Team Malta secured a very positive performance at the European Athletics Off-Road Championships in El Paso on the Canary Islands, Spain, a continental event that combines the disciplines of trail and mountain running. Malta managed to secure a number of respectable positions in the various events, including a memorable top 10 finish in a feisty 18km uphill/downhill mountain race, beating top running nations such as Portugal, Ireland and Denmark in the process.
The team for the race consisted of Luke Micallef (Pembroke) – who was running merely 48hours after a gruelling 9km uphill race – who placed a very respectable 24th in a field of top European runners, as well as Simon Spiteri (St Patrick) and Aidan Tanti (La Salle), who all secured a placing among Europe’s best 50 athletes. Among the women, Tara Abdilla (La Salle) came in 48th place, a very strong performance for Malta’s well-established mountain and trail runner.
In the 9km Classic Uphill Race, Micallef claimed 30th spot, battling all the way with defending European Champion Jacob Adkin of the United Kingdom, finishing just five seconds behind. Jake Fenech (Libertas Malta) also took part in this event, which took place on an incredibly tough route which includes an elevation of more than a kilometre over the distance. In the women’s event, with vertical ascent of 1000m, National Mountain Running Champion 2022, Rachel Borg (Pembroke) long distance runner Carmen Hili (St. Patrick’s AC) secured the 40th and 41st positions respectively.
The toughest feat belonged to Ryan Farrugia who competed in a long 47km trail race, placing 33rd with a good time of 4h 48’, finishing ahead of experienced athletes from Spain, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Ireland.
More than 280 athletes from 24 nations took part in these Championships.
The Maltese delegation was headed by Gerald Grech and was supported by Malta Mountain and Trail Running, Athletics Malta and Visit Malta.