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Maltese-Canadian, 67, places first in Vancouver marathon

He started running again when he was 60

Joseph Camilleri flew the Maltese and Canadian flags at the Vancouver marathon where he came first in his age group category.

Joseph Camilleri flew the Maltese and Canadian flags at the Vancouver marathon where he came first in his age group category.

A 67-year-old Maltese-Canadian, who made it first to the finishing line at the BMO Vancouver Marathon within his age group, is gearing up for the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Joseph Camilleri, originally from Ħamrun, quit running when he moved to Canada aged 19, but started again when he was 60.

Earlier this month, he took part in his first marathon, coming first out of 47 men in the 65-69 category, and 442nd out of the 3,649 participants.

With his successful marathon debut, Mr Camilleri has qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon which he hopes to complete in April 2018.

“I am always looking for a new challenge, and after doing numerous shorter races, including five half marathons, I figured it was time to step up to this new challenge, that of running a marat-hon,” Mr Camilleri, who had left Malta “for a bit of adventure”, told this newspaper.

I am always looking for a new challenge

“Between 1963 and 1969 I was one of Malta’s top runners, representing the Alpines Athletics Club (Sliema). Once I emigrated I stopped running altogether though and did not pick it up again until I was 60.”

It was when he visited Victoria, in British Columbia, in 2010, and he saw the Terry Fox statue, that Mr Camilleri was inspired to pick up running again.

In the 1960s Joseph Camilleri was a top runner in Malta.In the 1960s Joseph Camilleri was a top runner in Malta.

Mr Fox, a Canadian hero, was diagnosed with cancer at a young age and had his right leg amputated. Once he recovered, Mr Fox ran across Canada on a prosthetic leg to promote and raise funds for cancer research.

Mr Camilleri’s racing venture has earned him the affectionate name of “crazy legs”.

On hearing that he had started running and fundraising for the Terry Fox Foundation for cancer research, his wife’s friend remarked: “I will support your crazy legs”.

The nickname stuck for good.

Mr Camilleri visits Malta regularly and, while here, he also takes part in races. In 2012 he did the Marsa and Birzebbuġa 10k races, finishing second and first respectively in his age category. In 2015 he finished first in the Qawra 10k, also in his age bracket.

Asked about his secret for doing so well at his age, Mr Camilleri said he believed it was his competitive nature, perseverance and passion that motivate him to be the best that he could be.

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