Held in weather conditions perfect for the sport of triathlon, the first race of this year’s edition of the annual triathlon series organised by Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club, this year sponsored by Festina Watches (Malta) and The Cyclist of San Gwann, produced some brilliant results by the participating triathletes, which augurs well for the rest of the season. Under 25 European Champion Keith Galea (Birkirkara St. Joseph) and national champion Danica Bonello Spiteri (St. Patrick’s), continued to turn on the superb performances they have been showing throughout the year, both in Malta and on foreign soil.
In the males’ race, Galea had the fastest 750-metre swim reaching transition area in 11 minutes 35 seconds, followed by team-mate David Agius Lia (11:41) and Graham Borg (11:49). However, it was during the 20-kilometre bike segment of the race that things started to take shape, as Mellieha AC triathlete Fabio Spiteri who had the fastest cycle (28:24), had to take on the Birkirkara St. Joseph trio of Keith Galea (29:32), Steve Chetcuti (29:14) and Rudolph Agius (28:48). The latter however could not keep the tempo in the final 5-kilometre run. Galea wrapped the race in this segment, running the distance in 17 minutes 46 seconds, and the battle for second place was won by Galea’s team-mate, Steve Chetcuti who ran faster than Spiteri, to make up for the advantage the latter had in the cycle. Galea finished the race in 59 minutes 39 seconds and Chetcuti’s time was one hour 30 seconds, 9 seconds faster than Fabio Spiteri.
National champion Danica Bonello Spiteri (St. Patrick’s AC) had to be at her very best to overcome the spritely challenge of Birkirkara St. Joseph’s Michelle Vella Wood. It was only in the final 5-kilometre run that the champion took the lead, after having lost it to the Saints’ triathlete in the bike segment. Bonello Spiteri swam the 750 metres in 11 minutes 47 seconds, followed by Mellieha AC triathlete Margaret Seguna (12:19) and Hannah Pace (12:16). Vella Wood turned on the power in the 20-kilometre cycle, taking the lead in the process. She covered the distance in 31 minutes 59 seconds to the champion’s 33 minutes 20 seconds. At this stage Johanna Calleja (Birkirkara St. Joseph) was in third place with a 34 minutes 39 seconds cycle. Bonello Spiteri’s 20 minutes 26 seconds 5-kilometre run could not be matched by Vella Wood who ran the distance in 21 minutes 2 seconds. Bonello Spiteri won the race in one hour, six minutes 18 seconds. Vella Wood was second in one hour, six minutes 36 seconds. Margaret Seguna finished third in one hour, 10 minutes, seven seconds.
The relay team competition was won by Kyle Buhagiar (swim), David Galea (bike) and Johann Galea (run) in a time of 58 minutes 27 seconds. Ten relay teams took part in this race.
During this race Birkirkara St. Joseph launched the main sponsors of this series, Festina Watches (Malta) and The Cyclist of San Gwann.
The next race in Birkirkara St. Joseph series will be held on the 15 July starting at 7:00 a.m.
In the meantime the Malta Triathlon Association is gearing up for the forthcoming Triathlon Championships of the Small States of Europe, which is held annually. Malta’s participation in the past has reaped excellent results. The selection of the Maltese contingent will be based on the results achieved in Sunday’s forthcoming selection race which will take place in Xemxija Bay.
‘Although the main focus of this event is the selection of the National Team, this event is an excellent opportunity for triathletes to take part in a different location, since we are moving from Salina Bay to Xemxija Bay’ said Cyprian Dalli, President of the Malta Triathlon Association. ‘We are very pleased with the response received from aspiring triathletes who have chosen to take part in the race by joining up in a relay team’.
Photo Captions: Danica Bonello Spiteri, St. Patrick’s AC, coming in first female