Dehydration, falls, rising up, podium – all in one marathon

Posted by Mellieha AC 27th February 2014 1 Comment 10245 views

It is said that the person who starts a marathon is not the same person who finishes the marathon.  The marathon itself also develops in different forms one kilometre from another.  And the drama it sometimes decides to offer reminds me of the climate change that some scientists are telling us about.  One day or one kilometre it can be sunny, the next you experience thunder and lightning.

Mellieħa AC’s top runner Andrew Grech felt it all this year.  There were expectations on him by his coach, by his club, and by himself.  He was cruising in every race during the season, and managed to cruise till about the 40th kilometre.  But then thunder struck.  Thunder struck and left its damage, but it didn’t wipe.  Andrew’s reserves came to the fore and it’s now just a lesson to learn from.

In the meantime, Andrew added another personal best in another distance, and another place on the podium, as he still placed second Maltese overall.

Andrew Grech


Andrew, this was your third marathon.  It seemed like everything was going on plan.  What has then exactly happened?

Yes everything was going to plan and even beyond. At the half marathon mark I clocked just 1hr10’40” and kept a very strong pace till the 36-38 kilometre marks. However, as early as the 5th kilometre I got a stitch on my left side and although I knew how important hydration is to complete a marathon, I thought drinking more liquids will aggravate my stitch.


Looking back were there any warning signs that maybe you should have heeded to?

From past marathon experience I knew that the last kilometres will be hard to keep up the pace but I never imagined that I could finish in such a state.  I covered the last 2.2 kilometres in nearly 14 minutes! The transformation from tiredness to helplessness was incredibly abrupt.  Otherwise I would have controlled my pace better.

It must be a bitter-sweet experience, as you still did a personal best of 13 seconds and placed 2nd Maltese?

After a very good season where I registered personal bests in all distances I ran in, I was optimistic of doing better than last year.

Maybe some would have stopped, as at times I was literally on the floor but it’s not in my character to quit.  I would have felt very bad if I didn’t complete the whole distance, so let’s take the positive out of the whole situation, a personal best is always a personal best.


What has such an experience thought you about the ones around you?

There are persons who really love to see me at my best such as my family who were waiting hesitantly at the finishing line.  Has Kesra and Robert Vella were on my side before, during and after the marathon. The same goes for the Mellieħa AC family under the guidance of Julian Borg, and also other sincere runners from the running community.  Then there are other persons on the other side of the scale who I might have thought positively about before but they really let me down. Luckily the former outweigh the latter.


And now, as the dust is settling, what is the next challenge?

There are many more challenges ahead before the season settles, local races both on track and on road. I also have one or two races abroad on my mind, amongst which the Edinburgh Half Marathon in May.





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