Category: Leisure

My journey to 21 KM run

I never used to run, apart from the sports day at primary and secondary school, always preferred adventurous sports like abseiling, camping and diving. So during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, I found myself at the age of 37 years, working long hours at home with little activity. By February 2021 I was obese at 85kg and would end up out of breath after a 10-minute walk along a promenade. Something needed to change, we bought a kayak, my wife and I, and started going at weekends. There was little improvement so something else needed to change. In July 2021, I started my running training and today, 7 months later I completed my first 21 KM run. This is a journey of self-awareness, health, mental control, friendship, goal setting, support and love.

This is where my best friend and diving buddy, Matthew Farrugia, comes in. He went through a major life change and became fixated on fitness. Sharing his insights and knowledge, I set out a plan to start with walking, then intervals, then complemented with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Just two weeks after starting, I started developing shin pains and was recommended to a great Podiatrist Mr Clinton Schembri Francalanza. Found out I am severely flat-footed and needed to work a lot on my running technique. Bought a proper running shoe with a stable frame and gradually started improving my technique. My first lesson, get the right equipment and listen to your body.

In time I started to be able to complete a 5 km run in one go with no stops at a personal best of around 32 minutes. That is when my friend Matt told me to do a trial race at the 3-cities route, starting from St. Angelo, via Bormla, to Senglea point and back. What should have been a 6′ per km pace ended up being a 5’30” per km with a stitch forming at the 3rd km. That is where Matt’s motivation and support kicked in, maintaining the same pace and telling to keep running. We ended the run at 27’16”, a 5-minute improvement and a mind-opening experience, running pain only hurts. I rested for a week, then repeated the distance and pace on the treadmill, then repeated it on my own improving to just below 25 minutes.

My first 3-cities track in under 28 minutes.

This was after just over 3 months of training, losing on average 600 grams a week, at which point was weighting 74kg. My next goal was to keep going to 71kg and complete a 10km run. In December I started running with another friend and colleague of mine, Luke Vella Critien. We started running three times a week and gradually picked up distance and pace. Kept pushing my limits until we managed to complete 10 km at the 3-cities route in under 50 minutes. Having completed this goal I set my next goal for endurance, to be able to complete 21 km. Luke asked if I’d consider going up to Imtarfa Tower, a route I was afraid of due to the incline and thought I was not going to make it, but I did not want to miss on the opportunity so we went for it. Our first 12 km route, with a steep incline, is yet another mind-opening experience, with a controlled pace you can conquer any route.

At around this period two other great events happened, my wife decided to start walking with me, then my brother started following a similar programme to mine. Another mind-opening experience, fitness training is contagious.

The Malta Marathon was approaching and with it came a lot of drama. I was not interested in participating, just wanted to reach my personal goals and have fun. Together with it, the 7-month milestone of running was approaching. I had to miss two practice runs due to slight injury and other events, yet was determined to attempt a 21 km route on Monday the 28th of February 2022. Practised 10 km two days before, had chicken for two days, prepared my running setup, took 2 supplements to take at the 9 km and 18 km milestones, planned and memorized the route well, and most of all prepared mentally. I had to let go of negative events and thoughts that were weighing me down and focus on my goals.

The day came, 4:30 am, woke up and prepared, was out just before 5:00 am. 2 km in, started feeling some soreness and at 3 km started feeling a stitch, “You are stronger than the stitch”, “running pain just hurts”, “you have been here, you are going to make it”. This is a mental challenge as much as it is a physical challenge. The route is mixed with uphills and downhills, remembering what Matt had told me, use the downhills and flatland to rest, control your breathing, maintain a steady pace. At 11 km was near the Radar Dome at Dingli, past halfway, at the highest point, time to take a supplement. Wow, these fruit mix puree really pack an energy boost. At 16 km was exiting Mdina and going downhill. For the first time let out a “Woohoo” aloud like my friend Luke does, that feels good. The last 2 km were painful due to blisters, knee soreness, fatigue, but was feeling really good.

I reached my goal of completing 21 km at 2 hours 10 minutes, painful but really rewarding with a feel-good factor. I learnt a lot during this 7-month process and now my greatest goal yet, keeping a balanced routine of 1-2 hrs for six days a week for as long as I can. I started a new habit for my personal health and well being and got so much more, it also came with the support of many. Thanks to my best friend Matt for your support, guidance and motivation. Thanks to my Podiatrist Clinton for your excellent guidance and service. Thanks to my friend Luke for being a running buddy, for your support and for motivating each other. Most of all to my wife Sephora for all your patience, support and love.

Kiso-Suzuki 9651

My first guitar was a second-hand Kiso-Suzuki. Not much is known, other than that it was a company from Japan that use to do Martin replicas until they were faced with lawsuits.

My research led me to believe that it is made of ash wood, manufactured in 1979 and has a 2 5/8 inch saddle (only 1 store on eBay has them). The neck has a wonderful feel, most probably solid rosewood and the guitar is very light (nothing else is solid). Surprisingly with a truss rod for calibration.

Did some modifications since it only had 1 strap pin which I replaced with a Schaller strap lock and fitted a second on the neck.

Information about:

Guitar Playing

During my M.Sc. studies, I started to feel stress taking the better of me and needed a means to cope. That is when I started to play guitar. Nearly three years down the line and I have added a couple of guitars to my collection and can play a few songs. It is a real pleasure and great fun. I must thank Justin Sandercoe for his dedication and great work. I also recommend Yousician.


I am the proud owner of an Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus and a Faith Venus Blood Moon. Thanks to my wife, Sephora, for these wonderful gifts and her support.



Being blessed by being Maltese, it was inevitable that a love for the sea would grow. Every Summer I would head off for the sea snorkeling. Then at the age of twenty I started the diving course and four years ago I started taking some underwater photography. My all time favorite was at the very beginning of a dive! We start descending, then for some reason I turn back to check on my buddy, Roberto! Click! A great shot is taken! Judge for yourself and comment!

Abseiling in Imtahleb

It was a chilly Sunday morning, we met at the Roman Villa, Rabat then headed off to Imtahleb. Roberto and myself secured the ropes, descended slowly to check the terrain and arrange the ropes. All was set and we descended a few more times! Really enjoyed it! First using the double-stop-descender, then a couple of times using figure of eights. Lastly we raced down the slope before we called it a day!

The rope setup for a beginner’s abseiling trial!

The view whilst abseiling at Imtahleb!

The track taken from top to bottom!

Roberto (left) and myself (right) starting our descent!

Roberto and myself racing to the end!

A very enjoyable Sunday morning!

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