Malta has recently become the 42nd country to play host to a race which has been certified by European Athletics Running for All.
The race to boast this proud distinction is the Teamsport Gozo Half Marathon, the country’s oldest road race which dates all the way back to 1977.
“We have successfully managed to take a good parochial event and transform it into one of the most successful sporting events in Malta,” said race president Karl Sultana on a race which has been given a three-star certification rating by Running for All.
The longevity and growth of the race over the last four decades is all the more impressive given the sparse governmental support on offer and the fact the entire race is operated entirely by volunteers on a part-time basis, driven purely by their fervour for the race.
“We all do this for the pure satisfaction of seeing this annual event grow,” said Karl. “By being volunteers we were able to attract several others, who continue to contribute and help us organise and maintain the race.”
Despite the modest support, the organisers view the race as a driver to change the wider social context in the country. Malta once again has the highest obesity rates in the European Union and one of the long-term goals of the Gozo Half Marathon is to influence attitudes to lifestyle in Malta.
“With our promotional work, we are continuously trying to promote and support those who are willing to make all the necessary sacrifices in order to give positive example, defy the odds and lead a healthy lifestyle,” said Karl.
“At governmental level, we genuinely feel that more is being done in terms of medical treatment towards those already affected by this problem rather than prevention and promoting a healthy lifestyle.”
The half marathon distance might be beyond the capabilities of those just starting out but the organisers cater for participants of all abilities. A walkathon has recently been added to the programme - and has proved particularly popular - but for runners embarking on the full distance, a challenging but picturesque route awaits.
“Expect a scenic and tough route!” said Karl. “It is very important to know that this point-to-point race takes the participants through the scenic countryside Gozo is very well-known for.”
A vast range of improvements have been implemented in order to meet the stringent criteria set by European Athletics Running for All. The course has been altered to get it exactly up to race distance and chip timing will also be used for the first time but the organisers are by no means willing to rest on their laurels. While further improvements will require an increase in expenditure and tremendous lobbying of the local authorities, Karl is confident the race will become a five-star certified event by 2019.
“We are extremely confident that an event of this magnitude will be enough to sway decisions in our favor. We look very much forward to achieve the five-star certification.”
For more information about the race, please click here.
The European Athletics Quality Road Race standards act as an assurance for road runners throughout Europe. They distinguish between races that respect the standards and those that haven’t sought certification or assessment. They form the foundation of Running for All, a strong recognisable brand for running activities throughout Europe.
More information on Running for All: