There is no reason to run the 100km del Passatore

May 29, 2014 in IO C'ERO, NEWS

 

By Matteo Timoncini (#877)

 

As the title says, there is no reason to run the 100km.

Let me explain. It’s not that there is “not even one valid reason” to run it. Just the opposite, there is “not only one”.

The reasons for which over 2,000 people decide to face an inhuman trial such as the ultra marathon of the Passare are as many as the participants who present themselves at the start at via dé Calzaiuoli in Florence, or even more.

Obviously they share in common the general will to overcome a challenge that many consider impossible. However, this is not what struck me. What did was the fact that for many, in fact I believe for all of them, the challenge is full of personal significance.

I believe that the “100” is a vessel that each one fills with his or her motivations.

Do not believe that a beautiful countryside is enough to face 100kms running, besides the thousands more of training. While the countryside is fantastic, it is better appreciated during a picnic in good company. Do not believe that the satisfaction of receiving a medal or diploma suffices. Just as it is not enough to meet new friends, or to pass a weekend in a way outside the norm.

This is all part of what will in the future become an indelible part of our memories. But it is not part of what is needed to get to via dé Calzaiuoli.

In other words, it needs something that clicks in the depths of the soul.

For many athletes, these motivations can be seen from the first glance. There is the activist runner who wears a t-shirt proclaiming a political/environmental cause. There are those who promote fundraising for cancer research. Or the one who seems he will do anything to trip you up as he tries to overtake you, until you realize that in reality he is blind and will run the race holding on to the arm of the runner guide at his side. Hats off to him(her).

There is even the one who at first glance seems the funniest of the lot, but I guarantee you that he has more than solid motivations. I do not wish to offend, but objectively, you would expect to find an elderly, pot bellied gentleman with a tricolor wig and a red skirt that Minnie Mouse would wear at Munich’s Oktoberfest and not in the “Florence-Faenza”.

However, you can read on the t-shirt worn by the ancient clown “I am Aldo’s grandfather” just above a photo posed by a months old child happily wearing diapers.

Well, I don’t know who Aldo is, or if something happened to him, but suddenly my perplexity vanishes at the evidence of what is undoubtedly the most valid reason to run 100kms, even at 70 years of age and dressed as a clown.

Then there are the more reserved participants. Those who do not wave their reasons like a flag. Maybe they have made the intention of running the “100” a sort of rite of purification for a series of problems, difficulties or worries. Or of others that I guarantee may not have any.

Because the “world’s most beautiful 100km” does not in itself give you enough motivation to reach Faenza and maybe not even to present yourself at the start.

Nor would your legs alone, nor the music that many manage to listen to despite the ban, thanks to miniature listening devices. And not even the mineral salts or food that you find in abundance at the refreshment stations.

I will tell you even more. Not only does the “100” not give you the enough motivation to race it, it even tries to take away from you those motivations that gave you the courage to present yourself.

It does so in more or less subtle ways. With the climb of the hills of Fiesole which begin to give you a taste of the fatigue and the first muscular of arterial pains what insinuate themselves in your mind the fear of not making it. With the more than 900m of altitude at the Passo della colla. With the problems of digestion due to the prolonged movement. With the mental and physical tiredness that could make you despair reaching even  ahandful of kilometres from the finishing line. With the dark and the cold that make you lose your points of reference and distort your sensations.

It will be a mental trial that you must face stripped to the bone with only your motivations shielding you.

And it is for this very reason that cutting the finishing line in Faenza will be a unique emotion. This may be why they call the Passatore the “world’s most beautiful 100km”.