given the AIMS accreditation.

“The promotion drive of the Challenge organisers has put the country on the world marathon running map thanks also to the support of Nestle.”

With some popular names among the entry list, the three-day challenge is expected to reach high levels this year.

“Given the confirmed participation of four previous winners – Brian Magri, Jonathan Balzan, Carmen Hili and David Mansbridge – together with Russian Vladimir Sementov (with a 20km time of 1:00.50) and Poland’s Bartosz, (half marathon time of 1:06.40), the race is expected to be a keen contest,” Whitmore said.

It was also revealed yesterday that Whitmore was instrumental in securing a berth for Malta’s top long distance runner at the moment, Jonathan Balzan, to run in the London Marathon next year.

Whitmore thanked the sponsors for their commitment and support towards the organisation of the Challenge Marathon as well as the Police Force, the local councils involved, St John’s Ambulance Brigade, the Scout Movement and various other helpers.

Also present for the launching yesterday was Alfred Borg, the Corporate Communications Manager of Nestlé Malta.

“This year is the second time running where we are title sponsors of the Challenge Marathon,” he said.

“We wanted to be involved again since we now know what kind of contribution this event gives to Maltese sport and how the race promotes new opportunities for athletes.

“Most of all, this race sends out the same message that we constantly promote... that of leading a healthy lifestyle.”

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