On the day of my hit-and-run bike accident I got an email from my friend Vito Palmiotti who works for the company 3M (think post-its!) in Milan. He’s full of enthusiasm for running and has spread the love to his colleagues by creating a running team of more than sixty employees. The Milan 3M headquarters has a private park behind the office building, perfect for lunchtime or after work runs.
Vito told me about a colleague and fellow runner, Corrado Bonavita, whose family had been in a hit-and-run accident last spring. Sadly, his son Elio did not survive and his wife was still in the hospital months later. The running group had decided to organize a charity run to raise awareness for hit-and-run accidents which seem to be increasing at an alarming rate in Italy.
I was lying in my hospital bed waiting for my arm operation with no idea where I’d be in September but I knew I had to be at this event. Who’d have guessed that seven weeks later I’d be driving myself to Milan with running shoes on my feet!
The 3M team set up a six kilometre course for the Corro per Elioevent in their running park. It was a Friday evening after work and the atmosphere was relaxed. No pre-race tension, just lots of hugs and smiles.
They asked me to say a few words while everybody was getting to the start. I talked about coincidences, Vito’s email and my own accident – I spoke forty seconds tops.
What I didn’t talk about was that my own mother had been killed by a hit and run when I was ten years old, and fifteen years later I lost my younger brother in a car accident. They’re episodes that not only had an enormous impact on my life but also shaped who I am. It’s why my own accident had a bigger emotional impact than it may have had on someone else. It’s why I felt I had to go to Corro per Elio.
Okayyyyyy. Back to the event…
The course was a winding path through woods with a mix of pavement and dirt. It’s still really hot here in Italy so the woodsy smell of plants and leaves was intoxicating.
I started out walking. Then threw in a few minutes of running and before I knew it I was passing people and running steady.
I loved the relaxed, friendly family atmosphere. It felt a lot like events I’d done in the 90’s when nobody was too concerned about their speed, GPS gadgets or posting live on Facebook. Just an old fashioned run, short and sweet.
The “sweeper” at the back of the pack even brought a broom. I had a drink of water and then went to say goodbye to Corrado and Vito. They did a fantastic job for this first memorial race with about 350 participants. A really beautiful way to commemorate Elio Bonavita’s life.