Pembroke – Swieqi Races
20th Anniversary – A Successful Event – Its History
On the local scene and among the longer distanced, non-stadia competition race events, the 10km race in and around the vibrant young towns of Swieqi and Pembroke is perhaps the most challenging test of endurance any athlete can get. This stems from the fact that both towns are situated on a south east to east slope slanting towards the Mediterranean Sea.
The Swieqi Township, lying further inland and the bigger of the two, if not in area at least in terms of population, presents the participant with a course looping around modern buildings in a much sought after residential area that eventually merges with the sprawling open-spaced township of Pembroke, the course rising from sea level alongside the picturesque St George’s Bay towards the hills and valleys above, dipping and then rising again in the final stages, towards the Pembroke Athleta Club House, on Tunis Road. From the onset, the dedicated bunch of men and women organising this annual challenge had in mind to make the race a flagship that united its members into an ownership that signalled the presence of the club, revived from ashes, like the mythical phoenix, from an older running outfit.
Being a rejuvenated outfit, mostly of young families with young children, it seemed also natural that events for youngsters would also feature in the programme. Little were they to realise at the time that in the course of the years, the Fun Run for these youngsters would out-shine the main event, which, while still being as popular as ever, would eventually surrender the spot-light to the hundreds of children flocking to take part, outnumbering the established athletes ten-to-one.
The course itself has seen diverse changes, for reasons on which the organisers had little sway, but come rain or shine, each athlete worth his salt, whether local or foreign – and winners from abroad have included British, Italian and Russian nationals – the feelings of elation always dominated the features of the many athletes who made it through the finish gantry and on occasion served the purpose to prepare themselves to eventually represent Malta.