100 – a number leading to celebration if you’ve been on this planet for so many years; a number promoting analysis if you’ve been in government for that many days. The connection I have with this figure is my finishing position in the Mdina-Spinola athletics race held on the shortest day of the year – 21 December. This also happens to be the start of the winter season and befittingly, having 99 runners arrive before me leaves me somewhat cold. OK, maybe that’s being too severe with myself bearing in mind that 567 people came in after me. So instead, I’ll describe my feelings towards this particular 100 as indifferent.
Having returned to my favourite road race is a cause for celebration in itself. Mdina to Spinola is the only remaining classic event after the axing over the years of Balluta-Spinola, Round the Bastions and Xemxija, amongst others. It also happens to be my favourite not because I’ve ever had any particularly good timings but because it is running at its most basic – getting from point A to point B as quickly as you can. Plus, the locations are a draw in themselves. Mdina, Malta’s medieval city, hears the pounding of athletes’ footsteps rather than those of an enemy marching towards its walls. Spinola, receiving the same runners just as it does the fishing boats which sail in with their catch.
My casual attitude is directed inwards, to my sensations on the road, rather than outwards, to the event. I ran, and I ran as best I could. However, this best felt pedestrian. I was moving forwards, yet the body’s engine was in a fixed gear. I progressed but along the way I was being overtaken. For someone who has always been a “come from behind” competitor, getting stronger as the miles pile up, I certainly had no reason to rejoice at this novel and unintentional game plan. Neither am I dejected though because I am fully aware that trying to compare the athlete I am today to that of 5 years ago (let alone 20) is an exercise in demoralization.
This particular 100 is now fit to be archived.