Pouring rain, mud everywhere, countless climbing, great effort exerted but also determination to pursue, nice people, breath-taking views: these simple words reflect my participation in the Firenze Urban Trail 2017. It is an event where nearly 2000 athletes took parts in running amongst the monuments and Florence hills.
All started with a message from Cristina [Cristina Murgia the representative of Organising Committee for this race and also for the Cortina trail where we had the opportunity to know each-other] simply saying
Will you show up in Florence?
Intrigued by these words, I asked for more information and started shortly to be interested in the event. The Cortina Trail itself was my last competitive race in June last year. From that moment, after the necessary recovery, I restarted training but with no precise target.
Therefore, the Firenze Urban Trail represented the ideal challenge considering mainly that: the 58km distance would have been the second longest run I have ever covered after 100km run in December 2015.
The trail is not my touchstone and I have no means to properly train in the city where I live (this has been my second trail competition). Very short time is left. In the end, I accepted! And DubaiBlog became the Media Partner of the event.
The competition was inaugurated on Saturday evening, together with the 13km night race, by the Councillor for Sports of Florence, Andrea Vannucci. The inauguration took place on the stage set up under the Basilica of Santa Croce. I took my place in the first, ready to start the race, I even had the chance to exchange some jokes
There are three races in the program: 13km by night on Saturday, 30km and 45 km on Sunday morning
There was also a challenge (13km by night and 30km by day) and an Ultra challenge (13km by night plus 45 by day). Of course, I opted for the longest distance.
The night race started with 1,000 runners. The event was fully booked and the registration closed. The race started from Santa Croce square under pouring rain. We ran along the city centre streets and passed through the Boboli garden and proceeded towards San Miniato and Michelangelo square. We ran up and down the narrow alleys and roads of Florence.
I let the runners in front outdo me in order to save energy and to give space to an emotional run.
Running at night helps this, we were 1,000 but quite often I had the feeling that I was the only one on the road.
My training in the weeks before the run was “mindful” with the coach Andrea Colombo (www.mentecorpo.it) and was an important part of this participation.
At night I even managed to keep the headlight (one of the compulsory equipment to be carried along) switched off nearly all the time in order to be to let me carried away by the glistening trails in the night.The Second Edition of Florence Urban Walking was performed on part of the 13 km by night route. It is a 10 km track with more than 200 walkers.
In addition to the various intrinsic difficulties, I have to say that I had never participated in a combined competition, with two sessions (the second of which was longer than a classical marathon).
This aspect was exactly one of those which I succeeded to manage the best. In the evening I didn’t push hard, I managed to deliberately follow a slow pace, in order not to stress my legs and save my energy for the following day. My diet before and during the race was adequate to the challenge. Therefore some hours of rest for the necessary recovery.
At 8.30 am I was at the Santa Croce square, ready for the second part of the run. I ran through Settignano, Fiesole, Monte Ceceri and Maiano to come back to the city centre along the banks of the Arno river in a real technical trail, with a height gain of 1,200 metres for the 45km run (about 600 metres for the 30km run), nearby wonderful views and breath-taking panoramas, but also with lots of uphill routes which I was not ready for.
The uncertain weather (the rain which poured at times starting from the evening before) and the wet/slippery/muddy ground made my endeavour even more challenging and were in no way to diminish my enthusiasm. I often asked myself “Is it true that this is an urban race?
This event has increasingly become more appealing to many non-Italians and has witnessed the participation of several foreign runners coming from the U.S.A. , Belgium , Greece…., and there is me, the Italian coming from Dubai .
Another interesting aspect of the Firenze Urban Trail is the money raised for charity by Oxfam, which participated in the race with a team of political asylum seekers who have been welcomed in Florence and Tuscany to participate in the Run As One project together with other refugees.
It is a unique experience to be able to organise a real Trail in a city like Florence and to run in squares and among world-famous monuments and while enjoying the priceless view of the city and its hills.
The Director of the race, Simone Brogioni says
We are satisfied with the success for this fourth edition of Florence Urban Trail. Our particular thanks go to our volunteers who have helped us a great deal in holding this event, and to our sponsors and partners, the Local Council of Florence and Fiesole, and the Municipal police for the commitment
I extend my thanks to the Organising Committee for having invited me and given me the opportunity to be partner of this event, to the volunteers and the staff without whom such big events could never take place, and to my sponsor ‘Monviso water’ for their precious support.