Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rome Marathon 2010: few statistics

According to the site organizing the RFID tags for all participants at the 2010 Rome Marathon, 11025 people have concluded this 16th edition. This figure represents +0.17% over last year and means that 71.8% of the enrolled participants have finished the 26.2 miles, a pretty high standard for bigger competitions. Rome (along with Paris) is indeed one of the few largest marathon in the world requiring a mandatory medical certificate to enroll in the competition (for all other marathons it is only recommended).
2010 represents the fourth year in a row where more than 10000 participants arrived at the finish line. After 2006 where we had 9956 runners crossing the finish line and 2007 with the record of 11895 runners, in 2008 10248 runners completed the marathon.

Friday, March 26, 2010

2009 Lamone Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the April 5th 2009 Lamone Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Lamone Marathon live experience. Lamone Marathon is in the top 20 of the Italian ranking (number 20) from the number of participants, and it is the second oldest in Italy.

As befits, a good "student" always follow the advice of good "teacher" (who, by the way, is also my husband-coach) in the choice of races. It is a different way to combine fun, sport and holiday in  towns never visited before. Since I can not afford to run more than a marathon a year, I need to  ponder well the choice. Bobo convinced me to stay in Italy and run in the spring, taking advantage of the winter (season to me more favorable) for the preparation. I did not hesitate a moment and just accept his proposal:

Marathon Lamone - Russi (Ravenna) April 5, 2009.

Saturday afternoon, after lunch, with the usual holiday spirit that accompanies us, we leave for Ravenna. I find it tempting to Bobo not take the freeway, but in the vein of "Amarcord", I would like to climb the difficult and fascinating path Passatore to Faenza. We did not hurry, we enjoy all the bend after bend, climb after climb. Enthusiastically relieved all the thrills and disappointments experienced in the six editions that Bobo has over (three times beautifully finished, with excellent performance! Three withdrawals). Memories of good times!

We arrived in Russi in early afternoon and after accommodation, go to the streets to pick up the bib. Here are the organizers busy preparing for tomorrow. That is great for all runners: at 5pm the day before the race the organizers have prepared a "cake party" with various cakes and biscuits, served with tea, water and white wine. Let's do some chatter here and there, curiosity about the city we do not know, then the hotel because we want to dine early and then a quick nap.

This is an ideal climate for a marathon, this first Sunday in April, at 8.30am is still fresh, but we already understand that it will be a busy morning! Childbirthw wearing shorts and shirt sleeves, but Bobo (who follow me with his bike) put in his backpack a possible change. We expect a flat race, in the beautiful countryside of Romagna, though the contours of the trail has several bridges and overpasses which will be certainly difficult. Starting promptly at 9.00am with a turn of about 1 km around the village, we go behind the park of the awards at the end of the run and we go on country roads towards the small villages of Godo and S. Michele. At the 5th km I have to stop for an unexpected pit stop, it did not expect this damn! Race well organized, with intersections properly controlled, refreshment and sponge frequently. We pass through small towns (Piangipane, Borghetto, Santerno) where support and applause of the inhabitants are felt (not a coincidence that, after Borgo San Lorenzo, the marathon is the second oldest in Italy). In Villanova the transition to the half marathon, the feelings are positive, but the heat begins to be felt. I therefore exchange t-shirt on the fly. Towards the 25th km I got the symptoms of a painful intestinal disorder that forces me to the second stop. I actually restarted, but I cannot concentrate as I should. Now let us run with our side the Lamone river, but the runners cannot feel the cool water. Leave a short section of the river to join the village of Bagnacavallo, the biggest town among the ones we have met.

At this point the route I am caught again by severe abdominal pain, I am feeling badly, I stop for the third time. I restart slowly but I don't have anymore the physical strength  to maintain a marathon pace, I'm sorry, disappointed and burst into tears. Now it is really hard: Boncellino shortly after, climb the "iron bridge" to cross the river and take the dirt road on the bank of the Lamone (which will run several kilometers), sent me into crisis. Sobbing continues a bit and walked a little running, thinking about the sacrifices made in recent months, the difficulty in following the "orders" of Bobo, to prepare for my 6th marathon. Bobo goes back and forth to caterers providing a continuous supply of water, but the bank seems never ending. Finally, the 38th km, leave the river and proceed towards Russi. The bell tower is visible in the distance of the town and meeting some forces and morale. It is over, I expected the square and the inflatable arrival, refreshments and then a shower at the hotel.

I am not happy with my performance, in spite of the fact I ranked 3rd at National Championship Uisp of Marathon), but I want to go to get better because the path and this Lamone Marathon game deserve it.
Congratulations and thanks to the organizers.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

2009 Custoza Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the May 2009 Custoza Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Custoza Marathon live experience. Custoza Marathon is in the top 20 of the Italian ranking (number 13) from the number of participants.

I had a perfect race, I held back at the beginning of the race (finally!). Especially where it crosses the first climb, I was sufficiently hydrated throughout the route, to counteract the hot weather, which together with the hardness of the trail represented the key elements of this marathon.

