I’ve been working for Venicemarathon since 1998. The yearly trek to the laguna is a mix of excitement for the marathon adrenaline along with a pinch of nostalgia for the various years and marathons editions that come and go.
Venicemarathon is definitely one of the most well organised events on the Italian running scene. Every volunteer knows their role and most of them keep the same one year in and year out. On marathon morning when I go about my routine of bringing the pacers to the start and then making my way back to the finish I see the same faces in their places. I love it.
I work with Stefano and Miky at the expo on Friday and Saturday, presenting the race course and doing various interviews. I love working with them because after five years together we have our routine down and only need a few small adjustments each year. Plus, they both have easygoing personalities and there are never any problems, just solutions.
This year I added in a few interviews with our marathon pacers. One of them was Stefano Nalesso, an ultra-marathon and trail runner who does crazy events like the Spartathlon in Greece. He said his secret to running so many miles is that his body has instant recovery. Wish I had that too, but sadly I need loads of recovery… as do most marathon mortals!
The day before the marathon I have a group meeting with the pacers. They all have plenty of experience but it’s important to really become a group and the only way to do that is to get together in one space and communicate. I have to say that this was one of the best groups I’ve ever had. Some were “new” to me while others were runners that had already paced for me and I knew I could count on. When there’s good communication it’s really easy to work.
If you ran Venicemarathon on Sunday you’ll know that you had perfect weather conditions. Not too cold, not too hot with low humidity and clear blue skies. Every photo taken was gorgeous and “picture perfect”. Villa Pisani at the start was beautiful with hint of sunrise on the facade.
The pacers know their job so there’s no shouting or last minute instructions. Just lots of smiles and making sure they have the right coloured balloons! We took this photo in the preparatory tent because once they get outside all the nervous marathoners start following them around and it’s too difficult to get another group photo. I love this one because they’re coated in rainbow colours.
From the start I make my way back to the finish line within an hour by crossing the Brenta river by a little boat, getting in one of the organisation’s bus to Piazzale Roma and then a taxi-boat to the finish line. I watch the race on the big screen then wait for the first runner to come in.
That first place runner was Mamo Ketema Behailu from Ethiopia. He ran most of the race out front by himself so a well deserved win.
The first Venicemarathon pacers came in at 2:50, right on time. All the other eleven groups were smack on time too.
In the three hour group along with the pacer was Stefano Benatti (bib nr.100) so the dude not only worked the expo for two days but then he went and cranked out a sub three hour marathon!
Along with my work with the organisation I’d also trained runners for the race. I can’t put all of them up but I wanted to mention a few of them that I’m so proud of. I consider “fast” and “slower” runners to be exactly the same. They have different needs, both in training and mental preparation, but it takes just as much energy to train. Gianluca (on the left) ran his first marathon after a few years of me training him for half marathons. He ran with the first women and arrived at the finish line in 2:39:57. He his the sweetest most gracious guy you’ll ever meet and he had the biggest smile at the finish line.
The ladies on the right were also running their first marathon. They all came in between 4:37 and 5:20. They’re from my women’s group that I coach here in Modena and even though they felt like they weren’t ready for the marathon I knew they were. I gave them a slight kick in the rear to sign up and I think you can tell from those smiles that they had an awesome race.
Inspired to get out and run? I know I am. If you are at all thinking about running a marathon in Italy, Venicemarathon is having their 30th anniversary next October. Go. Sign. Up. Now!