|Malta Half Marathon:||1:24:52||23/02/14|
|10km – Fleur-De-Lys:||38:27||13/12/13|
|5km – Marsa:||18:05||01/06/14|
|1500m – Marsa:||4:42:69||16/07/14|
|800m – Marsa:||2:19:20||23/07/14|
What inspired you to take up running?
Mostly I was influenced by my father and family to take up athletics. I had gotten to a point in my life where I was unhealthy and going through a rough period.
I remember in 2008 I went to cheer my father on his 4th Half marathon and granted it was not his best time. I remember feeling a little emotional and I thought I wanted to experience something like that someday so I decided that someday soon I’ll give it a go.
What events do you compete in?
A yearly must do is the Malta half marathon, for me that is like the annual check to see how much I have progressed over the year. I mostly focus on 10km to 5km races however influenced by my coach and running partners I do enjoy competing in track and field events from time to time. However I mainly do long distance events with some middle distance events such as 1500m and 800m for fun. Recently I’ve also opted to do the Mdina2Spinola race which is a lot of fun because most of it is downhill and quite fast. Of course many people advice against it because of injury but running so fast is invigorating.
And your favourite race?
Many races, I guess the Malta Half Marathon has some allure to it however the Dingli 10 is the more scenic route
What was your best race ever?
I guess it’s hard to choose because you compete in so many races and each has its own unique story about the way you felt. However if I had to choose I would choose the most recent Dingli 10 race.
So far I have been plagued with illness every time the Malta Half Marathon comes about. In fact I posted a time which for me was not so good, it was far away from what my coach and I were hoping for. Usually my coach does not let me take part in the Dingli 10, he says that it’s too close to the half and there is an added risk of injury. This year however I managed to convince him and he let me do it. I wanted to prove to myself that all that training was not done in vain.
Going to the race I remember feeling unusually calm, usually I am a bit more on edge however this time I felt calm like I knew something great was going to happen. My dad came to cheer me on as he does for most major races and I remember him asking me “what time do you think you’re going to post today?” I replied with an “I don’t know and I really don’t care, I just want to go out there and enjoy the race.”
Gun went off and I had a small voice in my head saying Mark don’t go out too fast it’s a long route and quite hilly so I thought OK keep it steady and gain as much as I possibly can in the beginning. I remember pacing most of the first 6 to 7 kilometres with a good friend Noel Spiteri from Zurrieq Wolves and we maintained a good pace. I specifically remember feeling great during the uphill parts of the course and thinking that I’m doing something stupid. In fact I was passing athlete whom I usually do not pass. At that time you don’t think that you’re feeling good just keep pushing, you think the worst, that you’re doing something stupid or ruining your race by pushing too hard in the middle.
At about 12km I remember feeling like there was a small rock next to my heel, something that might happen since the route passes through some roads which are not fully paved. I thought well I should try to remove it. But it wasn’t a small rock it was my insole which had dislodged itself and started to creep up the side of my heel! I thought well leave it there and see what happens.
Going past the infamous Dingli radar hill I remember what my teammate Simon Spiteri told me that in the last turn then its 1km to go just kick from there. At this point my dad was placed as a marshal and he was shouting “PUSH MARK! You’re 11th overall!” I didn’t know I was so far up the classification and I was gaining on the 10th place. Mentally I knew I was either going to finish 10th or die trying. In the last kilometre I pushed the pace, in fact I posted a sub 3:30 kilometre and go onto placing top 10 and 1st under 25 for the Dingli 10 2015.
Definitely a race worth doing!
Why do you run?
I enjoy it. Running has helped me relieve the stress which comes about from my University studies and life. I do enjoy the healthy competition which you have with other athletes sometimes but that only pushes you to be faster and try to push that little bit harder in training and races. Running or exercising helped me become a better and healthier person. It showed me a world and a community which literally anyone can join.
Who is your role model?
Definitely my dad he was a great and respected athlete for the few seasons he competed in. In fact sometimes we do pick on one another about the times he posted and the times I post.
I do also admire some of my training partners and my coach, Xandru Grech. We are constantly helping and pushing each other to get faster and keep it up.
Something, not related to athletics, which you really, really like
Aviation mostly, Formula 1, Astrophysics, and star gazing.
Now, something you really, really hate
Having to study something I don’t like
What is your future ambition in athletics?
I would certainly love to win a race, any race really.
And your future ambition in life?
Lifelong boyhood dream to become a pilot.