Running marathons in different countries and at different places has been my thing for quite some time now. I am currently based at Malta for work and La Valette marathon (and half marathon) was taking place the 5th February 2023 so I joined in. It wasn´t more than two months since I ran Valencia marathon and usually I do not run marathons this often. Ideally I would prefer three months in between but I gave it a try. La Valette marathon is a fairly new race. This was the second edition. Malta marathon that takes place in a few weeks has a flat route while this one is hilly. I mean hilly as in hilly. La Velette marathon has a single course starting in Sliema, takes you around the capital Valletta, to the airport, the South and ends in the upscale area of Birgu.
There was a half marathon and marathon in the same day. Around 200 people had signed up for the full marathon covering 42 195 meters. The distance was almost exact the same amount as my Garmin watch showed me and this race is AIMS certified so big creds to an almost exactly measured course like we ran through. Funny enough I had been to each and every street on it. Even small villages and tiny roads where the Maltese famous stonewalls were forming narrow passages. The marathon was rated as medium tough and I fully agree. The new course in Stockholm is flat compared to this and I was complaining about the hills at Södermalm. I won´t comment anymore about that.
The warmup phase
I turned on my GPS watch at 7 am. Felt ready but also not ready for taking on the challenge. It was raining a bit so the roads were slippery and before the start we covered up under a roof. The water made the many holes in the roads into small pounds. From the starting line until we reached Valetta I was not in mode for a marathon. I was thinking about my first DNF. I saw I ran slow, above 6min/km. I have been running that road along the water in Sliema to Valetta so many times I do more or less know each and every stone. The hill up to the capital felt not as steep as usual and I started to wake up a bit. It started to rain a bit more and after reaching the 10K line the streets were flooding at some places due to the rain and lack of drain system. My feet’s were wet but at least I had mentally prepared to finish the full distance. I was thinking about what to write in my race report, about work stuff, Malta a bit of this and a bit of that. Wished I had music with me since it was more or less a solo race. Had some Croatian runners doing the same pace but they were three friends and I could not understand anything they talked about so I decided to speed up a bit since it was just draining my energy to hear them talking in a language I don´t understand.
The route was the most boring ever. Almost no entertainment and around zero people out cheering. The good thing though was that the race organizers had water and orange slices every 5K. At 20K I actually got hungry since I had no breakfast before and just a bar and coffee. I prefer a later start of marathons so it is possible to eat before.
I kept on running. My body started to wake up and half way into it I was focusing on the 30K mark. It was up one hill and down the next one. No beautiful scenery what so ever. They had marked the route with cones but since people here drive like crazy I think the drivers had a secret challenge to drive over the cones.
Running marathons is a lot about routine. I feel I have got that now after 30+ marathons. I know how it should feel like and know where you can push more without hitting the wall. I was going on a steady pace. Not a high pulse at all. My aim was to finish with a decent time and due to the lack of snow this was a training replacement for a session of crosscountry skiing. There are a lot of similarities between xc skiing and running and for me if I cannot practice skiing in the winter I can replace it with trail running, road running, intervals at the treadmill and the crosstrainer.
This was a tough finish. After 35 kilometers I knew it was going to be 5,5 kilometers uphill so I had saved my energy to here. It wasn´t the first time I visited Birgu (actually one of my favorite parts of Malta) and have more or less walked every street there so I knew how it was which was a large advantage. I passed many runners when running upwards through the hills. When running down the steep slopes my knees were aching. I never had that feeling before and it was like my legs could not hold back more so all pressure landed in my knees. Guess I will have to hit the gym and do one or two leg exercises again which I have not done since I left Stockholm back in early September.
The finish line
After 4 hours 3 minutes and 56 seconds I was done. The sun was shining and I had a good amount of energy left. If I was hungry before the craving for something to eat was far gone. I chilled out a bit in the sun, had two bottles of water and watched the price ceremony. Since this race wasn’t huge and I knew I had been running quite well I though I would end up in 3rd place in my age category. I was chitchatting with another runner and she was faster than me but in next age category and this time I both had the age with me and the performance so I got to enter the podium and got a nice trophy as the winner of Women’s marathon 35-39 years old. What a nice surprise! Thanks for that Malta. That made me forgot the struggle over the hills and the boring route. One thing for sure, I will not come back and run this race again and honestly not recommend to a friend. PS: as you can see the trophy is in Maltese quality, mentioning half marathon although I ran the marathon distance.
Over to the best part of it all. Celebration time. I had a pizza from the very best pizza place in Malta, Bianco’s and ice cream from Rivareno. Then spent an hour and a half outside in the sun before heading to the indoor pool and sauna. Think I deserve some wine now which is pretty unusual since I rarely drink when on business trips.
/ Pernilla that enjoy the sun in Malta
Did you ever receive your prize money? I am still waiting.
No I have not. As with other Malta related things it would be bonus if they turn up one day. Sent them an email a couple of weeks ago and they said they were working on it. Will send a reminder.
I have sent them weekly emails. Now they are ignoring them. I won’t be running this one again!
Got an email from them a couple of days ago telling me they will send the awards by 15MAR. I believe it when I see it…