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Watch: Jemima Farley defies wet conditions to retain Malta Marathon title in record time

Jemima Farley on her way to victory in the Malta Marathon. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Morocco’s Hrioued wins men’s race ahead of Andrew Grech

Jemima Farley defied the tough weather conditions to set a new course record at the 2024 LifeStar Malta Marathon on her way to a second successive victory on Sunday.

The men’s race was dominated by Moroccan runner Alaa Hrioued who strolled to victory ahead of Maltese duo Andrew Grech, who took second place ahead of Matthew Xuereb.

Over 2,800 athletes were at the starting line for the 39th edition of the Malta Marathon which included not only the full marathon but also the half marathon, on the 21km distance, and the walkathon.

Participants on Sunday had to face some very difficult conditions with incessant rain for most of the race as well as windy conditions which made their efforts even more arduous.

One thought that with such weather conditions, it would be highly unlikely for any athlete to break any of the records in both the full and half marathon.

But Farley had a completely different opinion as the Briton achieved the performance of the day with a stunning run.

Jemima Farley gives her first thoughts after winning the Malta Marathon in a record time. Interview: Kurt Aquilina. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Farley had registered for this year’s race as the defending champion and had also set a new course record of 2:36.31 on her way to victory 12 months ago.

However, the Malta-based runner, who is registered with the Ladies Running Club, defied the odds when she powered her way to victory in a new record time of the race when crossing the finish line in 2:35:41.

“I am very grateful to have finished the race as conditions were very difficult but I am very happy with my display and I enjoyed it,” Farley said.

“It was really wet, there were a lot of puddles, there was a lot of jumping around puddles so it’s good that I enjoy trail running as it came in very handy. But it’s not cold so I just enjoyed running.”

Looking forward to the rest of the season, Farley said that her next major goal was the London Marathon.

“It’s a good start of the season, hopefully, I will be running the London Marathon in a couple of months and will see how it goes.”

Latvian runner Jelena Abele finished a distant second when crossing the finishing tape in two hours 48 minutes and 26 seconds.

The female podium was completed by Czech Republic runner Zuzana Picmanova at 2:53.35.

In the men’s race, Moroccan duo Lhoussaine Oukrid and Alaa Hrioued took little time to move clear of the main group in the full marathon.

Morocco’s Alaa Hrioued secures victory in the men’s full marathon. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Hrioued, who boasts Marathon victories in Albi (2018), Rennes (2021), and Deuville (2022), made his intentions clear around the 10km run when he sped clear of his fellow compatriot to go on a solitary run.

The Moroccan runner continued with a steady pace to stroll to victory with a time of two hours 18 minutes and 54 seconds.

His time was over five minutes slower than the marathon record set by fellow countryman Redouan Nouri when he completed the distance in 2:13.18.

Oukrid was forced to pull out of the race midway through but Malta’s Andrew Grech produced a very strong performance to finish second overall with a time of two hours 34 minutes and 40 seconds.

Andrew Grech reacts after placing second overall in the Malta Marathon. Interview: Kurt Aquilina. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

“I have been running for 24 years but for me, today’s race was the toughest I have ever competed in,” the Evolve Endurance Club runner said.

“I ran the race from the starting line to the finish all alone. The wind was not too bad but the amount of water that we found throughout the race course made it a great challenge for us. To run 42.2km is already a big test but in these conditions made our challenge even tougher.

“As a time, my target I wanted a faster time, but with these conditions, you cannot look at a set time and I just focused on finishing as the first Maltese home. On a personal level, this is the fifth time that I placed first among local runners and the fourth time I got the runners-up spot.

“The Malta Marathon always ranks high on my agenda during the season, and it’s a race I always try and take part in.”

Malta’s Matthew Xuereb completed the podium when he completed the distance in 2:35.05.

Matthew Willis on his way to victory in the Malta Half Marathon. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Half marathon

British runner Matthew Willis defied the weather conditions to put on a dominant display in the half marathon to secure victory in a very strong time of one hour three minutes and 38 seconds.

Willis’ time was just over a minute slower than the race record set by fellow Briton Mark Hudspith who had completed the 21km course in 1:02.50.

Charlton Debono reacts after placing as first Maltese in the Half Marathon. Interview: Kurt Aquilina. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Oisin Martyn, of Ireland, took second place in 1:06.58 while Germany’s Simon Bong completed the top-three line-up in 1:07.04.

Charlton Debono, of Gozo Athletix AC, was the first Maltese runner home when finished the race in 1:09.59.

“The conditions were quite tough,” Debono said.

“I have been running 12 years and I never had such conditions, running continuously under the rain. I am very pleased to be able to finish as the first Maltese home, obviously, I wanted a better time but given the conditions, it was difficult to do better.

“The overall level of the race was very high and to finish fifth in such a strong field is a huge positive. These races for me are a challenge and to produce such performance is a major boost for me ahead of my future races this season.”

The women’s title was won by Moroccan runner Sanaa Achabar who completed her solitary run in a time of 1:17.38.

Rosalie Borg managed to finish second overall with a time of one hour 23 minutes and 15 seconds with Greek runner Margarita Ntina completing the podium in 1:26.08.

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