The Teamsport Gozo Half Marathon event took place on the Mediterranean island of Gozo, next to Malta and just south of Italy. Everybody we met there spoke English so it was an extremely easy place to travel around, and in the spring when weather in northern Europe is changeable the conditions on Gozo were sunny and hovering around 20C, which we think is perfect for running.

There are no flights to Gozo, you have to fly to the nearby island of Malta and then catch a bus/taxi and ferry. We flew there on Air Malta direct from London Gatwick. Air Malta fly to 25 scheduled destinations in Europe, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean and offers an additional 150 destinations through code share agreements with quality airlines. For more info check out – https://www.airmalta.com/ 

Nita from our team took on the 10km race and Dave took on the half marathon.

Before we go into our 7 point review, here’s a short film showing the course. For a fuller account of our time on Gozo and many more photos, see the September issue of our magazine and our “A Week in Gozo” article.

1 Pre-event info
The event directors were active on social media keeping all runners informed of various details and frequent emails were sent with full instructions of where to be, when, and what we could expect from the course. English is the language of communication used so it was easy for us to understand everything and make arrangements.

We had our transport and hotel arranged for our stay on Gozo via the Malta Tourism Authority, their website has lots of links to all the services you might need, including transfers from Malta airport to Gozo – https://www.visitmalta.com/en/home

The race expo was held at the Ggantija Temples complex. These temples are older than the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge, what a place to have an expo! Note, this is not an expo where you can buy running gels or kit. But you can pick up your race number and t-shirt and view one of the world’s most important historical buildings at the same time, which is a unique race-cation experience!

The view from the temples is pretty special as well and got us excited for the next day’s racing when we’d be running through this beautiful landscape.

Outside the temple complex there were 2 kids races going on. If you’re travelling with the family, you might want to consider these for your young ones. All details are on the website – https://www.gozomarathon.org/

2 Event location (parking, facilities/washrooms)
The main square of the village of Xaghra hosts the race HQ. It’s flanked by beige limestone buildings and an impressive church.

We got a lift there arranged by Malta Tourism, the driver could drop us and pick us up about 10 minutes walk from the square. It was about 20 minute drive from our hotel, Ta Cenc. If you’re driving yourself you might want to park a little way away from the village centre as the main roads will be closed for the duration of the event and if you park in the centre, once you’re there, you might have trouble getting out until late in the afternoon.

There was a building in which we could leave our bags, use washrooms, get changed and ask the race officials any last minute questions. Note that since there is zero crime on Gozo the bags are simply left in the corner of a room where people warm up, so don’t take anything with you to the race that you don’t mind leaving in such circumstances whilst you run.

3 Aid Stations (snacks and water/fuel)
There were several water stations en route but for those who want to use gels or special fuel you will want to take these yourself. At the finish line we got a sports drink and a banana, and there’s also several bars and cafes in the square which runners made good use of.

4 General atmosphere of the Event HQ
The event staff and volunteers was very friendly to us, answering every question we had on race day and before, and there were a surprising amount of overseas runners there with large groups from many British clubs so the pre-race warm up had a familiar feel/soundtrack to it.

Spectators can travel to various points of the course to cheer runners on but many roads will be closed so we’d advise them to stay put in Xaghra Square, enjoy the surroundings (the cafes are great!) and stand around the finish line to welcome friends or family home. There’s a great atmosphere on the home straight, the red carpet leads runners to the finish line and crowds line flank either side of it making a tremendous noise.

5 Course (length, technicality, scenery)
As the photo below shows, the route is far from flat! You can expect some lung busting hills in both the half marathon and 10km distance.

The route is all on well made roads, most of which are closed to traffic. If you’d like to see the actual routes of each race there are several maps of each on the website, including interactive maps that show locations of aid stations, marshals, cheer points, etc.

The race starts with a long downhill which offers runners a terrific view of the distant Mediterranean. We were to see the sea many times during the following kms.

We passed numerous villages squares – where support was vocal from locals who had settled in to watch the race pass as they breakfasted on fine looking pastries – and churches, like this one.

The final 2km is tough, a gentle slope at first then a set of severe switchbacks which a drumming band pulled us up and then we were into the final 500 metres which is a finishing straight we’d want to run again and again. The light bounced off of those limestone buildings, the loudspeaker music welcomed us and a red carpet funneled us into the finish line area. Fantastic.

6 Race kit, medals and awards
The race medals portrayed a windmill that stands in the village of Xaghra, where the race starts and ends.

There were plenty of awards including top 3 and for all age categories, which were each split into male and female. Trophies were large and presented on a stage by the local priest!

7 Post-event info (photography, films)
Photographs were free to download and were offered within a week of the event. Coverage was great, we got about 7 or 8 each from different points on the course.

We absolutely loved our race experience at the Gozo Half Marathon. The island is a dream destination, very peaceful, friendly and beautiful, a real gem of the Mediterranean.

To discover more about the Teamsport Gozo Half Marathon see their website
https://www.gozomarathon.org/