The Gozo Half Marathon by Fr. Anton Refalo

If you mention this activity in Xaghra, it means that you are delving into a part of history, Since this is an activity that requires so many kilometers of running and that does not afford many ups and downs in its course, it is necessary that we go back to see how it all started.

The “Marathon” was created here (in Xaghra) by a number of young people who, since 1976, have been dreaming – naively not knowing where they want to go – full of energy, with a spirit of unity, as their motto – “together” – resonates, in the Xaghra Youth Circle.

True, a run that did not initially involve foreigners, but all of them: young people and adults, with those frequent evening appointments in the moonlight or in pitch darkness, descended back and forth from Marsalforn to Ramla, a breathtaking climb in itself. That was the beginning.

They had a great time in the eighties and more so in the summer, welcoming groups of young Maltese into the Youth Circle and sharing experiences with them.

They also had experiences with young Italians who for several years in the summer period joined us in Gozo: they were the ones who minted (in Rome) the bronze medals. An athlete across the Ggantija background – for the ‘Caccia al Tesoro‘ activity, which had the whole village captivated and which was everyone’s enthusiasm. Volleyball and basketball games were also introduced on the grounds of the Circle and the famous Youth Games in Victory Square which consisted of historical games that affected the village from prehistorical to modern times. Games built on the style of historical Italian folklore that they are so proud of.

Until a few years ago, it was also part of the village feast. Indeed it was a particular, unique attraction in Malta and used to attract hundreds of young people. They even arrived – the Italians – to create colors for the teams, all with their emblems and the name of the teams on shirts that were also made in Italy. Only the period costumes were missing. The four teams – the Sansuniti, the Gganti, the Sanvernini, and the Odissini were in constant fierce competition with each other so much so that they had even brought permission to make a horse race as part of the Games.

I could not leave this spirit of play out because it was really as strong as the Marathon.

All this that I have told – a few of the many – only reflects what I have been asked to write about today.

For me, who was responsible from the very beginning, I see after what I have narrated, the cultural and religious aspects that our young people embraced and on which they were formed. For me, always according to my beliefs, the religious, cultural, and sporting spirit are fundamental and inseparable aspects of the formation of a complete human being. Just ignore one of them and you’ll find yourself limping along in the other two.

This is how I saw our young people. I believed in them and lived on this adventure with them for 36 years.

We descend now to our reality.

Today that we are in the electronic age we can already see the results it is leaving on young people – despite the spirit of fantasy and creativity that youth knows how to create in man. How can young people rediscover the supreme values ​​that give them meaning and direction in life when they are isolated because perhaps they have been enslaved by an electronic object? Maybe they are living in a utopia. Therefore, running, organizing activities like these, and working together are ways of calibrating ourselves.

All things are possible if you believe.

Be convinced and convince others.