Nestle Fitness 25th Malta International Challenge Marathon – one of the highlights of the annual racing calendar was raced through the weekend of 20th – 22nd November 2015. It was the 25th Anniversary for the race that has been organised annually by its Founder and Race Director Barry Whitmore. LRC paid fitting homage celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the club by taking part in good numbers in the Challenge.
We had been preparing and training for the race for weeks if not months, taking on increasingly hilly long runs and scouting parts of the routes beforehand. But nothing can quite take away the butterflies of excitement before the start and there was definitely bubbling energy in the air when we lined up for the 1st leg of the Challenge on Friday in front of Mdina.
The day was sunny and clear and we were treated to amazing views over the Dingli Cliffs and countryside – if anyone had time to admire the scenery climbing those hills that is. Knowing the route by heart really paid off and whole team finished feeling strong and ready for the next day.
Good weather continued to treat us with an indian summer sunshine as we started on the 6k 2nd leg of the Challenge in Birzebbuga. This was unfamiliar route to all new to the challenge and the description of 3k up / 3k down turned out to be correct! There was quite a breeze picking up but fortunately it was not against us when we ploughed our way up to Hal Far. After the race some additional cooling of heels was in order and nicely available on site!
3rd and last day dawned ominous after a stormy night of rain and howling winds and last showers came down as we made our way to St. Paul’s bay for the starting line. This was the final push of 25k to finish with more challenging hills on the way. One thing was certain – we couldn’t have been doing this in better company. Endless jokes and laughs were coming as thick as any doubts anyone could have momentarily been feeling, being replaced by ‘we can do this! spirit. The support we received from our members and drew from each other were more energising than a shot glucose.
Admittedly LRC made a lot of cheerful noise on the finish line welcoming our members in but it was well deserved after three days of hard effort and racing. We had done it together and with our motto clear in evidence that we Run for Fun! As a cherry on the cake we had some terrific results as well, as Francesca Arrigo came in 5th overall in Women’s category, Rowena Pellegrini was 1st in Women over 35 category. Francesca Arrigo, Rebecca Gatt, Minna Hayman and Josette Portelli took 2nd Women’s team award, and Margaret Formosa, Audrey Craig and Daphne Dodebier won the Women’s Gatorade Team Relay.
It had been an unforgettable weekend of hard racing, laughing fits, nervousness and conquering fears, pushing up one more gruelling hill and rising up to the challenge as runners and together as a terrific team. So although our legs were certainly feeling the need for some rest, it also felt a bit sad that it had come to an end. Fortunately Barry announced that Malta Challenge Marathon will continue next year and offer us the opportunity to experience all this fun again! MCM Results 2015