If you’re all about pushing your body to the absolute limits, then you’re not new to workouts and marathons. You might’ve even participated in a triathlon or two. But if you really want to take things up a notch, an insane challenge in the form of Malta’s only ultramarathon is coming to the island this May.
The Xterra Gozo Ultra Trail (previously known as the Hellfire Gozo Ultra, the most badass name on the planet) is a unique race that actually has two events. As the name implies, the sister island of Gozo plays centre stage during the gruelling challenge. The more intensive version of the race takes competitors (who can choose to either run or cycle) around the entire edge of the island for a 50 kilometre race.
Oh no, that’s not a typo.
Spanning over nearly double the entire length of Malta, the Xterra Gozo Trail (on the 5th of May) is definitely the stuff of #MarathonGoals. It also brings with it a total climb of 1,500 metres, which is around 500 storeys.
But it’s not all sweat and tears. The ultramarathon brings with it some of the best views this side of the Mediterranean.
Gozo’s stunning cliff edges, mystical valleys, seaside salt pans, rocky terrain and amazing sandy beaches all feature heavily in the trail, which features a total of four rest stops throughout the entire route. The ending, aptly, is Għajnsielem, very close to the Mġarr harbour ferry terminal.
This year, organisers Hellfire Events have teamed up with Xterra International, which is why the gruelling trail has undergone a rebranding for 2018. “The majority of the participants are local and we also get a fair share of international runners,” organiser Nathan Farrugia told Lovin Malta. “This year, we’re expecting even more international participants since we’ve partnered up with Xterra’s international franchise.”
If 50 kilometres sounds a little too daunting, the race also features a second event with a shorter 21 kilometres. The route for this particular race covers the last part of the full distance, starting near Għasri.
“The course is a gorgeous circumnavigation of the island,” Nathan told Lovin Malta. “Participants will get to experience all the breathtaking scenery the Mediterranean has to offer in one race!”
Apart from two particularly steep parts, the race has an undulating gradient which racers will definitely welcome. It requires semi-sufficiency from the participants, who will need to carry water (at least 500ml) and some food. The organisers also ask racers to carry a charged mobile phone with credit and safety numbers on speed dial. As for the rest, they recommend things like a whistle, headgear and some bars or gels.
If you love the idea of a challenging marathon with beautiful views but are not too into the competitive side of things, it’s also possible to take part in a non-competitive 50 kilometre mountain bike event. Bikers may need to carry their bikes over some parts that are too awkward to cycle through, so don’t worry; the challenge will still be very present for this event.
The Xterra Gozo Ultra Trail isn’t even the only event planned. Before the 50km killer race, a cross triathlon / sprint / relay combo will be going down in the north of Malta on the 15th of April. Last year’s edition provided competitors with all the thrills you’d expect from a challenge of this calibre.
On the eve of the triathlon, a 5.5 kilometre fun run will also be organised so that people can get a better feel for course.
“Awesome, tough, but totally enjoyable,” previous competitor Mark Hamersma perfectly summarised his 2017 experience
Anyone wishing to apply or get more information on the Xterra Gozo Ultra Trail and other events can check out the official website right here.