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Debono wraps up title after victory in Ta’ Qali

Mario Grech (left) and Charlton Debono lead the way during the Ta’ Qali 10K as Andrew Grech follows closely behind. Photo: Wally Galea

Mario Grech (left) and Charlton Debono lead the way during the Ta’ Qali 10K as Andrew Grech follows closely behind. Photo: Wally Galea

Charlton Debono wrapped up his second consecutive Road Running League following a convincing run and first place at the Ta’ Qali 10k race held last Sunday.

The Gozitan repeated last season’s feat, that of winning all his first four legs of the series, organised by the Malta Amateur Athletics Association, to be declared overall winner with one race to spare.

At the end of the run, a visibly satisfied Debono said that he was pleased with the result, having successfully defended the title he had won for the first time in 2016.

“I will always treasure last year’s league, having been considered the underdog,” he said.

“This year I did not feel under any particular pressure even though I went into each race as the favourite. I’m happy with the time I clocked in each race, always faster than last year’s and always with a 20-second gap on my nearest pursuer.”

Debono said that he did not push himself to the limit at Ta’ Qali, deciding instead to run safely and simply do just enough to win.

“Conditions were okay weather-wise, despite the constant drizzle, but the downpour a few hours before the race made life difficult for everyone,” he said.

“I was very careful where to tread, fearing water-concealed potholes. It’s not worth risking a sprained ankle or worse at this stage of the season,” the Gozo Athletix runner added.

The fifth and final leg of the series will be held in Marsascala on April 9, when the likes of Jean Paul Debono, Mario Grech, and Simon Spiteri are expected to battle it out among themselves for the remaining podium places.

The women’s title, on the other hand, is still up for grabs, though last year’s winner, Lisa Marie Bezzina, having won the last three races including the one at Ta’ Qali, is the hot favourite to retain her title.

It’s interesting to note that among the 150 or so participants on Sunday was the former Manchester United FC captain Gary Neville.

Though not finishing among the front-runners, he did seem to enjoy the experience. If anything the race gave him a break from posing with scores of fans and admirers and signing autographs.

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