I started cautiously, I was overtaken in the first two kilometers by many runners, but that did not worry me, I know the path, and I have to stay calm, there will be time to restore my ranking position, I continue at my pace till the spectacular as ever Borghetto, running in the middle of this medieval village with tourists that we acclaim brings gooseflesh, we are at the 19th km and now it begins the first difficult leg. The path that leads to Peschiera, traveled thousands of times by bike, rarely is without wind that blows from Monte Baldo. Those are only a few miles, take up with another athlete to 4'13''/ 15''and pass the half in 1:29 '50''. It is perfect, although I would have liked a little more margin. I try and I want to keep the pace on the climbs.

We arrived shortly after the 27th km, from here on, the marathon is really hard, turn right out of the cycle track, and the first wall appears inexorable, honestly I remember it not that hard! We transit through Salionze and before we move on to the house of Lanfree. This is too is a nice little village. We start the second climb, here Lanfree with Emi on a scooter alongside me, they encourage me. I indicate to Emi that I am doing ok, she winked at me. I will find them at various points along the final part of the road.

In this part of the path, I overcome many runners, I am fine even if my legs start to complain, now begins the tough part: the Oliosi ascent. It is short, about 400 meters, but takes your breath away and after 34 km it hurts. As soon as I finish the downhill, I drink a gel, and I manage with a couple of coughs to fetch at once. Just then Fulvio and Bibo come with bikes, they will support me until the end, passing water and sponges. After two kilometers we turn nervous right, and begin the stroke dirt, too annoying, especially the stretch of gravel at the entrance to a villa where the action is driven less. The 39th km we run in the middle of the vineyards of Custoza. Finally the last two km are with descents but I will calf cramps, I do not give up, I try to do stretching while running. I still run well, although gasping, my "wingmen" leads me, 300 meters in front of me I have an athlete, behind no one in sight. Now I know for some time that the three hours are shaded, but later Fabio Rossi will elaborate more. The entry into Villa Venier (which is beautiful) is a standing ovation, I am alone, Fabio announces "... this is one of the most successful runners, nicknamed through the web as Gaston", I crossed the finish line at strong pace by giving the five, and I stop the stopwatch. Fabio look at me and says. "This is like you personal best” I say "I believe so!"

I leave the hurdles and once I get compliments from everyone, Emi, Franco, Fabrizio Sandrelli, Sarah: I was pleased to see a blogger like her.
I am very satisfied, I placed 38th overall, 12th for my category, but above all, I arrived at the shower that Boffo and company were still wet. Three hours here today has not been possible since it was very hot, but I know that for me is not impossible, it will be for the next marathon.
The positive note goes to the organizers, as always impeccable, well-stocked food stops and a pasta party (including relatives) too generous, not to mention the race packet and prizes, really good.

2010 Brescia Art Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the March 14th 2010 Brescia Art Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Brescia Art Marathon live experience. Brescia Art Marathon is in the top 20 of the Italian ranking (number 18) from the number of participants.

10.30pm, Sunday, March 14, 2010. I wish this day never end for me to start and live again the infinite number of today’s emotions.
Wake up at dawn, 5.30am, and at 6.30am the meeting on via Marghera: just 15 minutes with my bike and I am there. I'm about to tie the bike, then I look a person standing in the windows. I see her two minutes later. Paula is there, my mythical companion who has to take a very long of 36km within. She will be running Milan on the 11th of April 2010.
We arrived in Brescia at the huge parking lot and we take the shuttle bus that takes us around the square and preparations for the bib withdrawal. The weather is cold and this irritates me a bit. I am really tired of the cold, I immediately meet Luisa who is full of bibs. So nice from her: she picked up all bibs for everybody. We go in tents that shelter a minimum from the Siberian air.
While the other group was coming, with Spezza, LaBetty, Andrea, Sabbry, we start undressing and dressing for the competition, between jokes and serious thought (one no more...). Meanwhile, I saw the first bars, jellies pre-race, pills to be inserted in shorts, gel to stick to the bib, malt dextrin liquid, lemon the (Andrea only) and leave suggestions on how, where, when and why. Everyone has his or her own theory, someone experienced, someone invents and others improvise, like me who decided at last to get malt dextrin only.

The climate is laughing and although the tension lurks, it is not clear and this makes everything wonderfully subdued, almost soft.
We move close to the departure, they put us in front with the top. "Let’s go”, we start.
The first kilometers are crowded, the streets are narrow and participants in the 10km and half are a significant number. The sun comes to warm the limbs right enough and this comforts me.
I try to start conservative going against my nature, I hold the leg and the I run the first km in 4 minutes, I reduced again the speed and I passed the second kilometer in 4 minutes and 5 seconds, I look around, I let me drag, encircle, overcome by runners and I feel like in a river. It is so nice, until the crossroads brings me back to reality: I miss only 34km!

Like me, another person only turn around, and as lady, I decided to follow him as much as I can. We passed off the first overpasses smoothly, than it is descent. The pace is good, we take the second woman, we reach a group of 4 people together and passionately proceed. I am fine I can take all the supplies and drinking water without chewing. Then around the 15 km mark another little woman carried by a boy begins to accelerate, I try to follow it for a couple of miles but I realize that I sent those two to three seconds off lap so I let them slip off and remain alone (where are the other 4? I do not know!). Sometimes a fan shed near the refreshment. At the half marathon I am feeling well and I am still perky and in good push.

