The Malta Marathon was called off last weekend by race organisers after the country was hit by one of the worst storms in recent years, with gale-force winds causing severe damage in various localities.

A total of 4,500 runners were expected to be at the starting line at the Mdina Gate on Sunday morning but the organizing committee decided to cancel the event on Saturday night after a meeting with the safety officers.

Joe Micallef, the chairman of the race committee, said nobody could question the decision to call off the race as the safety of the participants and the persons involved in the organization of the marathon were paramount.

“I think everyone will agree with our decision to call off the marathon,” Micallef told the Times of Malta.

“We waited until the last minute in hope that the weather predictions would improve but they didn’t. Obviously, there is great disappointment as preparations had been ongoing for the last 12 months. You can’t imagine how much logistical work is involved to organise the Malta Marathon. But it was just not to be.”

The decision to cancel rather than postpone the 2019 Malta Marathon took many by surprise but Micallef said that it’s almost impossible to hold the race on another date due to a packed racing schedule.

“It’s an impossible task to move the Malta Marathon to another date,” Micallef said.

“First of all, when we set the date of the race we have the police, wardens, security personnel, volunteers and scouts all booked and it’s very difficult to have all this entities available together on another date.

“Besides, to organise a marathon we need the permit from the Malta Amateur Athletics Association (MAAA). There is an agreement in place that says that the MAAA cannot issue a permit to stage a race on a weekend when there is already another running event scheduled.

“The running calendar is jam-packed with races and it’s almost an impossible task to find an alternative date.”

Micallef said that the Malta Marathon Organising Committee (MMOC) will not be refunding the athletes who were planning to take part in Sunday’s race but are considering to offer a discount for the 2020 edition. “The Malta Marathon Organising Committee has no plans to refund the 2019 entrants,” Micallef said.

“It’s clearly written in our regulations that participants will not get their €35 registration fee back if they don’t turn up on race day or the marathon is not held. Every participant agrees to these conditions when they register for the race.

“Unfortunately not many people really know how much it costs the organising committee financially to hold the race. We spent a lot of money to circulate fliers and banner around Malta to promote the race. We paid adverts in local newspaper to give the necessary information on our race.

“Added to that we have other expenses such as the bags that we give each participant to put their clothes for the race, the Facebook photo system, which cost us 10,000 euro so we have many expenses to cover.

“But having said that we are still considering to offer a discount to this year’s athletes who will be applying for next year’s race.

“We’re not obliged to do that but we’ll think about it.”

Micallef said that despite the cancellation of the event they will still be making the donation to the official charity of the race – Inspire.

“The MMOC has already decided that the money promised to our charity Inspire will be given to the organisation as promised,” Micallef said. “It’s a commitment that we want to keep.”

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