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I WAS ALSO AT 100KM OF PASSATORE - 100 KM del Passatore | Firenze - Faenza

I WAS ALSO AT 100KM OF PASSATORE

I WAS ALSO AT 100KM OF PASSATORE

The 100 km of the Passatore, the famous Florence-Faenza, the oldest of the marathons but also the most beautiful. In this race, I left my heart, I ran it too, yes I too: Antonio IERINO ‘, born in 1953. One hundred kilometers of racing: an unforgettable adventure.

I arrive in Florence at 11.00 am accompanied by my firstborn Anna and her partner Francesco; we reach Piazza Santa Croce and, after a long line of runners, my turn comes; I withdraw my bib number (No. 373). We decide to have lunch at 12.30, we reach a restaurant that Francesco knows well and after about half an hour of waiting, we calmly consume an excellent lunch. However, I only eat rigatoni with fresh tomato and some portions of salad. Time passes: the clock says 14.30 and we go to Piazza della Signoria and precisely in via dei Calzaiuoli (starting point). There are many people and there is a cheerful buzz as if there was a market.

I see the banner with the words “100 Km del Passatore Florence – Faenza 30 -31 May 2009 37th edition” written above it, under it, the organizers’ off-road vehicle with the Passatore’s silhouette on it. I go over and touch it with one hand and a shiver runs through my whole body. I had a feeling that was a combination of fear and courage. I invite Anna to take a picture of me, after wearing the uniform of my running company.

My dream was about to come true, there were just a few seconds left to shoot and I can’t even see Giorgio CALCATERRA, winner of three past editions. 3.00 pm: 1400 bodies of men, women, young and old, two thousand eight hundred nervous legs; a gunshot and go.

Slow start as textbook, a look at the blue sky of Florence: it’s wonderful and I like the energy I feel running through the streets of the center among the monuments. Florence is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I felt peaceful and had a wonderful feeling: I no longer felt anxiety. I had finally taken time for myself and felt happy that I was passionate about something other than my job. That full immersion had been a source of comfort and reflection. I was not alone: ​​I was with many others who shared my same passion.

Despite the screams, the screams, the incitements after the departure, I feel and I can see Anna with a radiant face, as if wrapped in a glow, which, joyfully, calls me and beckons me with both hands, with an unforgettable smile; I reciprocated the greeting and I think how proud it should be of me participating in the most famous marathon in the world.

5 km behind and here is the first ascent to Fiesole. Even under the scorching sun, it is not that hard; I thought about my back pain that hadn’t left me for days, but as if by a miracle it was gone. I was under one of those beautiful sensational skies of late May. The aromatic scent of the hedges reached my nostrils. My eyes were smiling; I had the feeling of being immersed in a current of enthusiasm that dragged me away. The road seemed to me to be dominated. I had abandoned the places of my Lucania: the context had changed. And I had changed too. I felt like another person: I wanted to start again and to throw back pain and difficult moments. But I felt the lack of a friendly voice. I approach a runner, generous with advice and good company. His name is Alfio, he is from Rimini, born in 1951. I listen willingly because this year is the ninth participation: last year he closed with 12 hours, now he wants to try for 11 hours. It was just the friendly voice I was looking for, the right man for me who would help me with his advice because he knew the way and his difficulties, who would keep me company, supported and encouraged to go on and then he had my same goal : 11 am. With Alfio by my side I felt safe, as protected from all that the path would have reserved for me. His elbow that touched mine was like a real hold for me.

I was happy to have found a travel companion who had many things in common with me: he had the same roadmap that I had carefully prepared. I had the perception that the figure of the mythical “Passatore” had incarnated in him, the man who encourages and lymph to all its participants. The race went on without problems. We are about to reach Fiesole: it was as if I were flying, suddenly I see before my eyes the silhouette of the “Passatore” the same one that I had touched on the off-road vehicle of the organizers. I shake my head and ask myself, “Am I dreaming? “The eyes fill with tears as soon as they see the intermediate goals on the printed path. I trusted Alfio and my shoes, they too, wetsuits, travel companions. I was quiet, he didn’t want anything except to do it. While I kept my face down, my mind was examining the way, Alfio was always at my side and I was imitating him in his gait. I felt like I was in a beautiful dream. Suddenly, alas, my dream was interrupted by Alfio’s cry. He tells me that he is experiencing excruciating pain in the ankle of his right foot and immediately interrupts the speedy run. We stop for 10 minutes, some massages, we start again slowly, very slowly, alternating the race with slow walks. The pain did not give him respite and after so much effort, always enduring the pain, we arrive in Borgo San Lorenzo (almost 35 km.). I ask for the doctor’s intervention and an ambulance. They intervene with some splashes of a liquid from a spray. Another 10 minutes lost. I was thinking about the time factor but now the human factor had taken over in my heart which was filled with an overdose of solidarity. It was more important to me to help Alfio. I was in no hurry anymore: I wanted to do something for my friend. The pain and despair, which seemed invincible, could be read on the destroyed face. I didn’t mind the time that passed inexorably. Alfio tries to leave again, but this time he gives up because he can’t and, with a grimace of pain, he decides to retire, urging me to leave alone, wishing me a “good luck”.

I felt like I was briefly losing support. I was hesitant, but Alfio insisted and had managed, despite my opposition, to get what he wanted. I greet him, with all the anger that had broken loose in me for losing a travel companion.