I continue with determination and with good technique up to 30 km mark where I see at the refreshment my custom water bottle. It is great that Silvio was able to bring them to its destination. Take it on the fly with pure enjoyment and I drink the liquid with malt dextrin. I am ready to run the last 12km. However at 31 km mark it appears inevitable crisis. I break down and slow down a bit. I feel my feet less reactive, throwing them to the ground with a thud. Paola reached and encourages me and she goes (mythical woman, she is training). By watching her back, I impose myself of losing as little as possible and I look over with obstinacy.

We are returning to the city's chaos, the legs are wooden. Oh, no, I see another overpass. I overcome it by throwing out the chest and staring at the ground. Then a cool downhill and I start several roundabouts which are distracting but they are not hurting. I smile to some flag-wavers that are blocking cars. The road goes up again, damn and then still a long way down. I see the first cramps and we are on the 39th km. I grit my teeth, I try to give my legs some relief. A runner overtakes me, we are now at the 41 km mark. "Go on Simo, you are close!" and finally the square, Silvio’s voice, the timing makes me smiling: 2h56'30" (Brescia Marathon Garmin route). Silvio hugs me, Paola who clings to me with all the intensity of three months courses side by side in the rain, snow or shine and frost. Ups and downs, doubts and shattered dreams, fears and confirmations, a thousand thoughts, a thousand times, a thousand emotions all together.
Perfect organization, great path despite the climbs breaks legs at the end, unfortunately little audience, but they were all of good quality.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

2010 Rome Marathon: fewer American runners but more than 15000 participants overall

According to the Rai Italian Television, the 16th Edition of the Rome marathon will see more than 15 thousand runners at the starting line. This year the 15346 participants from 83 countries will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome where Ethiopian legend Abebe Bikila, running bare-footed, won the Marathon.

Among the participants, 8834 are Italian and 6512 are foreign. 12674 are men and 2672 women. Rome (including the province) is the city with the highest number of athletes at the start, 2320, as well as Lazio, with 2778 members is the most representative. The second city by number of runners is Naples with 287, while Lombardy remains the second region with 785 participants. Abroad, for the second consecutive year, the French are the most represented, with 1297 members, almost 200 more than in 2009.

Moreover, this year there is a slight decline for the U.S. runners (462), Germans are stable (966), while we noticed a sharp increase over previous editions, for Dutch (287), Belgium (271), Russians (37), Czechs (33), Romanians (34), Greek (70), Finnish (213), Danish (138), Helvetian (153), Japanese (67), Israel (50), Argentineans (23), Brazilians (73), Slovenians (56) and Croats (78).

This year 36 charities organizations are involved in the project for fund-raising. The Tottenham football club has already won the solidarity championship by sending 25 runners participating in the Rome Marathon to raise funds in support of the “Round Table Children's Wish'', a British charity which supports children aged 3 to 17 years terminally ill, helping them to make a wish.

Finally more than 85,000 runners are expected to take part in the mass 4 km Roma-Fun race which will be set from the worldwide Via dei Fori Imperiali.

On Saturday the 15346 participants can pick up the bib of the race at the Marathon Village Palazzo dei Congressi. The marathon village will be the biggest sporting expo in Italy this year, and will be an opportunity for all runners not only to not to receive the kit race but also to offer fans an exposure full of concerts, shows and entertainment.

At the end of the event, the runners could get the medal which is signed by the famous sculptor Alfiero Nena. The press release of the event said that "the artist takes an epic of Bikila and reinterprets. The Ethiopian and imposing runner is transformed by Nena. Long hair and European features. But bare feet and 11 on his chest. He is the runner of the World, is black and white together, and amateur champion. This is the message Abebe innervating the passion of thousands of marathoners. The traditional slogan, "we win any discrimination" has a meaning all new and old: we are all part of the same community".

On Sunday March 21 2010, every 15346 runner can “start his or her dream”, as indicated by the slogan of the event.

2009 Colle Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the May 2009 Colle Mar-athon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Colle Mar-athon live experience.

Colle Mar-athon is a recent marathon, with fast growing number of participants, thanks to its perfect organization. As its Italian name might imply, it starts from the hills in the Center of Italy and finishes in the Adriatic Sea. It is in the top 20 of the Italian ranking (number 12) from the number of participants.

Guys, I've done, I arrived at the finish line!

I got 4h47'23sec as real time but I assure you that is worth much more than it appears. The Collemare Marathon is a beautiful, charming, fascinating and incredibly well organized marathon, where I felt more spoiled than in New York City. However, the Collemare Marathon is also tremendously hard, full of hills that increase legs fatigue. This year everything has been made even more difficult by north breeze that has expired incessantly almost always in the direction opposite to that of race.

But, let's start from the beginning.

I said the beauty and charm. Althought I knew pretty much the large majority of places where the marathon passes, having to run in such places is another matter. The Collemar Marathon starts from the entrance of the wall of Barchi, a village of 1,000 inhabitants about 30 km inland from the sea. It is a very charming town dating back to '500, perched on a hill which offers a breathtaking panorama of the valley and surrounding countries. The start is exciting. A shot fired by a bomb set in medieval costume historian marks the start of the race and thousands of colorful confetti is fired on participants in the first few meters after the start. I was so excited and focused to motivate myself that I even forgot to start the Garmin stopwatch, something the never happened before.

