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Galea, Schembri Rodgers win national duathlon titles

Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club hosted its first commitment on the 2023 race calendar when it organised, under the auspices of the Malta Triathlon Federation, the National Standard Duathlon Champions in Fleur-de-Lys.

The duathlon consisted of an 8km (three loops) run, a 30km (12 loops) cycle and a 5km (two loops) run.

In the first segment of the duathlon, the 8km run, Keith Galea (picture), Josef Azzopardi and George Said took the lead, running neck to neck throughout the whole distance. 

Galea and Said entered the transition area together but it was there that Galea took off and set a comfortable gap ahead of the rest. 

Azzopardi and Said were next out but it was Azzopardi who kept chasing Galea until the end.  The bike leg set the pace and it was the more experienced cyclists who started switching places, whilst having to contend with the strong winds. 

With Galea in front, Azzopardi was chased by Steve Ritchie. The trio kept the lead as they proceeded to the final part of the race, the 5km run.

Galea, determined to clinch his seventh title, kept a composed yet determined pace to finish the race in 1:42:30. 

Azzopardi finished in second place with a time of 1:43:12 and Ritchie (1:45.00) in third.

The females’ category saw Krista Kuusijarvi lead the way throughout, keeping a steady gap ahead of Maya Schembri Rodgers.

Pursuing them in third place was Denise Cortis.

The three females kept these placings until the very end with Kuusijarvi finishing first in a time of 1:52:02 ahead of Schembri Rodgers (2:03:05) and Cortis (2:19:05).

Since the race was designated as the National Championships for Maltese athletes, the title went to Schembri Rodgers. This was Schembri Rodgers first duathlon title.

“The race was challenging in many fronts, due to the undulating nature of the course and the strong winds. Nevertheless, there was a show of determination by all participants. The club congratulates the winners and thanks all participants for being part of the race,” said Euchar Camilleri, Birkirkara SJ secretary general.

Trophies were presented to the overall and age group winners by club board member Joseph Farrugia.

The club thanked Transport Malta, Birkirkara Local Council and the Eastern Region Council for their support.

The next race is a cycling time trial on March 26 followed by a Sprint Triathlon, on April 2 on the Salina Coast Road.

A race for young athletes will also take place on the day.

Age Group Winners

Under 23: Julian James Asciak (Birkirkara SJ).

40-49: Liran Ben Ari (Agones SFC).

50-59: David Galea (Birkirkara SJ).

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