A hospitality consultant and a CEO will be pounding the dusty trails across Malta and Gozo on the 25th July, covering 190 km in 35 hours to help fund access to education for young refugees.
Claudio Camilleri, 43, and Patrick Tabone, 48, will make the first known attempt to run around the islands’ coastlines in the summer heat to raise €15,000 for JRS and Kopin to equip young migrants with the skills, education and training to be employable.
This feat, 1Run 1Race, was born from COVID-19 pandemic’s ability to disrupt the world’s plans, including those made by Camilleri and Tabone to attempt the Ultra Eiger Trail Alps in Switzerland.
Camilleri said: “We wanted to put all the training we had clocked to good use, so during one of our long runs we came up with a challenging ultra trail run we could do here to serve as a catalyst to raise awareness and funds for a cause we both had at heart.”
Tabone adds: “We know that a lot of migrant kids and young people here in Malta don’t always have access to the books, technology and other educational tools that our own kids take for granted, so this is our little attempt at addressing that imbalance.”
JRS and Kopin run a specifically designed Education Support Programme (ESP) offering a number of packages to enable young migrants to access or continue pursuing their education, and the money raised will go towards tuition, tablets, laptops, books, and examination fees, among others.
The run will start at 3.45 am from Sliema’s Independence Gardens on July 25 where Camilleri and Tabone will cover an extreme distance that is longer than either runner has ever attempted, and includes over 4.5 km vertical elevation — the equivalent of climbing over 1,700 flights of steps.
Fuelled by fruit, marmite sandwiches, rice balls, a few sweet black coffees and several litres of water, the athletes will be backed by four support teams as they cover 150km in Malta and 40 km in Gozo, ending back at Independence Gardens 35 hours later on the 26th July.
The two feel physically prepared for the challenge, but the real possibilities of overheating, exhaustion, dehydration, not being able to take in enough food, cramps, or injuries still keep popping up in their head, playing mental games to challenge their endurance.
“Mike Tyson said: ‘Everyone’s got a plan till they get punched in the mouth.’ We’ve trained and we’ve planned, but at some point in the run we will hit rock bottom. It might be in the middle of the night, when we’ve been running for 24 hours straight and we’re faced with an almost vertical climb to the top of Dingli Cliffs and another 70kms to go after that…At times like that you have stop thinking and just concentrate on the next step,” Tabone said.
If they could communicate with the gods, the ideal climate Camilleri and Tabone would ask for are a constant 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, with a light breeze throughout the run, some light rain every eight hours, no humidity, and the sun shining in the last moments as we cross the finish line.
But even Zeus, the god of weather, may struggle to acquiesce to their demands and it is highly likely the forecast will be well past 30 degrees Celsius.
However, the support of their loved ones, their sponsors and the youngsters who will benefit from this run has kept them both motivated.
“The beneficiaries are the heroes of this initiative. These people have stamina and motivation that goes beyond the norm. They are ultra runners of life and this initiative is entirely dedicated to them because they deserve access to education to make sure they have the best chance to shape their future,” Camilleri said.