The first km is a dry and tricky descent because it seems "easy" and therefore you risk too much and may pay later. But the illusion does not last long: after the 2 km mark the road starts to climb towards Mondavio, a jewel of Le Marche. Mondavio is a village with a perfectly preserved medieval castle. The marathon is first run alongside the imposing outer walls and then passes inside the castle (where the lady of the castle welcomes the participants in costume!), in their most secret and in the courtyard where stands war medieval instruments including a catapult wood. At the 5km mark, we realized that we were only at the beginning and that the road is still long. Just the time to see other people in historical costume including buglers and flag bearers and the Marathon is back leaving Mondavio. We proceed toward Orciano after a long and difficult climb that culminates with the arrival in the historical center, reaching the 8 km mark. I have settled at around 6min15"/ km and proceeded fairly quiet running in a group formed before Mondavio with other runners, including a very nice man from Rimini named David, who did not miss a chance to try with all girls he met on the edge of the path. When he saw one girl, he started accelerating, he was making a joke and an appreciation, asking for a phone number, gave her a kiss and then started running again as if nothing had happened. A volcano of initiatives and hilarious jokes that helped me a long way not to feel the fatigue. Too bad that he is no longer able to keep it after the 16 km.

Few hundred meters of pavement in the center of Orciano, then we are already out of this third village, toward S. Giorgio di Pesaro, fourth walled town that comes after about 13 km route ending with, needless to say, another climb, this time a little softer. We turn around the old town walls and then we go toward Piagge, a small town about 200 m above sea level. We reached there the 16 km mark, preceded by other tough ups and downs, allowing however to enjoy beautiful views of the hills surroundings. After additional 5 km we reach Cerasa, arriving at the 13.1 miles passage of the half marathon. We then cross another village, S. Costanzo, which arrives after another 6 km and after the Solfanuccio climb of Solfanuccio. Even S. Costanzo is passed through the beautiful old town, where there was a lot of people in traditional costume.

After S. Costanzo and another couple of short climbs, the runners need to go through another long but gentle slope that leads to a hill that indicates the 30 km mark. From there the trail abruptly change: the green hills of the Marche gives way to a breathtaking landscape where we can see the blue see stretch between Fano and Torrette. From distance we begin to see the center and the port of Fano.

Thereafter, it begins a long descent of about 1 km, leading to sea level: the path is "flat" except for two flyovers and downtown in the old town of Fano, which is slighty uphill.

Till the end of the marathon, there are still more than 10 km, which I faced a very slow pace, alternating a light jog to fast walk. Between the 34th and 35th km, as if all the other climbs were not enough, we face a stretch of about 800 m within Metauro river gravel. Obviously my legs, already stretched thin, does not appreciate it.

At km 37 the route goes toward the promenade of Fano and then, on the 39th it reaches the historic center, slightly climbing. Almost to the 41 km mark, we can get into a walkway that runs along the port. The arrival is under there, but there is still a km to run: about 500 m above the walkway and then another 500 at the quays of harbors, where luxurious yachts are moored. There I overtake lot of people that I saw few kilometers before. The finish line is really well positioned: runners face the last right-hand bend at about 50 m from the finish line and the last few meters are bordered by railings but are close together. Therefore the crowd is so close to the participants that it creates an effect of sharing participation.

I arrived at 1:48pm with my arms raised and the speaker greeting me at the microphone "Congratulations also to Eng. Stefano Gentilini, bib No. 478, who finished his race". Indeed the Collemare-ATHON counts as Italian Marathon Championship for Engineers, Architects and Land-surveyors, I enrolled as an engineer ... What satisfaction! Even the customized arrival!
After receiving the medal I headed to the refreshment area to cool off and drink something because I felt really tired. Time to greet my cousin Massimo coming from Senigallia and then I collected my bag and I headed to the showers where I could wash and change.

I did not really enjoy the pasta party unfortunately because the train left at 3:11pm to Milan from Fano Station which is about 3 km away from the arrival path. I walk while eating the pasta dish and enormous sandwiches provided for all participants.
I got on the train where I think I fell asleep after no more than 1 minute ...

So far the news. But let me conclude with some comments.
I stated at the beginning of the quality of the organization. The Collemare marathon main competitive advantage is its beautiful location, with varied and impressive places ranging from the lush green hills of the Marche to the blue sea, passing the castles, villages medieval, scenic sites, the beach and the port of Fano.

But the organizers are really very good: they have made this race very well organized. Not even in New York I felt so cared for the perfect coach from Fano to Barchi, large locker rooms, espresso before departure (and whenever?). A volunteer before departure asked me, 'Everything OK? You need something?". Hot showers, massage and lunch for all in the end, excellent competition package. They say good things done well are recognized by the details: well, here it's all been well maintained, including the arrival ceremony, where the medal is not just delivered but put the neck of each runner.

Beyond the below expectation performance, the physical form not optimal and the final time far away from New York and Milan, it was an amazing race: a beautiful sunny day spent in beautiful places that I have often done also emotions as I ran.

Sometimes when people ask me why I have started running 40 years I played and undergo the fatigue of training, to wake up at early Sunday and also to the efforts certainly not "normal", I do not have the readiness to respond. I take the thin veil of pity and sufficient in the eyes of my interlocutor.
From now on, when I get the same question, I know what to say: even if it means running passing days like that of Collemare-ATHON my answer is "Why should not I do that?"

