I wonder how many of you, like me, saw Michael Marantelli’s great running prowess and automatically assumed that his transition into umpiring came on the back of his elite running skills. Not so.
“I loved to run and keep fit as a kid. Dad was a runner but I had no real interest in it until a mate suggested I should become an umpire because I liked to keep fit,” reflected Marra when we caught up with him today. It was only when he went out to the Essendon District Football League that he realised he wasn’t a bad runner and started to combine both.
Marra was offered an AFL contract in 2011 and three years later he walked out to umpire the 2013 grand final. He followed in the footsteps of some very elite boundary umpires who umpired their first grand final at around the 70 game mark. Adam Coote, Justin Bennison, Ian Burrows, Chris Gordon and hall of fame inductee Gordon Muir, who Marra says played an influential part in his transition into pro running are just some of the names that roll off the tongue to achieve a similar feat. “Pro running for me compliments my umpiring. Training for a 1500 metre race these days is very similar to our current training patterns.
“Umpiring certainly takes precedence. It’s a large part of my life. The friendships I have made and continue to make are the best part of the role. More interstate travel this year means we get to run with guys we otherwise only see at finals time or at a pre-season camp, which is great.”
Marra holds the distinction of winning a City to Surf run. Albeit in Darwin. “We umpired the AFL game in town the day before and I decided to get up early and do the run. It was a great training run after a pretty tough match.”
Marra says that despite an injury riddled pro running season he has come into the football season injury free and feeling pretty good. Now there is an ominous warning if I’ve ever heard one!
“The one hundred game milestone is important to me. It gives the chance to sit back and reflect on my achievements to date but more importantly it has given me the opportunity to set myself some new challenges.” I suppose one of those will be a second grand final Marra?
In true Marra style he brushes over the question and continues to talk about the friendships he has made and how the guys make training interesting and challenging……………….
Pictured: 100 gamer – AFL Boundary Umpire – Michael Marantelli