“The Żejtun Local Council is delighted to collaborate with 5 Senses Malta in the organisation of this first edition of the Żejt iż-Żejtun Half Marathon on the 18th September because this event is generating a lot of interest in the history, culture, lifestyle and the shared roots of Żejtun’s strong ecosystem especially when it comes to its olive oil tradition which dates back to the Roman period. In fact, the Żejtun Local Council is looking into establishing a Roman Heritage Trail that links the Roman remains at Tas-Silġ with the Roman settlement here in the heart of Żejtun.”
This was announced by Joe Attard, Mayor of Żejtun during the official launch of the Żejt iż-Żejtun Half Marathon which is being organised by 5 Senses Malta in collaboration with Starmax and the Żejtun Local Council. The Żejt iż-Żejtun Half Marathon, which has already attracted the participation of around 250 athletes, will be held a week before this year’s 10th Edition of the Żejt iż-Żejtun event.
Addressing the official launch at the Roman villa archaeological site at the St Thomas More Secondary School in Żejtun, Darryl Grima from 5 Senses Malta explained how the HOST project not only celebrates the olive oil trail and the culture of olive oil production but also presents an ideal way to discover the 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.
“In fact, the innovative aspect of this initiative is that it provides us with an opportunity to explore and promote an alternative and more sustainable form of tourism that takes the culture of olive oil production as its main source. This is why since the event is being promoted internationally, 5 Senses has also created tourist packages for visitors attending the Żejt iż-Żejtun marathon from overseas,” added Darryl Grima.
The launch was also presided by Hon. Stefan Buontempo, Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government who praised the initiative as one that covers many different aspects that centre around the community.
“This event boosts tourism and helps bring more people to discover this locality, encourages people to practice more sport, attracts new people to taking up sport and carries a strong cultural aspect related to the promotion of olive oil heritage and the Mediterranean diet. We augur all the success to this event and we hope that similar initiatives will take off in the future,” said Hon Buontempo.
The Żejt iż-Żejtun Half Marathon is spread along a route that passes through many attractions around the historic locality of Żejtun and can be run in full or as a relay with three team members running approximately 7km each. This event is also an ideal family trip. In fact the half marathon event also includes a 650m children fun run (as a fund raiser for Fondazzjoni Nazareth Żejtun) and a 2.6km fun run which can also be walked.
Three specific tourist packages centering round this unique olive trail half marathon are being launched namely Żejtun, Valletta and Surrounding Localities Package, the Żejtun, Valletta and Agrotourism Package and the Żejtun, Valletta and Countryside Walks and Bike Routes Package.
Tourists can travel to Malta to participate in this half marathon which is taking place on Sunday 18th and then link this visit to a number of visits to the localities round Żejtun. These packages are an opportunity to experience one of the most historic localities in Malta whilst enjoying a different and unique tourist experience which is more authentic and memorable.
“Żejtun is one of the oldest and most picturesque localities in Malta with a very rich history and therefore, we are ready to promote any event that celebrates our locality, its culture and its history. When it comes to the production of olive oil, Malta was always a key ingredient in the development of what we today regard as the Mediterranean diet specifically due to its prominent role in the production of olive oil and Żejtun must have been a protagonist in this industry. Over the past years, a renewal in olive tree cultivation spurred the Żejtun Local Council to start hosting its Żejt iż-Żejtun event every September to promote olive oil and its prominent role in the local cuisine, the Mediterranean diet and centuries-old traditions,” concluded Mayor Attard.
The Żejt iż-Żejtun Half Marathon is 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, marathons have already been held in Koper (Slovenia) and the Montepisano area (Italy). The Malta half marathon in September will be followed by another marathon 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.