On Sunday 23rd February 4 A&T road runners ran either the Malta marathon or half marathon. Some of us were part of Davos tours, which Dave Pearson of Burnden had kindly organised, this included a number of people from Burnden, Wesham and Horwich running clubs. Pre-race prep included taking in the sights of Malta in the days leading upto the race and supping a pints of cisk, which was the local lager, but not too many as we did have a race to run.
Both races started in Mdina and finished down at the harbour of Sliema which is where we were staying. To get to the race start coaches were put on from Sliema. I remember thinking on the bus ride up this seems a long way! The weather was cool which made it a little chilly hanging around at the start because the buses dropped us there over an hour before the start. However it did warm up as the morning progressed but didn't become too hot for us whilst running.
Our bus arrived at the start point just before the marathon start which was 8am. From what I have been told the first half of the marathon was through dull industrial estates and undulating before it met up with the half marathon route which was mainly downhill. A&T had 2 runners start the marathon being Malc "Marathon Mon" Collins and Barry Allman. Malc who has been struggling with injury, illness and all manner of things which curtailed training leading upto the race finished just outside 4 hours with 4.00.09. This was still a damn good effort considering if not a little disappointing for himself to not dip under 4 hours. What happened to Barry?
In the half marathon we also had 2 runners which included myself and Christine Farnworth. My aim was just to get round seeing I'd not run this far since my comeback and it was my first race in an A&T vest for almost a year. The atmosphere around the course was good with bands playing an assortment of music every few kilometres along with the locals also cheering you on. Near the finish the road got very narrow as thousands of people cheered on the runners which created a rather narrow funnel in places. I managed to cross the line feeling pretty fresh in 2.06.13. Christine had a good race considering her training had also also been curtailed through injury and even managed to smash her PB crossing the line in 2.10.48. Well done Christine.
After the rugby scrum to try and find my kit bag I had left in Mdina, which the organisers had brought down to the finish, I made my way back to the hotel for a shower. On my way back I walked through the Black Gold bar, a bar we frequented a lot during the trip, and there was Barry looking fresh with a pint of cisk on the table. I was confused. Hang on you can't have finished yet? What happened? Unfortunately Barry had to pull out of the marathon after 3k with a knee problem. He'd managed to thumb a lift back with the kit bag people. I asked if he'd kept his garmin running.
All in all I enjoyed the race, the atmosphere, in fact the whole trip and would certainly do it again. If you're on top form the half marathon was definitely a PB course. I did have a couple of gripes though one being the walkathon people got in the way for the first few kilometres. Yes there was a walking race! Also the price of the race was a bit expensive, especially if you entered later on, and you didn't get a technical tshirt. For finishing the race you was given a goody bag that included a standard tshirt and a chunky medal. We then enjoyed the rest of the week drinking cisk and taking in the sights of Malta on various trips.