The expansion of Triathlon in Malta continues to increase steadily and this is in part also thanks of the attraction of Middle and Long Distance races have on the local triathletes. The so-called 'Ironman' races continue to grow in popularity and Malta might have of the largest ratio of long-distance triathletes per practicing athletes in Europe.
As the triathlon season starts to fire up steadily, local triathletes participate in various middle and long distance triathlon races all over Europe while some also venture even further.
On 1 May, a contingent of 9 members of the Malta Triathlon Federation, namely Kevin Zammit, Jean-Marc Camilleri, Niki Bilocca, Daniel Agius, Matthew Mirabelli, Stefan Borg, Josef Zarb, Donald Vella and Stephen Banavage took part in the Aix-de-Provence Ironman 70.3 race.
An Ironman 70.3 Triathlon consists of a swim of 1.9KMs, a cycling part of 90KMs and a half-marathon run of 21KM. Such gruelling race requires a tough physical and mental preparation and many hours of training in the three disciplines forming the sport of triathlon.
The race for the Maltese triathletes proved to be more demanding than anticipated since a cold spell which covered the Provence region resulted in water temperatures in the Lac Peyrolles to drop to 15 degrees C. For this reason, the Race Organisers decided to cancel the swimming section of the race for safety reasons. Notwithstanding, the race still proved to be hugely demanding since the athletes had to face strong winds and gust reaching 52km/hr in certain exposed areas. Once the cycling was completed, the final part of the race consists in a 3 laps around a 7KM circuit through the city of Aix, which proved to be very exciting for the athletes since crowds of support gathered to push the athletes in their last push towards the finish line.
All 9 members of the Triathlon Malta team completed the course and received the Finisher's Medal. The first of the Maltese triathletes to cross the Finish line was Matthew Mirabelli in a time of 4 hours and 27 minutes. Mirabelli also had the best bike split among tha Maltese triathletes covering the 90KM distance in 2 hours 50 minutes. Kevin Zammit put his successful running background to fruition by topping the Maltese contingent's run split when he covered the half-marathon distance in just under an hour and a half.
Meanwhile, the local triathletes will be treated to a local long-distance triathlon on Sunday 15 May in the Garmin Ocean Lava Malta 113K Triathlon which will be held at Baħar ic-Cagħaq and which has been sanctioned by the Malta Triathlon Federation as the National Long-Distance Triathlon Championship 2016.
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