Friday, March 19, 2010

2010 Verdi Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the February 2010 Verdi Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Verdi Marathon live experience.
Verdi Marathon is in the top 20 of the Italian ranking (number 16) from the number of participants.

I had the first signs that it would not be an easy ride during breakfast: I ate reluctantly aware that I needed fuel, but without hunger. I got a restless night because of the heat in the hotel, of different bed: to be optimistic, I have slept 3 hours at most.
Sunday 28th we had a cool day with 8 degree Celsius at the start with overcast skies and temperatures similar throughout the race. I started with caution since the first kilometers are downhill, it is very dangerous to let your legs going! I immediately realized that it was running as light as usual, to keep the pace I set I had to force and not running naturally. Switching to half as scheduled in 1h 42 min but with an unusual sense of heaviness that I never had before. I realized at the 24 km mark that it was not my most graceful day, I gave up a little and then at 30 km I was sure: let's stop. This is enough for today.
The cold does not help me, as in Florence in 2008, my quads were hurting and I was short of breath, heavy stomach feeling of always there, I've also done some twenty paces from time to time in the last km walk because of leg pain. I got a lot less tired than in Amsterdam thanks to the fact that I was unable to push in the second half and ran to save.

I had already this impression when running other marathons: I like marathons with less than thousands people, volunteers that are less stressed and refreshments always available for everybody, great pasta parties and showers without the crowds. This marathon does not have a particularly attractive location, but has flawless organization, and awesome food around.

I am neither particularly happy nor disappointed today. The marathon distance is not very suitable for me. This is clear, the fact that I always start a marathon without looking for time improvement helps me to still enjoy the long journey to a special day, especially this Sunday, in 3 h 45 min 20 sec.

2010 Placentia Marathon: more than 2500 runners and maybe snow

According to, just one day before the fifteenth Placentia Marathon 2010 edition, the number of participants has reached the highest level, back to the 2008 edition. Over 2500 athletes have enrolled, 700 for the Marathon, 1800 for the half marathon. The departure will take place from Placentia Garilli stadium and the arrival will be in Piazza Cavalli.

This year the athletes might run the Placentia Marathon under the snow, as it was the case for the first edition in 1996, where the snow was the cause for an unexpected free advertising in magazine and TV.

All participants of the events can enjoy the usual organizational services including free storage bags, transport bags on arrival, bus service, showers and pasta party and tasting of salami and wines from the Consortia Piacentini. At the Sport Center at Polisportivo Franzanti, there will be additional areas to accommodate runners. The hand over of storage bags will be taking place at the two soccer fields adjacent to the main hall of the four tennis courts, leading to a covered and heated area of about 5000 square meters.
The event is traditionally linked to a charity for UNICEF. This year the proceeds will be used to set up facilities for the children of Congo. On the right, the evolution on the number of runners finishing the Placentia Marathon. 

The number of people who arrived in 2010 at the end of the 26.2 miles were 546, with a growth rate in the number of runners in the last 5 year of 8.1% per year.

2009 Lucca Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the October 2009 Lucca Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Lucca Marathon live experience.
Although in October 2009 it was at the first edition, Lucca Marathon is already the top 20 of the Italian ranking, and will likely increase the number of participants in 2010.

Saturday, not early morning, but almost, I went along with a teammate and friend to pick up the race bib in Lucca. I was already full of enthusiasm, already proud to be present at this first edition of the Lucca Marathon. Lucca is a wonderful city that I love so much, the sky has that color of blue that is typical of the seaside city, the city is full of history, culture, charm, squares are wonderful as well as its beautiful shops. These are some of the reasons that led me to run this marathon, I would like to live here again if I could. Immediately the adrenaline raises, we enter the Expo and see other fans like me, hear their talk, breathe that air,
made me a bomb of serotonin, better than nutella indeed. Eyes whirling, I absolutely had to see everything, nothing should escape me, stored images as a computer stores data, some would say that I was the "navigator" and so that was the way I felt. Meeting Andrea Maggini, a rock of this sport and these events, along with many other famous faces such as Poli, another stronghold. An expo a little strange, full of not only race and in fact at that time, much to the delight of the gentlemen runners, there was an ongoing fashion show, I withdraw the bib, 931, and then again a little bit around Lucca, coffee, and then "run" at home.

Always on Sunday morning Marco picks me up. Marco is teammate and friend, beautiful person, but he is not running, despite the enrollment due to a flu that had weakened this week.

Too bad, Marco is really strong right now and 3h15 was very possible for him. But it is only right to thank him, was an excellent 'aide' in every sense, both psychologically and as companion. Fully loaded, I was indeed afraid of this extraordinary euphoria that I felt inside me, I was hoping not to fall into the trap of taking the famous "marathon" in the leg, I knew from personal experience that you will not forgive the inadequacy and superficiality, but I knew I improved a lot, the only thing that worried me was my usual back pain, even though I had brought two Flector patches throughout the week, the leg was still there to throw bad signals.

