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It’s 31 and counting for ever-present Darmanin

Record breaker... St Patrick’s AC runner Charles Darmanin has taken part in all 31 editions of the annual Malta Marathon. Photo: Wally GaleaRecord breaker... St Patrick’s AC runner Charles Darmanin has taken part in all 31 editions of the annual Malta Marathon. Photo: Wally Galea

It is common practice that, in marathon events as in all sporting contests, the leading athletes attract much of the attention of the sports media covering the race.

In this year’s Vodafone Malta Marathon, Abdelhakim Elfelhi took the plaudits as the first competitor to cross the finish line in Sliema, ending the dominance of Moroccan compatriot Mohammed Hajjy.

But further down the field, another feat that went largely unnoticed was achieved by Charles Darmanin.

The veteran athlete became the first runner to complete all 31 editions of the Malta Marathon to date, clocking four hours 18 minutes and two seconds.

It was a memorable achievement, one that could assume greater prestige if it is officially recognised as a new Guinness World Record after Darmanin bettered the feat of an English runner who had competed in 30 consecutive London Marathons.

“Completing one full marathon is already a great achievement in itself but being able to do it consistently for such a long period of time makes it even more satisfying,” Darmanin, who represents St Patrick’s AC, told The Sunday Times of Malta.

“This year, the weather conditions were among the worst I have experienced since my first marathon way back in 1986. It was the first time participants had to contend with force seven northwesterly winds and that made it very tough for us.

“But, despite all the difficulties, I’m proud to have finished the marathon and accomplish such a prestigious feat.”

Darmanin revealed that his participation this year had been under threat after he suffered an injury in the run-up to the February 28 event.

“My preparations for this year’s race were hampered by an injury which put my place on the starting line in serious doubt,” the 60-year-old said.

Completing one full marathon is already a great achievement in itself but to be able to do it consistently for such a long period of time makes it even more satisfying

“I was fortunate to be looked after by Ivan Rozhnov as he helped me regain my fitness in time for the marathon. My heartfelt thanks go to Rozhnov as, if it wasn’t for him, I would have pulled out of this year’s race.”

Looking back on all the editions of the Malta Marathon he has run, Darmanin singled out the 1995 edition as the one he cherishes most.

“That year I was on top of my physical condition,” Darmanin reminisced.

“I arrived for the marathon well-prepared and managed to cover the distance in two hours and 51 minutes which is still my best time.

“In 1995, I also managed to finish a gruelling 100km race which took me over eight hours to complete.”

Asked for his views on the steady growth of the Malta Marathon over the years, Darmanin had words of praise for the organising committee.

“The race has gone through a lot of changes,” he said.

“The course has changed, most notably the starting point as in the past, the marathon took off from Sta Luċija and Dingli.

“But, all these decisions were taken to improve the race and the results are there for all to see as the outstanding increase in participation is testament to the popularity the race has gained throughout the years.”

Walkathon concerns

Darmanin, however, is concerned by the effect the walkathon participants are having on the backend marathon runners.

“Every year, the walkathon participants end up obstructing slow marathon runners like myself as they tend to occupy all the racing lanes, making it difficult for us to move past them,” Darmanin said.

“I know the organisers have changed the walkathon start time to try and ease the problem but unfortunately we are still encountering a few hiccups along the way.

“I hope a solution is found as this is an added problem for the runners, especially in the closing stages of the race when the physical strain starts taking its toll.”

Darmanin has no plans to stop doing what he loves most and has already set his sights on next year’s marathon.

“Running is an integral part of my life and I’m already looking forward to next year’s race,” he said.

“If I’m fit and healthy, there is no reason why I should not keep participating in the marathon.”

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