I will always remember Alfio, for his reserve and his suffering. I set off with my sad thoughts for the Passo della Colla and face the whole 15 km climb without stopping at the refreshment points. I was in the middle of the Apennines and I didn’t mind the cold of the coming night ..

I was afraid, but it was also a stimulus to go on. I felt lost in that immensity. I had no choice I had to make up for lost time: I overtook groups and groups of dozens of other runners who preferred to walk with fatigue, at a slow pace. Others stopped massaging their legs or stretching. It was the first time that I ran at night and I said to myself that the night smelled good. My heart had warmed, after recent events, to a new impetus to a new balance. Passo della Colla di Casaglia (about 50 km) one minute stop at the refreshment point and off along the descent. I meet Anna and my son-in-law Massimiliano who ask me if I want to change clothes and shoes; without stopping, I answer them no and encourage them to go on and wait for me after 10 km. I realize that I’m running too fast; I am reminded of the advice of veteran Alfio: “on the slopes you have to go slowly, without exaggerating, otherwise you can pay the consequences”. And gradually I slow down. Behind me, I hear footsteps approaching. Out of the corner of my eyes I see another runner. He almost comes to touch me and asks me if we can run together. I have a moment’s hesitation, my thoughts go to Alfio and his humanity and with great joy I reply with a “yes, willingly”.

We introduce ourselves. Angelo is a forty year old, also on his first experience. He would have been my new travel companion for the remaining 50 km. On his face was the disappointment of not having met a veteran of the course. He informs me that the president of his association and other members, one of whom is ahead of us, also participate with him. The president and two others were behind at a distance of 2 km for leg problems. All are part of the “athletic association of Ceprano”. With Angelo there is also a friend of his accompanied with a bicycle. We exchange jokes. At the 65th km the accompanying friend reports to Angelo that the president and a partner stopped at a refreshment and asked for an ambulance to intervene and had decided to withdraw. This news has a bad effect on Angelo who begins to get discouraged from the 70th km. Slow down, stop and exclaim: Antonio, you continue, I can’t take it anymore. I answer him: Excuse me Angelo, what hurts you? Nothing answers but I feel that I no longer have the strength to continue. I invite him to reflect: see Angelo, you cannot retire now that we have already covered about 75 km, we have the race in hand, don’t think about your friends, now it’s up to you to reach the finish line and feel proud to represent yours association, you have to do it. I had a round of applause from his friend on his bike and after a few seconds of silence Angelo said to me: OK let’s go on, but we have to run slowly rather slowly. Again the human factor had priority in me. Again I felt that excessive dose of human solidarity in my heart. I could not leave it to its fate. Although at my first experience, I expose my tactic to Angelo: every 5 km of running, we had to alternate 3 minutes of slow walking without thinking about his friends anymore, but having only one goal: the 100 km goal. Let’s start with our fears. Every now and then they call me back, making me notice that I run too much and slow down. At 90 ° km we reach the other his partner Luigi who ran ahead. He is also very tired, ready to retire. I realize that I have a mission to accomplish: to bring them all to the finish line. I lavish advice and encouragement. After a while Luigi tells me I’m great that after my words he feels he can do it.

I still realize that everyone needs to make a titanic effort to get to the finish line, tired as they are. The more time passes, the greater the risk of my tendinitis waking up. But I didn’t feel tired. All together we decided to dare the biggest gamble. Angelo occasionally approached me and whispered to me with a thread of voice: Antonio go ahead, you deserve to arrive before us. I answer him with a “no”, dry, “I will not abandon you”. We overtake a group of runners who now, exhausted, prefer to walk slowly as veterans of a battle now lost. As if to give them an injection of energy and vitality, I would like to point out that we are now at the 95th km, now there is little missing. They also read it on the table. Filling me with praise for my behavior as for rewarding me they tell me they want to go on. But Luigi wants to walk and not run. I accept your decision. They were exhausted, they lacked the strength, but they clenched their teeth in a last attempt at resistance. After other minutes of extreme effort I exclaim: Angelo see the writing “Last Km” come on, we did it, Piazza del Popolo is waiting for us at the end of the curve! My heart was full of joy. By helping the atria I had understood how much better it was to give than to receive.

I had discovered the value of patience, endurance, solidarity, acceptance of difficulties. This is the race that I want to keep inside of me forever. Before passing over the finish line I embrace Angelo and with my hand on his shoulders we pass the finish line after 12 hours and 37 minutes. We seemed to have come out of a circle of Dante’s hell. The emotion was indescribable. Our faces were about to fall to the ground but we felt supported by hands that took ours. We had it! Luigi will arrive after 13.37.31.

Yes I was really great, I was looking for a travel companion, full of experiences to finish this famous and grueling marathon, I had found him in Alfio for only 35 km but fate meant that I met another companion who was also on his first experience which allowed me to put at my disposal my modest experience, my temperance, audacity, obstinacy, my solidarity and to reach with the only strength of my mind the goal of the fateful 100th km that my wife and my three children believed that were unreachable for me.

Thanks Alfio, thanks Angelo. The three “A” Alfio-Angelo-Antonio.

The legendary “Passatore”, which I have always felt by my side, has already invited me for the next edition. I accepted. And you?

Antonio Ierino’

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