Andrew Grech has been running for 24 years now and went on to establish himself as one of the fastest long-distance runners on the island.
Throughout his career, he has managed some impressive results which included victories in several local and overseas races as well as setting the half marathon national record.
He describes his decision to leave his football career way back in 1999 to start practising long-distance running as life-changing but at the same time the best long-term investment he could ever make.
“When I was young I played football but in 1999 I suffered an injury and during my rehabilitation in a local gym I met with a guy that used to organise races in Malta and invited me to take part in one,” Grech said.
“I applied to take part and I did very well and I have to admit that I fell in love with the sport. From then on I became a member with a top local club and never looked back. I left my football career and started to take part in road races.
“Running is not my hobby but my lifestyle, I have to say. It’s a great way to keep yourself fit and I have become so addicted to it that when I take a day off from my training I do feel a bit of guilt.”
Grech said running has become such an integral part of his life that everything in his life is planned around his career.
“Running is a very important part of my life and I have to admit that everything evolves around my running schedule. Once the coach gives me my training programme I plan my week around it,” Grech said.
“Even when I go on a holiday abroad with my family, the first thing I look is where there is a race I can run before continuing my holiday in that country. However, I need to emphasise that all this would not be possible without the tremendous support of my family, particularly my wife and daughter.
“You cannot be successful if you don’t have the continuous support of the people around you. Added to that I found a lot of support from other entities. I am a policeman by profession and the police commissioner has given me a lot of support in my career while I also benefit from the SportMalta Flexi Scheme that gives me the opportunity to train during part of my working hours.
“Running has changed my life as it helps me to conduct a healthy lifestyle and even from a mental point of view it reaps great benefits as it keeps me focused.”
Grech says there has been some setbacks in his career but it all depends on how he reacts to such disappointments.
“A career in sport is full of ups and downs but it’s how you respond to these setbacks that is most important. In 2014, I was on my way to battling for victory in the Malta Marathon when I ended up dehydrated in the final part of the race and had to settle for second place,” he said.
“It was a great setback as I felt I was in my best shape. But I kept believing in myself and after a two-week rest I went on to grab one of the highlights of my career when I set a new Maltese Half Marathon record at the World Championship in Copenhagen.
“There have been many other highs in my career which included running a 2:28 in the 2017 Malta Marathon while last year I placed third in the Malta Marathon with a 2:31 that earned me a place in the World Masters that will be held in Sydney next year. I hope that I will be able to take part as it will be a great experience for me.”
Grech will embark on new ground next year as, in collaboration with CORSA, he has designed a new course for a new race that will be held on October 6, by the name of Beat Your PB by Andrew.
“I was approached by Matthew Pace with the idea of designing a new fast race that will take its place on the local calendar,” Grech said.
“I immediately accepted and I chose to start the race from Buskett and from their the participants will race downhill towards Valley Road in Birkirkara and going on to finish near the Msida Parish Church.
“It’s a very fast course where I am sure that all the participants have a great chance of setting a new personal best. On a personal note, my goal for this race is to complete the distance in approximately 31.52.”
Apart from this race, Grech is also planning to take part in the third edition of the La Valette Half Marathon on March 24.
The Evolve AC runner has already taken part in the opening two editions where he first finished third overall and last year he was the third Maltese to cross the finish line.
“I really enjoy running the La Valette Half Marathon,” Grech said.
“It’s a race that incorporates together many historical sites and you really enjoy running around the course as there is some impressive scenery.
“No doubt, this race is a great attraction not only for Maltese runners but also for foreign participants as they get the chance to practise their favourite sport and see some beautiful historical sites that our country can offer.”
Asked whether he had an advice for those runners who are keen to take the sports seriously, Grech said: “Long-distance running gives you a lot. If you are disciplined and take it seriously you are guaranteed a very long career.
“It’s never too late to start running and for me, it’s a life-long investment for a healthy lifestyle.
“You cannot do anything in life without sacrifices but if you are committed it’s a great ride. It’s very important that you have a mentor or a coach that follows your journey and it is even more important that you are very sincere with him.
“I have been with my coach Has Kesra for more than 20 years and he knows me inside out. From the data he sees from my training programme he understands if I encountered any problems.
“Having a coach with whom you have a sincere relationship is vital so that one can fulfil his potential.”
The La Valette Marathon will be held on Sunday, March 24, 2024.
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