It is heartening nowadays to see all the women running to keep fit and taking part in league races and marathons. This was not the case in Malta in 1980s when it was near impossible to find a woman who was brave enough to go for a run on public roads.
The Ladies Running Club was the brainchild of a group of ordinary women who decided it was high time that women joined the world of running – a sport which up to then was completely dominated by men.
Women and girls were not members of the existing athletic clubs and consequently did not take part in official races. Only events open to women were 5k fun runs and All Comers events taking place mainly in summer, with minimal female participation and shorter race distances for the weaker sex.
One day Christine Attard and Anna Walsh met on a starting line of a race and agreed how there really should be a club for women that would encourage more of them to take part. Soon they were joined by other like minded pioneers who had been covertly running in the country lanes or officiating in sporting events as administrators.
They formed a club in March 1988 and named it Ladies Running Club. The motto and mission was Run For Fun. LRC was duly registered as an Affiliate member of the Malta Amateur Athletic Association and the main aims of the club set out in its statute are to:
- Ensure the non profit status of the club
- Ensure the amateur status of all its members
- Strive for the benefit of its members
The first committee of the Ladies Running Club was formed by:
Anna Walsh, Geraldine Cassar Torregiani, Christine Attard, Annemarie Holland, Josanne Cassar, Lina Borg Costanzi and Violet Rizzo.
The beginning was marked by great enthusiasm and family atmosphere. All races were viewed as welcome opportunity to participate and LRC members soon made their presence felt in local races, both in growing numbers, and at times even carrying placards with slogan ‘Ladies have arrived to run!’ Athletic track race events were a clean sweep for the club in all distances. One has to bear in mind that while they were the only female contestants taking part, the national records they set were held for years. The most illustrious member and Marathon silver medallist Carol Walsh (Galea) went on to represent Malta in the Mediterranean Games and Games of the Small States of Europe.
LRC established its own club race LRC 6 Miles in 1990 which was open for everyone. In continued spirit of inclusion wheelchair athletes took part in a race for the first time in Maltese Islands in 2013 edition of the LRC 6 Miles, which was later changed to 10K.
LRC raised the profile of athleticism for women in Malta. These efforts were recognised in turn by other local athletic clubs who began to accept female members, and official instances where LRC representatives were invited to receive the Queen’s Baton for Commonwealth Games on its arrival to Malta and participate as officials at Small States of Europe games.
The first female participation in the full Malta Marathon occurred in 1987 by a British lady. The first member of the LRC who completed the full Malta Marathon was Cettina Caruana. Since then, the Ladies Running Club has gone from strength to strength with a good number taking part every year in the Malta Marathon and Half Marathon, road and track races organised by the Malta Amateur Athletics Association and other local races, as well as growing participation in events overseas. The first Maltese national to run the Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa is LRC member Astrid Fleri Soler.