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Entry list rises to 3,200

2012 winner Hajjy to defend title

Mohammed Hajjy... back to race in the Land Rover Malta Marathon on February 24.

Mohammed Hajjy... back to race in the Land Rover Malta Marathon on February 24.

Record entries at the Malta Marathon show no sign of abating as it was revealed yesterday that this year’s edition has again attracted unprecedented numbers with some 3,200 runners expected on the starting line at Mdina Gate on February 24.

There will be 465 in the marathon, 1,800 in the half-marathon and the walkathon will feature 1,000 entries, new benchmarks in all three events.

Joe Micallef, chairman of the Malta Marathon Organising Committee, could not hide his delight during yesterday’s official launching of the 2013 races.

“This is a huge response we’ve had,” Micallef said at the Radisson Blu Resort.

“We’ve always had larger numbers coming in ever since our first marathon in 1986,” he said.

“The numbers rose to 1,400 in 2010 and continued to grow with last year’s entry field totalling 2,500. This time we went beyond the 3,000-barrier and we had to turn down a few other applications as we had reached our limit.

“This success is the fruit of the hard work put in by the organising committee. Here, I would like to make a special mention of the late John Walsh.

“John was the brains behind this increase in popularity. His contribution was key to this success... his memory will live forever with us.”

Micallef said the race will maintain the same course with the marathon, half marathon and walkathon all starting from Mdina and the finishing line again established at the Sliema Ferries.

The full marathon gets under way at 8am and the half marathon and walk starting concurrently at 9.20am.

Micallef said they have succeeded in luring the strongest field of elite athletes possible.

Morocco’s Mohammed Hajjy, who won the 2012 marathon in 2:19.04, will be back to defend his title along with fellow countrymen Abdelkebbir Kabbouri, last year’s runner-up, and newcomer Cherkaoui El Makhrout.

“We have also invited Ethiopian runners Abdulhakim Obse Chocke and Yohannes Bogale Meless. However, their participation is still not confirmed as they have yet to finalise their paperwork. But we’re hopeful of having them with us,” Micallef said.

Jonathan Balzan will be Malta’s main challenger in the marathon after placing third last year while Carmen Hili and Angele Sammut, winners of the 2012 full and half marathon respectively, are also expected to defend their titles.

Charles Darmanin, the only athlete to have completed all previous 27 Malta marathons so far, will also be at the starting line on February 24 to prolong his unique record.

For the sixth successive time, micro-chip devices will be used to record times and positions of race participants.

Italian personnel will be here on race day to make sure that the system will work perfectly, Micallef said.

He also reiterated the organisers’ stance that cyclists will not be allowed to accompany runners to ensure maximum safety along the route.

This year, all finishers will be given a commemorative medal that has been designed by local artist Charles Cassar.

Sponsors’ boost

Also present for the launching yesterday was Henry Scicluna, general manager at race sponsors Muscat Motors.

“At Muscat Motors we are proud to collaborate with the Malta Marathon Organising Committee to make this event a memorable one,” he said.

“Joe Micallef and his staff have done another great job and we’re confident that this year’s race will be another great experience for all the participants.”

The Malta Marathon is also being supported by San Michel, Powerade, Urban Jungle and eworld.

Meanwhile, as in past years, there will be a Fun Run on race day at the Ferries.

The event is open to parents and children and will get under way at 9am.

The Fun Run is being coordinated by Pembroke Athleta.

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