Finally … “I was there!”.

I had had it told a thousand times during the Sunday races and already through those stories I had experienced the enthusiasm, the small sufferings, the human charge of those who had already run “The Passer” and every time I heard about it I felt a particular shiver.

Finally I lived this adventure in first person and I want to tell you what I think, not so much because I believe I have something new to say, but because the experiences of others always enrich us.

Today is Monday, the day after, and I can assure you that I have already forgotten the fatigue and sleep of the last kilometers of straight that never ended. I would be ready to leave; I believe that this is already in itself the proof that guarantees that running this “Hundred” is worthwhile, that the effort is abundantly rewarded and that only the positive aspects are remembered: the meeting with a lot of still healthy, enthusiastic humanity, selflessly satisfied with the small satisfaction of a word, an encouragement, an applause. In those moments discover only the best face in the world!

The “walk” was wonderful: the departure from Piazza della Signoria in Florence is already a scenario that speaks for itself.

Lots of crowds, many participants, young and old, robust or small, athletic physicists and others less gifted, but all with anxiety and the desire to run and get there. Then the departure, a little slow due to the significant number of participants and finally off, along the avenue leading to the Fiesolana. Then the climb, everyone takes his step and off with so much energy. The jokes, the jokes like “But how much is missing?”, “How far do we get?”, “Only 99 km left. and then we are there ”, they are on the lips of many and it is a way like any other to take charge, to take courage, while others prefer to keep silent. But a few kilometers were enough and the tension eased and the race with yourself together with the others started.

First stage Vetta Le Croci and here the first supplies and the first change of clothing; we are already very sweaty, the sun is always high and the landscape beautiful, the first who knows where they will be…, but we are as calm as during Sunday races and this is very important. Second stop: Borgo San Lorenzo, also here refueling with hot tea and biscuits, a few massages (assistance is excellent); we are at dusk, the temperature has dropped and we must cover ourselves. In the dark, the march becomes more evocative, the landscape becomes fairytale and man and nature identify themselves, merge and blend into a harmonious whole. The most fascinating stretch for me was that of the Passo della Colla and then down to Casaglia. The silence reigned at times deep and in order not to upset it we kept silent; sometimes you could hear the singing of crickets and the rustling of the foliage. In the dark, some fireflies that arrived early seemed to point the way as the torches of the walkers turned on and off. The moon, where’s the moon? we asked ourselves every now and then looking at the suggestive contours of the surrounding hills, but the moon was nowhere to be seen, on the contrary the weather had changed and the fog enveloped us when the Pass was not far away. This sudden change actually aroused some concern, but after the pass the sky was clear again and together with the stars, finally here is the moon to accompany us until dawn. We had left Tuscany and the sunny Romagna of the courteous Passator welcomed us. More silence and poetry; everyone observes, contemplates, there are no words to describe what one feels. We go on, the darkness seems to hide us and the day is hard to come, but with the first light of dawn we almost regain consciousness, we think about how far we have traveled and how much remains to be overcome and, almost to comfort us, there is no lack of the warm caress of the sun. With the sun, however, at least for me, drowsiness is lurking: about 12 km are missing. and it will take me more than two hours to cover them! After the first straight, the second and Piazza del Popolo, almost a mirage, awaits us. The mirage gradually becomes reality, I am moved: the Piazza is crowded, I gather all my strengths that do not disappoint me, because the enthusiasm, I assure you, performs miracles and I manage to arrive and get on stage running; I’ve done it ! I am happy and content with myself, but it is not all my merit, therefore, after thanking the good God, I also thank all those who have trusted and helped me in the preparation.

Maria Luisa Cerri Tognelli

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