Ed: As part of her build-up to the Comrades 56+ miles at the end of May, Maria Hamilton is beginning to accumulate marathons like Anna Finn but only for a few months!
Malta Time 4:29:20 (chip), Position 263/344, Category 5/8 FV40-44
Very pleased with this as a training run. Went out to Malta again this year with the Running Crazy crowd. This year I was prepared for some of the quirks of the Malta marathon – primarily the one where at the start there are gazillions of water & Powerade tables but then the marathoners (who start at 8) get sent to run round a bit of a random loop twice to make up the distance and by the time they’re back on the main road down to Sliema, the half marathoners (of whom there are four times as many) have all thundered past and the water etc is ALL GONE. But I had my own bottle, hahaha.
The Saturday had been fine in the morning and then (of course, when we’d decided to go sightseeing) it TIPPED it down. All over the island skinny people in jeans, cagoules and running shoes, refugees from the winters of northern Europe, huddled together in bus stops mentally going through the tiny wisps of warm-weather running clothing that they’d packed for the race and weeping with fear.
But Sunday was fine. The only water – I say “only” … – was underfoot. Mostly the odd puddle but there was a spectacular flood which took up the whole of a road for a hundred yards, and yes, this was a part of the course the marathoners had to do at least twice. At my end, most of us just hopped up onto a broad low wall and trundled along there until the water gave out. Apparently the half marathoners, being more numerous, had to queue … 🙂 … though one brave man ploughed straight through the torrent, to great applause!
The course is net downhill but that encompasses quite a few small rises, both in the make-distance loops and (just when you don’t want ’em) in the last few miles heading down to sea level. Flyovers!
Again, though, I remembered these from last year (when I had been coaxing a veteran Polish runner with a duff ankle to run between alternate traffic cones) and toddled merrily up them, issuing encouraging, but hopefully not too smug, cries of “Ganbatte!” to the succession of young Japanese marathoners who had gone out too fast and were now reduced to walking, past the Libyan embassy (covered by a crowd of happy Maltese police on overtime).
I’d been doing 9 mins run 1 min walk mainly (this is all prep. for Comrades where 99.9% of people walk at some point) but dropped the walk breaks for the last half hour or so, partly because I was enjoying passing people and partly because I thought it would be nice to dip under 4:30 (which I did, with added aeroplane impressions).
All sorts of interesting people were around at the finish – one lady (Naomi Prasad, who Anna will know from the 100 marathon club) had just done her 100th and was now the youngest lady (I think?) to do so. Another chap had done Comrades: his advice? “Why not do the 10in10 a couple of weeks before?” ! Enquired if she’d heard how Anna was and heard that even she suffers from the odd niggle (but I’ll see her hopefully at the Grantham Canal Run this coming weekend, with any luck, back to full strength).
The old legs are a bit stiff but not too bad today – I made sure to dunk them in the hotel’s cold pool for a good stretch that afternoon. The worst aftereffect is, er, sunburn – after Saturday I packed an umbrella in with my kitbag but no suncream – WHOOPS.
In the airport on the way back we were lining up for checkin next to hundreds of Chinese evacuees queueing for the Beijing plane (or possible one of the two Shanghai planes that had also been laid on). We flew home gratefully to our country that hasn’t had a civil war for several hundred years…