Departure from the walls, a beautiful sight to see the city from above, the first kilometer run, and with them the city around us, I leave immediately the pacemakers of 4 hours, they are running too fast for the first two kilometers far below the 5min / km. It would not be good, neither for me nor for others. I stay back, then slowly past them and reach them too. I was really good, steady pace, no fatigue, even had to reduce my speed. With hindsight I think that maybe I could instead get something at that early stage, since in any case I was aware that the blow would come.
Switching to 13.1 miles sign in approximately 1h54m, then starts a little fake piano (not so fake!). And we go in the adjacent municipalities, an endless series of hairpin turns round and certainly do not help. But the shift to 30 km is 2h45m, I am still going well, I am still good, I still had some margin, even if I had dropped a bit, I could stay there in 4 hours.

Little crew in this part of the race, but the little there is so much cheering that it seemed to multiply. Then comes the pain, the usual, now I know it very well and I know what should I do to make me succumb to it. Tingling in the foot, the hip is asleep, the leg pulling, anyone suffering from sciatica know the symptoms, so you may know what I mean. Despite everything I was extremely happy, I ran alone, but I knew to be accompanied by a special person, I could never give up, I was aware.

I slow down dramatically, I run relying only on the left foot, I try to focus again on another part of my body (a kind of autogenic training) for not thinking about the leg. I also began to sing, a beautiful music in my ears that I was accompanied for much of the race. 35th km, then the wall? No, absolutely not, apart from the leg (and I think little??) No fatigue, yet I did not see double, no cramping, only that I still had to slow down. Despite everything I was very happy, adjusted the desired time, I knew it would nevertheless have been PB. Sudden rush of pure adrenaline, the last two kilometers, acceleration, we rang the legs. Better: one leg is performing double work, I hop toward the center of Lucca, at some point there is a crossroads, with gestures well I still wonder if I go in that direction (you never know, always better to ask), then from a distance I see the arrival, my usual sprint sprinter, with two runners in the photo finish, I left my legendary team-mates and that leads me finally arrived. I was sure that in different physical conditions we would have been under 4 hours. Anyway, it went okay, sooner or later I will succeed. I promised that this time I would not say a word throughout the race and so it was a real pain for me, other than back pain!

The final timing was 4h08 min, PB, however, I got an immense happiness and a dedicated medal.

2010 Federico II marathon live experience

This post describes a live experience for the March 2010 Federico II marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Federico II Marathon live experience.
Federico II is the newest marathon in Italy, but it is already in the top 20 of the Italian ranking (number 19) from the number of participants. It is most likely that it will grow more in the next 3 to 5 years as one of the biggest marathon events in the South of Italy.

I was back to the races after the excellent result of the marathon in Florence in 2008 (3h12).
I wanted to perform well in my homeland in this first edition of the Frederick Marathon Frederick departing from the imposing castle of Castel del Monte (540m above sea level) and arriving in the beautiful Trani Cathedral, through the other two capitals of the newly created sixth province of Puglia, Andria and Barletta. 
I feared for the whether since the day before there were 2 degrees and an icy wind, but luckily it was a beautiful sunny Sunday. 

The departure was wonderful, anticipated from a symbolic showing of Frederick II with a falcon on his shoulder. The first 30 km were all down with some ups and downs without great difficulty. During the transit in the cities of Andria and Barletta there was a number of people on the streets who, spurred also by the runners, cheered and clapped their hands sustaining the runners in their difficult task. All good until the 34 km mark when, along the road 16 to Trani, I began to feel some cramping and I slowed the pace, but after a few meters still severe cramping in his right calf, I went into deep crisis and was tempted several times to retire. However it came into the game a great mental strength that helped me with tenacity and perseverance, alternating walking and the jog dragging my shoes on the asphalt. I arrived at the finish line encouraged by my fellow citizens along the last km and above other runners who invited me not to give up, exclaiming, "you have almost made it." I arrived at the finish line in 3h51 in the Cathedral warm welcome from relatives and friends, concerned about being late, but was still immense joy in embracing, experiencing the great emotions. 

It was really worth participating in this Frederick Marathon. My great congratulation to the Imperial Apulia agency and the Running clubs of the territory: the organization was really impeccable, considering that this was a first edition, and with nearly 600 members has already become one of the top marathons in South Italy. Next year it will certainly be better off by inviting some top runner booster and having more time to publicize it further.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

2009 Verona Marathon live experience

This post describes a live experience for the February 2009 Verona Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Verona Marathon live experience.
Verona is in the top 10 of the Italian ranking (number 8) from the number of participants and has grown significantly in the last 2 years.

I ran the first two editions of the Verona marathon in May 2001 and 2002, then, because the date was changed, and the designed route was not that excellent, I decided not to go there anymore. I guess this was the choice of many runners, since in 2007 this race has been completed by less than 400 runners. I wanted to give a try again to this eighth 2009 edition (unknown number by the organizers, or better say, first of the new series), knowing that I had sufficient preparation, so intrigued by this early date, normally the absolute monopoly of the marathon in the south. And then, there was a loophole, cleverly left by the organizers, to be able to divert the path of the half marathon. Because of this an impressive number of runners has approached this race. More than 3400 has finished the race in 2009 (note: 5200 in 2010), making them one of the top 11 marathons in Italy (2009 data, 8th in 2010), with its 956 (1722 in 2010) classified, and also one of the most heavily used half marathon on the peninsula. Some noted that if the Modena Carpi marathon instead of just worrying about celebrities and TV footage, they did a half; they would have got a success that would not even dream about it. Of course Carpi does not need our advice.

