Some 120 athletes participated in the first edition of the Żejt iż-Żejtun Half Marathon hosted on the 18th September in Żejtun.
The Żejt iż-Żejtun Half Marathon was spread over 3 loops of a 7.035km route round the historic locality of Żejtun. Besides athletes who chose to run the half marathon in full, a number of participants also chose to run as a relay in teams of three runners who ran 7km each. The event also attracted participation of children in a 650m fun run and a 2.6km fun run.
Charlton Debono came first in the male section, completing the half marathon in 1hr 14mins followed by David Galea in second place at 1hr 27mins 14 secs and Mauro Desira in third place at 1hr 27mins 24secs.
The female setion was dominated by Josanne Attard Pulis who completed the half marathon in 1hr 32mins. Amanda Rapa came second with a time of 1hr 42mins and Maureen Farrugia placed third at 1hr 47mins.
The relay section of the half marathon was won by the team composed of Caroline Ciappara, Jonathan Balzan and Mary Grace Demicoli who together clocked a final timing of 1hr 30min.
“As a first edition, we were very delighted with the response and the participation shown towards this event which appealed because of the unusual locality and the relatively very fast route,” said Darryl Grima from 5 Senses Malta who organised the event with event owner Starmax Club and the collaboration of the Żejtun Local Council.
“The novelty about this event was mostly owed to the fact that the Żejt iż-Żejun Half Marathon combined sport with history, culture, lifestyle and deep-shared roots of the Mediterranean countries with a strong connection to olive oil production. In fact, this initiative supports a more sustainable model of tourism that cares about respecting the local ecosystem and its traditional activities.”
The Żejt iż-Żejtun Half Marathon was the culmination of the project HOST - Heritage of Olive Tree for Sustainable Tourism – an EU-funded project hosted in Italy, Slovenia, Malta and Greece. FOOT - Fit On Olive Trails is the brand created by HOST for the running events. In fact, a marathon has already been held in Koper (Slovenia) and a trail in the Montepisano area (Italy). The Żejt iż-Żejtun half marathon will now be followed by another trail in Lesbos (Greece) in October. These are all locations with a strong connection to the culture of olive oil production.
HOST is an EU-funded project co-financed by the COSME programme of the European Commission with an overall budget of €239,991 for a period of 18 months from June 2015. The project is led by Fondazione Campus in Italy and includes another five international partners including: Timesis srl, The Municipality of Koper, The Regional Development Centre Koper, ETAL S.A and 5 Senses Ltd. representing Malta.