Nothing focuses the mind like a deadline. From the moment I wrote last Saturday that the closing date for entries was January 16, it seems like there has been a tsunami of online entries. And like a real-life tsunami, there have been repeated aftershocks; day after day bringing another 50, another 100 applications.

So much so that writing this article three days before the deadline closes, although exact figures cannot be given, it already looks like this year’s 26th Malta Marathon will be another record event, surpassing even last year’s 1,400 entrants.

As stated, the deadline for guaranteed entry is midnight tomorrow.

The organisers will send the one-time-only medal order to China on Monday morning. We will order enough medals to cover all official entries received to that point, and we will include a small fudge factor of extra medals to cover people who – for some reason – are leaving their application to a later date.

Therefore, the online entry website will remain open beyond tomorrow night, but – and let me be very clear – there is no guarantee that any entries made after the deadline will be accepted. We will order very, very few extra medals, because each one is embossed with the race date and therefore unusable after the event.

It should also be understood that we cannot financially afford to over-order.

I fail to understand why anyone would leave their application to later than tomorrow anyway. Each of you has been training for months and by now should know whether you will be physically ready on race-day or not.

If you are a cautious individual who does not want to apply today in case something untoward happens, let me assure you that although we are unable to refund your entry fee should you not take part, what we will do is offer you a free entry in next year’s event.

Never too late

Published studies have shown a direct relationship between fitness and longevity. The more fit you are, the longer you’re likely to live. Age makes little difference, according to new study. It’s never too late to receive a survival benefit from physical activity.

A US study tested 5,314 males – aged 65 to 92 years – and found that every increase in exercise capacity carried with it a 12 per cent reduction in risk of death. Improve exercise capacity a little and benefit from a 12 per cent reduction in risk of mortality; train even harder and get a 24 per cent reduction...

They also found that 70-year-olds benefited the same as younger patients. No matter what the age, unfit individuals who improved their exercise capacity had a lower risk of death. Even 20-40 minutes of brisk daily exercise (e.g. walking) was enough to earn the initial 12 per cent benefit in mortality risk.

British researchers conducted a systematic review of studies examining the relationship between ability to do physical tasks of everyday living – grip strength, walking speed – and mortality. In every measure, those who performed less well were found to be at a higher risk of all cause of mortality.

For example, comparing the weakest with the strongest 25 per cent in grip strength (53,475 participants) the risk was 67 per cent higher. For walking speed (14,692) the margin was 187 per cent.

Tell everyone you care for; exercise works. And no matter what age they are, it can work for them.

Be safe out there and enjoy your training; and don’t forget to apply online at before the deadline tomorrow.

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