Recently, too many “super marathon runners” have been seduced by Verona, although the same day they had the ritual event on the sands of St. Benedict. The fares for the Verona marathon helped here as well, since they were set as low as 20 euro.

The location of arrival and departure area certainly off art fair, yet comfortable for the parking lot, the spacious covered, hot showers at any time (although without a true locker room).
The choice of location was also smart in the sense that the first half, roughly along the west of the Adige river, was all in all nice and smooth (so that it was rumored that the top runner and Olympics gold medalist Baldini would have tried to beat his personal best at the half marathon), encouraging to continue after 17.6 km where was the fork. The second half was rather somewhat bleak, with ups and downs over all continuous heavy traffic on the highway to Vicenza (but it was supposed to be a green day!), exclusion from the monumental area except for the Arena (passing over the Castelvecchio and the Scaliger bridge, although promised by a photo of the brochure, was reserved for marathoners means, and also the sites of Romeo and Juliet we saw them only in a postal card). The last straw was a ridiculous back and forth at th 30 km, with no control (and yes we put on the RFID chip), but now we had thrown the dice, and who could not take any more he had to continue, at the most cutting those 500 meters.

In the pre-competition, it was excellent the delivery of our numbers. We were a lot in the morning (despite the invitation to come on Saturday) but we ran into a perfect assembly line that, except in special cases, has come on in reasonable time. Moreover latecomers were justified, meaning that the start was delayed by one quarter of an hour (I was reminded of the Prussian-respect of a Calderara 40 days ago, when many were still reaching the departure area).

It was also impressive, near Verona fair and all the way, the deployment of our military service. Though, when after noon the car traffic restarted, it took a bit more authority to block whoever was inserted on our roads. But, Mr. Mayor, what sense does it make a day with three hours of ecological hole in the middle, with the result that all traffic of the day is concentrated in those hours? Okay, we were traveling in separate lanes, but the exhaust gases do not care about barriers and tapes.

The level of refreshments in the first half where average, when we were in almost 4000; it was much better in the second part however. The pasta party at the end of the competition was agreeable (but we had to pay the wine or to scrounge to some friends), the pack-race was rich enough, with a Technical long-sleeve shirt and a backpack as original pieces. The monetary prizes were given equally for men and women, except for a shared penalty in case of poor timing: thus, only the first male has caught whole number, while all others have taken a half (and in fact, 3000 euro from 2h51 for the female winner seemed too much).

For us ordinary people, the medal is nice, but pretty ambiguous: it was the same for the full marathon and the half. Okay, we paid the same amount and the organizers could not predict how many would choose one or the other way, but who will ban now one of 2552 to fly his medal at the bar, claiming to have run 42 km? In this world of marathon where we compete for the highest number of marathons and where we said 'he has done more than you did but I will make two more', and not everyone who collects the data has the time to use rigor in the analysis, it is not strange that a medal would be invoked as evidence.

The weather has also helped; it was sunny and almost lukewarm enough.
Well, I think this experience deserves to have a follow up next year. After the proven success of Venice, Padua and Treviso, is Veneto becoming the first region in Italy for marathons?

Monday, March 15, 2010

2008 Trieste Bavisela Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the 2008 Trieste Bavisela Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original Bavisela Trieste Marathon live experience. Trieste Marathon is in the top 20 of the Italian ranking (number 16) from the number of participants, and it is very international in term of partecipants.

It is since several years that I want to be able to complete a marathon. In December I made the "Karst cavalcade”, 52 km along the heights of the Karst plateau. This was a tough race but a marathon road is something completely different when I was riding my Camel back, uphill walking and eating. Marathon requires a different effort, hopefully my ankles can handle it.

At 7:15 I find myself on one of the buses that, departing from Trieste, brings all the participants at the Trieste Marathon departure in Gradisca d'Isonzo. I think that the road we are now traveling at high speed, when done by running will not be painless! 42 km on street roads are not few: two years ago I tried to do it but, at the 30th, causing pain to my various thin little legs, I had to retire. DNF: Did Not Finish. This is a pretty bad acronym. The route is fast and, compared to two years ago is much better (last year I was in the Atlantic sea sailing: Bavisela, I was not thinking about you).

I mentally divided the marathon in 4 sections.
1) Gradisca - Monfalcone: a pair of up and down the street, but I do not know my way. Then I will keep a slow pace. 2) Monfalcone - Sistiana: some uphill climb that may be "critical" if not managed well. Be caution to the small uphill leading to the beginning of the coastline. 3) Sistiana - Bivio Miramare: pretty much downhill and a splendid view over the Gulf of Trieste. 4) Bivio Miramare – Unity of Italy Square: straight line and then the finish line!

In Gradisca d'Isonzo I found quite some people. Somebody does stretching, some other run. People like me take advantage of a bar for breakfast (which of course I have not got at home. This is pure laziness; I would better decide to do some shopping when the fridge is empty). 
I find myself with Manuel and other characters in the Running World. We are chatting and running in the alleys of the beautiful park of this quiet town in Gradisca. I put tape on my nipples kindly provided by Vido to prevent friction. However I made the mistake of not spreading the Vaseline at critical points.

