Running races do not get much harder than the World Mountain and Trail championships and Maltese athletes fared well among most of the world’s best 1,400 athletes in the stunning backdrop of Stubai, Innsbruck in Austria.
Team Malta performed admirably well in the Alps, placing 25th overall at the World Championships beating larger and mountainous nations in the process in an up/down 15km race with over 1,000m of ascent.
The Maltese male trio included Malta’s Mountain running champion Luke Micallef (Pembroke Athleta), fresh from a GSSE bronze medal, who placed an impressive 55th among top world-class runners, Simon Spiteri (St Patrick’s – 72nd) and Jake Fenech (Libertas – 110th).
Spiteri’s feat was remarkable considering that just a couple of days earlier he was also at the starting line for the 7.1km vertical race, producing a phenomenal uphill sprint finish securing 71st place, beating in the process athletes from 27 countries, well-established in mountain and trail running countries like USA, Portugal, Norway, South Africa, Australia and Belgium.
Mark Pace (St Patrick’s AC) registered a very solid performance on his debut in this international event, placing 110th.
Jake Fenech (Libertas Malta) came in 113rd place.
In the women’s Classic Vertical 7.1km race +1000m, Malta’s Mountain Running champion for 2023, Rachel Borg (Pembroke), ran a strong race securing 83rd place while distance runner Giselle Camilleri (St Patrick’s AC), returning to racing after a nine-year absence, made a comeback with a solid performance, securing 89th place.
Camilleri beat athletes from USA, Australia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Borg was again in action in the women’s 15km up/down race placing 81st.
Ryan Farrugia, Malta’s top ultra trail runner, was competing in very challenging and long 45k trail race with over 3000m elevation and came in 112nd of 172 athletes with a very good time of five hours 47 minutes, beating top trail running athletes from 25 countries, including Japan, Australia, Greece and Slovakia amongst others.
Malta’s participation at this international event was supported by Malta Mountain and Trail Running, which is affiliated with Athletics Malta. The delegation was accompanied by Team Leader Gerald Grech and coach Ivan Rozhnov.
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