The Malta marathon was great as I expected, but had a couple of tricks up its sleeve. Most north Euros are a bit down in the winter, and need a bit of sun and warmth, so why not do the Malta Marathon? The marathon is on a week end in February, and is only a few hours from certain lucky cities in northern Europe. It’s a good time for jaded runners from Britain, or wherever, to hop on a cheap plane and have a weekend in more clement weather. So it was a bit of a surprise to wake up at 6am on race day with the palm trees bending over backwards in a gale! The night before there had been a rain and wind storm! The night before there had also been a Maltese dinner party to the small hours, and the night before along trip to new friends in Northern Italy! I thought the marathon would be cancelled and was half relieved for my headache! No such luck, the jolly race organizer who had a lovely Scottish lilt to his voice, had us lined up and ready to go precisely on time. He kindly warned us of a couple of puddles on the route, and wished us luck, and sped us on our way. The route started at the ancient capitol of Malta’s M’dina, which is a world heritage site and gorgeous, and follows tarmac via a big loop, and then heads downhill to the opposite coast. You run under the battlements of the biggest fort in Malta before, running or jogging around two bays, full of boats and festive people. Its great, and the marathon is supposed to be a fast one, so if you are interested in getting a good time, go for it. There is a half marathon run at the same time, and a walkathon, these do not interfere with the faster runners, and might cheer up the slower ones. There are lots of local bands on the way, lots of great happy volunteers, and basically everything you might need to help you run the run. I recommend this event more than most, and I will try and go again. Thanks to the organizers, sponsors, volunteers and of course the keen runners, and walkers.
At the airport the next day, I met lots of runners who were very happy with their runs, and their short stay on the island. By hazard I bumped into the winner Moroccan Mohammed Hajji. He was walking around the airport dragging a huge winner’s cup, his slight frame tilted to one side. As coincidence would have it he was on my plane back to Italy, many people were very happy for him and his fast time of 2 hours 18 mins. He certainly cheered me up, thanks for putting on such a great display of running skill Mr Hajji and you earned every penny of the prize money twice over. The two puddles of water that we were warned of at the start of the race, were in fact sections of flooded road! In some other countries the marathon might have been called off unnecessarily. Here in Malta most competitors ran along the top of the dry stone wall twice and happily splashed thru the sea washed finish with wet smiles, it added an ethnic eccentricity to the runs. The water may obviously have affected the times a bit, so that fast 2hr18, might have even been a twinkle faster yet.