For every triathlete who venture into long-distance triathlon, there is one race above all the others where one aspires to arrive and which will be forever marked as the pinnacle in one’s sporting career : the Ironman World Championships held in Kona, Hawaii every year in October on the standard Ironman distance of 3.8KM swim, 180KM cycle and 42.2KM run. For Maltese triathletes, this holy grail of long-distance triathlon was always elusive, until Dermot Galea managed to qualify in 2013 and then followed by David Galea who got his ticket for Kona in 2016.
2018 was again a year where the Maltese flag hung proudly at the World Championships, this year carried by the Birkirkara St. Joseph SC’s athlete, Rudolph Agius. Agius entered the triathlon community almost by mistake a decade ago, when he started attending local triathlon races to support members of his family and take photographs of the local athletes. Soon enough he got the triathlon addiction and he started to compete locally where he instantly set himself as one of Maltese’s topmost triathletes on all the distances. However, his predilection for endurance races was immediately clear as he worked his way to become the Malta National Long-Distance Triathlon Champion in both 2016 and 2017.
Agius also started to venture into international events as well as he took part in four Ironman 70.3 races (which are raced on half the distances) and also seven full Iron-distance races. Last year, in 2017, he qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships which were held in Australia. This success continued to fuel his passion and determination and this year he focused on the Ironman distance and his excellent performance in the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt finally earned him the coveted ticket for Kona.
The island of Hawaii is notorious for its harsh meteorological conditions and this year was no exception. This year, very strong winds and heavy rains hit the island in the week before the race, but Agius was determined to outplay the odds and finish the race to become just the third Maltese to conquer Kona. Agius got out of the swim after 1 hour, 3 minutes and 50 seconds, while he covered the cycling segment of 180KM in a time of 5 hours, 6 minutes and 24 seconds. In the marathon run, Agius had to endure fatigue and he finished it in a time of 4 hours, 26 minutes and 21 seconds to conclude the race in a total time of 10 hours, 45 minutes and 58 seconds.
Reached immediately after the race, Agius stated that ‘I feel I had a good race and I am very happy with my result. I was very satisfied with the swim and also with the bike segment where I felt strong throughout. The weather conditions were very challenging and this had its toil on me especially in the run on a hilly route and with very humidity of more than 75%. I had to slow down my pace as otherwise I might have compromised finishing the race, especially in the last 10KM where I had to endure loads of cramps and muscle fatigue. My plan of finishing the marathon in three and a half hours had to change and I settled for a slower paces which finally saw me finishing this dream of a race. I am extremely happy to have had this chance as it was the best racing experience ever to be part of Kona and its electrifying atmosphere and to be amongst the top triathletes in the world.
This experience was made possible for me with the support of my family and friends and my sponsors Attard Bros, Pfanner Malta, Big Mat Malta, Garmin Malta and The Cyclist. I am also extremely grateful to the support by SportMalta, my triathlon club Birkirkara St. Joseph and the Malta Triathlon Federation’.
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