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Joseph Camilleri completes 24 Hour Solo Run for charity

Joseph Camilleri running the 24-hour ultra marathon in Canada. Photo: Lois DeEll

70-year-old Maltese-Canadian athlete Joseph Camilleri has set a new milestone after completing the One Track Mind 24 Hour Solo Run.

The run, which is a basis for fundraising towards the Help Fill a Dream Foundation which helps terminally ill children fulfill their dreams, was one in which Camilleri set a new distance record of 100km of running in one day.

Born and raised in Hamrun, Camilleri has been running competitively since 1963 until immigrating to the UK in 1969 and eventually Canada a few years later in 1972 to pursue a photography career.

Joseph Camilleri (No. 60) racing during the National School Sports day back in 1966, representing St. Albert the Great College.

Ten years ago, at age 60, Camileri returned to the track and began running the shorter distances until three years ago, he stepped up the distance for the Vancouver Marathon.

He had placed first in his category back then, with a time of 3:30:45, and this pushed him towards doing more marathons both in 2018 and 2019.

Because most races around the world were cancelled due to covid-19, a 50K Ultra Marathon organised by his running club in October seemed likely to be Camilleri’s challenge for the year.

“Although I had never done a 50K Ultra Marathon, I jumped to the opportunity of racing in these uncertain times,” Camilleri told the Sunday Times of Malta.

“Quite to my surprise, I did very well in this ultra distance which was beyond my normal comfort zone, and finished in 4:27:59 and also won the Championship for my age group.”

However, the One Track Mind 24 Hour Solo Run this month has provided Camilleri with another opportunity to challenge himself on the track.

“I was apprehensive (about the race) as I had never attempted to run this long but since this was a fundraising event, I figured it would also be a good opportunity to fundraise for this cause,” he said.

“The event went better than expected as I managed to run for approximately 100km with no walk breaks and after a few hours of sleep, I finished the challenge by walking another eight kilometres – at this point, I could not run at all as my whole lower body was practically shuddered.

“To date, this has been my ultimate challenge and I’m hoping that in 2021, we are back to some kind of normalcy as I am already booked for the Chicago Marathon and I am also hoping to participate in the World Masters Championships to be held in the summer in Finland.”

Asked about what he aims to influence by his efforts, Camilleri said that one word of advice to anyone thinking of doing something to improve their health and maintain a healthy lifestyle would be to “pick exercise – whether it’s running or some other athletic discipline”.

“This will motivate you to practice consuming a healthy and clean diet devoid of fast junk food, and remember it’s never too late to start or restart your journey no matter what age you are,” Camilleri said.

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