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New-look Challenge Marathon sets off today in Siġġiewi

Around 215 athletes will be on the starting line of the 26th EuroSport Malta International Challenge Marathon, starting in Siġġiewi today along with the Gatorade Team Challenge Relay, now in its third year.

Race organisers Birkirkara St Joseph, who took over the baton from race founder Barry Whitmore, expressed their satisfaction at the encouraging response from the runners notwithstanding the changes made to the three-day marathon.

While the overall distance, that of a full marathon, has remained unaltered, the organising team made the decision to amend the individual distances to reflect IAAF and AIMS regulations.

The first stage, at 1.30pm, is a 10-mile route starting and finishing at the Dar Tal-Providenza in Siġġiewi. This location has been chosen since these Homes have been selected as the official charity event by Birkirkara SJ.

Tomorrow’s second leg is a 5K route in Marsascala while Buġibba will host the final leg of the Challenge on Sunday. The concluding race will be along a 21km scenic route along the Coast Road.

“Although a number of regular athletes were a bit wary of the new route, this year’s race has seen the largest number of participants since 2001 and that is very encouraging,” Euchar Camilleri, the Birkirkara St Joseph Sports Club secretary general, said.

“There are also a good number of countries represented – Hungary, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia and the Czech Republic, among others.”

This year’s titles are up for grabs as 2015 winners Andrew Grech and Roberta Schembri are not competing.

Six-time winner Jonathan Balzan will be on the starting line but as part of a team in the relay event.

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