It’s amazing what a ray of sunshine can do for an Englishman in December. I stepped off the plane, felt the sun on my back, and the sleepless night and painful journey to and through Luton airport were all forgotten. It was very fine to be in Malta.
The taxi journey to Valletta – capital city of Malta and World Heritage Site – did nothing to dampen the mood. Lots of stunning views of old buildings and fortifications gleaming white in the sun.
I was picked up in Valletta by Nathan Farrugia. I met a lot of amazing people doing my previous challenge (every different Olympic and Paralympic event) Nathan’s right up there. He holds the world record for consecutive marathons (27 in 27 days across the EU), runs Inspire (a major Maltese charity helping to look after those with disabilities), commonly goes for 100km runs up Mont Blanc and the like, and was just off to Nepal with his family to spend two weeks volunteering over Christmas.
Today his slightly less challenging task was to shepherd me round my Maltese 10km.
We started at the British High Commission where the High Commission had been good enough to arrange a press photo call. If I’m honest, I half expected this to involve their receptionist and a smartphone. So it was a pleasant surprise to walk outside with Rob Luke (the High Commissioner) and Nathan to find at least ten members of the press waiting for us. Welcome speeches, photos and couple of interviews to camera later and we were off on our run.
Simon Lavender and Victoria Stivala from the High Commission joined us and I think it’s fair to say that Nathan struggled to stay with our pace. Or possibly not. In any event, it was about as pleasant as a 10km run can ever be for me. Flat, sunny, along the waterfront and good company.
I spent the rest of the day catching up on email and exploring Valletta. It really is a fabulous place – perhaps best known in the UK for its key role in resisting the Ottoman Empire in 1565 and the Nazis in World War II. (The whole island of Malta was collectively awarded the George Cross for their WWII heroics.) Visit if you can.
It was also the first time I’d been abroad on a run since my mother died in early December. And there was something about Valletta’s atmospheric streets that made me feel she was still there looking after me. I hope so anyway.
Journeys back are never as much fun as the journey there but this one was enlivened by idly picking up the Times of Malta in the airport café and finding a nice article about the run on page 6. A good end to a great trip. Thank you Nathan, Rob, Victoria and Simon for all the help and support.
Date : 19th November, 2013
Time : 52’ 27”
Total Distance Run to date : 70 km