TM’s Ryan at the Pisa Half Marathon

A new personal record

A few weeks ago, Ryan Spiteri from Transport Malta’s Small Ships Register participated in Pisa’s Half marathon. The Authority supported Ryan’s venture in a bid to encourage more employees in engaging in sports activities and thus help enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

The following is Ryan’s account of his participation.

Following my newly set record at the Żurrieq Half Marathon in November (1:32:23), I had decided that my next goal would be that of not only clocking a better half marathon time but to also achieve a milestone I had always desired in my running career; beating the 1h30m mark. With that in mind, I signed up for the Pisa Half Marathon and got back to the grindstone, training hard to attain this coveted result.

Although the last edition was characterised by considerably cold conditions, this year, the sun was shining bright on the historic town of Pisa. On race day, the conditions turned out to be more favourable than expected, giving me a much needed mental boost to stay focused, to pace myself and ensure optimal hydration and nutrition while racing. Up to the 18km mark, I had managed to maintain a steady 4:17/km pace and prospects of finishing the race in under 1h30 were promising. However, as I got closer to the city centre, time was ticking and I still could not see the renowned leaning tower where the finish line stood.

I could picture myself crossing the finish line to find out that I had missed the target by a mere few seconds. That is when I dug deep for what energy I had left and pushed through the last 2-3km at the fastest pace I could muster. After a series of corners along the streets of Pisa, there was the finish line, with the clock seconds away from turning 1:30:00. I sprinted for the last few metres, only to collapse in the finish area. The first aid team on site, coincidentally the Ordine di Malta, immediately took me under their care and left me under observation in their rescue tent.

While recovering, I was pleased to find out, from my personal watch readings, that although the race was slightly longer than the official half marathon distance, I had still managed to make it past the finish line in 1:29:59, a new personal record.

Later I found out that my official time was 1:29:55.

The celebrations were unfortunately soon marred by the unfortunate news of an athlete’s tragic passing. Another Maltese runner, also named Ryan, lost his life whilst dining with his friends a few metres away from the finish line.

Whilst I thank the Chairman’s office, my close friends and colleagues for their concerns at the time, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the Tonna family and all of my colleagues who during this festive season instead of celebrating, are grieving the loss of someone dear to them.

Next on the TM Athletics Calendar is the next race in the 5K Road Running Series taking place in Gozo on Wednesday 29th January 2020. Moreover, in June 2020 I will be joining my fellow athletes, Norbert Grech and Gianella Bugeja Persiano to represent Transport Malta at the 2020 Athens World Company Games.