Jonathan Balzan and Marisa Muscat made it a happy day for St Patrick’s AC as they won the male and female categories respectively of the club’s own 10K race in Birżebbuġa, held recently.
Balzan started the race as favourite, moreso after setting a new personal best over the 5,000m distance at the European League Championships Third League.
He justified such billing with a rather comfortable win (33.42), the seventh in this summer race over the course of his remarkable career.
Inevitably, he was overjoyed at this result.
“Winning a race is already an achievement, winning it for a record time and knowing I still hold the course record makes it even better and one of my favourite races. I want to thank my coach Roger Zammit who certainly deserves a special mention,” Balzan said.
As for the race itself, he confirmed that it was a duel between himself and Jason Martin.
“Jason and I started together, quite fast, but then the hill started to take its toll. After the fourth kilometre I pulled away and felt he was not responding so I increased the pace.”
Mellieħa AC’s Martin finished the race in 35:10, just enough to edge out Pembroke Athleta’s Aaron Mifsud.
At 32, Mifsud was one the youngest runners among the leading runners.
“I have been running since I was a student at De La Salle,” he said after the race.
“I was one of the top athletes in my age group at the time. However, I was out of action for most of the past 15 years. I only started to train seriously since mid-June of this year.
“This had an immediate positive impact on my performances and my results.
“I am training under the guidance of Drew Lang, and this was an important factor to instil a sense of discipline and commitment that I previously lacked.”
As for Muscat, her victory in the women’s race was never in doubt as she ran home in 43:28, more than six minutes ahead of the second-placed Sarah Meli.
Caroline Ciappara, of Mellieħa AC, came third.
This year’s races were sponsored by the Malta International Challenge Marathon, Hilly Clothing, Nestle Fitness, Ronhill, Ray Sun products, The Fitness Corner and Isostar.
Men: 1. Jonathan Balzan 33:42; 2. Jason Martin 35:10; 3. Aaron Mifsud 35:42; 4. Matthew Cutajar 36:46; 5. Antoine Abela 36:47.
Women: 1. Marisa Muscat 43:28; 2. Sarah Meli 49:55; 3. Caroline Ciappara 51:34; 4. Clare Mifsud 52:09; 5. Annalise Pullicino 52:42.