It comes then the moment of departure. We all arrange in grids, I "choose" the 4 hours one. This is the time that I take as a reference in the Virtual Trainer GPS (Garmin Forerunner 305). The GPS I use it always, in every workout and the Virtual Trainer (which is nothing but a sort of virtual opponent that serves as a reference for the times and distances that you set) is a good training partner.

I settle behind the two 4h pacers with blue balloons. We start. We cross Gradisca, the bridge over the river Isonzo, Sagrado, Polazzo, Redipuglia, Ronchi de Legionari and Monfalcone: people applaud and encourage. The group behind the pacers is running compact and makes jokes and mess around. But after Redipuglia the sight of the blue balloons annoys me. I decided to speed up a little bit, and I left the group behind.
Then I took advantage of the refreshments: Gatorade, banana pieces, and a few slices of apple tart. I stop and drink with calmness. The first 10 kilometers pass quickly. 30 only are missing.

Fatigue is starting to be felt before Sistiana. In the uphill sections I will naturally accelerate: the workouts I do are never entirely on the floor, for me the most is to run the trails along the beautiful Val Rosandra, breathing in the air much better than the shit that is where I live I, in the industrial area of Trieste. In these areas I overtake different groups of runners; I try not to overdo it. I am better off reducing the pace.

Passed Sistiana it begins the most beautiful area, the Coastal Road. Nice not only because it is downhill, but especially for the view over the area: the Gulf of Trieste. I'm lucky to live in this city: the sea in front and behind the green Karst. We arrive at the crossroads of Miramare, near the Castle.

I am above schedule: about 600m ahead of the virtual partner. If I continue like this, I will finish the first 4 hours. For me it would be a good result. There are only 7 km from the junction to reach the goal of my first marathon: the legs are in risk-cramping. I have to reduce the pace a bit, I take the last refreshment. It is hard to restart, I encourage myself with two "whipping" the thighs. "One, two ... go!"

I am missing one kilometer, but the GPS still gives me missing 2k to the finish. I do not know, something does not come back. Near the train station I increase the pace, overtaking as much runners as I can. I cross the finish line of this wonderful marathon with a time of 4 hours and 50 minutes.
After the goal, although I felt fine until recently, there comes a beautiful fall. Weariness comes suddenly, I walk a bit, but I feel sick and I feel dizzy.

I sit, with difficulty: the legs have become marble. Here come the chills and skinned due to rubbing the shorts. Making 26.2 miles with little training and without paying then the bill was evidently unthinkable.
I got up and sit several times, first on the shade, then on the sun. I spend a couple of hours rather painful. I'm afraid I could not drive the scooter back home but the pain, as they came suddenly disappear so quickly (apart from bruises). Let's see what happens in the coming days.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

2010 Treviso marathon: more than 3000 runners at the 7th edition

At the starting point of the 7th Treviso Marathon, it has been announced more than 3000 runners, representing 22 countries. This confirms the international exposure of one of the top five Italian marathons, often associated with the New York Marathon, in term of quality of organization and attendance from street audience. The oldest marathon runner is 80 years old, while the older woman is 71 years old.

The competition for the first time after several years of growth has show a 22.1% decrease over the number of runners arrived at the finish line. Still above two thousand runners crossed the 26.2 miles finish line on the 14th of March 2010: Treviso is still the fifth marathon in Italy, but deserves for sure an higher spot.

This year all along the Treviso Marathon route, there will be several musical bands to celebrate and the runners. The initiative "Space Music @ Treviso Marathon 2010” is a musical workshop organized for the Marathon: along the first five kilometers musical bands Claymore and Tachipirinha will play, the first Hard Rock music, the latter with blues and rock'n'roll. Then African music will welcome the runners at Ponte Priula, while other bands will animate the last kilometers of the race.

Since 2008, Treviso Marathon is committed to an environmental protection project. The organizers focused on the principle that runners should act in line with environmentally sound behaviors. In areas of departure and arrival, as well as along the path of the Treviso Marathon, this year will be created of the points of collection of waste (paper, plastic, dry, glass, wet) and the materials are then disposed of according to logic maximum environmental protection.
The operators at points of refreshment and sponge stations, as well as in areas of arrival, will indeed have a yellow card, which symbolically warns athletes that do not correctly use the waste containers.

For more details on how the Treviso Marathon looks like, you can take a look at the Treviso Marathon live experience.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010 Frederick II marathon: more than 600 runners at the first edition

According to, at the first edition of the Federico II marathon, the number of partecipants hit the 600 entries. The marathon, organized by the Puglia Imperiale Tourism has taken place today, Sunday, March 7, starting at 9:30 am at the UNESCO site of Castel del Monte. The runners have run through an itinerary that combines sport, nature, environment, arts and tourism, passing through the town of Andria, the Castle of Barletta to arrive at finish close to the Cathedral of Trani.

485 runners have completed the full marathon, positioning the Frederick the second Marathon among the top 20 in Italy (19th as of March 7th 2010). Althought the Fredrick II marathon is also oriented toward international runners and they had representatives from Belgium, from the Royal Athl√®tic Club Louvi√®rois, the 485 partecipants who crossed the finish lined arrived all from Italy, except for the third place holder, Ramzi Ben Sadok, from Maroc.


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