News Thanet Roadrunners Tackle the Malta Marathon Thanet Roadrunners Tackle the Malta Marathon

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Report by Ian Lockyer
2015-03-02 19:05:47

Thanet Roadrunners Tackle the Malta Marathon

‘It started as a conversation round the pool at a Maltese wedding and ended up as a spring marathon.’  - Peter Gough, Thanet Roadrunner.

Three members of Thanet Roadrunners AC recenlty took part in the Malta Marathon on 22nd February. Chris Brenchley, Steve Forshaw and Peter Gough, all took the plane from Thanet staying at the home of a member of the local Maltese running club which was beneficial as he gave the Thanet members  lots of advice about the race including ‘the incredibly useful beware of the downhill at mile 22 – which has ruined many a runner’.

Peter Gough, tells us their story 

'Day One 
Day One was spent sightseeing around the capital Valletta learning the history of the island, eating ice cream, finding fossils, drinking coffee and eating cake followed by queuing up for our race numbers.  One of the main interests in doing the race was to run in an international field so joining the queue behind a group of Maidstone Harriers was a bit of a surprise!! – although in front of them was a guy who had completed 1,044 marathons which made us all feel a little in awe.

Day Two
Surely the best idea would be to laze around the Villa eating carbs and hydrating.  Well you’d think that but no. The day was mostly spent playing football in the hall which got quite competitive but at least there were large helpings of pasta in the evening.

Marathon Day
With the start being at 07:30 it meant getting up at 04:00 and trying to force as much porridge down as possible. Richard, our host, told us not to worry about a taxi – he’d get up to drive us to the meet up point which couldn’t have been handier.  

So onto the buses in Sliema in the dark for the journey to the start and watching the sunrise on the way – as Chris said it was quite a surreal experience.  The start zone was the historic 6000 year old city of Mdina – once residence of St Paul now of around 700 runners most of whom were stretching and warming up (with the exception of  the TRACCIES who were sitting on a bench enjoying the scenery and beards (in club joke!)).

The 07:30 start soon came round and we were off.  The last I saw of Chris he was streaking into the  distance about 100 metres in going at around 07:00 minute miles.  Steve and I settled into what we thought was around 09:00 minute miling but forgot that the race was virtually all downhill so ended up running significantly faster.  For the first half of the race we wandered around the central areas of the island visiting the national stadium twice and taking in the stunning views.  The two slightly annoying hills came and went with us passing lots of runners  and the race was literally downhill all the way from there.

At the half way mark Steve and I split and I sped up slightly just as the rain set in.  Rain in Malta – whoever heard of that! Actually it only lasted 20 minutes or so and was fairly pleasant so we got lucky again.  As half way came and went the rest of the course headed to the north coast and joined up with the half marathon and walkathon. This gave some of the marathon runners (myself included) a massive boost as it meant I was constantly overtaking people through the second half which was psychologically important despite knowing it wasn’t really as they were walkers. 

The bands on the side of the roads altered from brass bands to current music and various songs I hadn’t heard of followed me round to the steep downhill at mile 22.  I’d been wary of this for several miles and heard lots of runners going down it shouting warnings in Italian to take it easy.  I ignored them and went down way too quickly! The final few miles of the course followed the harbour of Sliema in the sunshine and to the sound of cheering crowds the finish loomed into sight offering by far the best medal i’ve got (with the obvious exceptions of all the Thanet ones).  Steve followed along to give the 3 runners finishing times of:

34) Chris Brenchley 03:05:54 (PB)
287) Peter Gough 03:52:34 (PB)
461) Steve Forshaw 04:19:26

The winning time was 02:19:28 – only a second quicker than second place!

So then it was back to the Villa with another lift from our host who had come to watch (he should have been running but had some sort of foot injury) and into the ice cold pool to help our tired muscles.  Only Chris managed more than 30 seconds of this which was hugely impressive.  After packing up it was on to the airport and home via an unfortunate two hour delay but that couldn’t dampen our spirits after a fantastic few days away and plans for a possible Italian adventure next year.

Overall it was a fantastically organised race that I would recommend to any other runners who fancy trying a race abroad.  There was a whole lot of support and the local scout troops marshalled very well.  There were enough bands to hear music most of the way round.'  

On behalf of everyone at the club, well done Peter, Steve & Chris!

 

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