× Ritorna la 49^ edizione della 100km del Passatore - 25-26 maggio 2024
THE 100 KM OF PASSATORE - 100 KM del Passatore | Firenze - Faenza



The thing is very simple.

It is just a matter of bringing your own pile of bones, muscles and tendons from one place to another, 100 km away.

Nothing more, nothing less.

In short, a linear thing that does not require intelligence or particular aptitudes, does not require great skills or technique, such as, I know, a nice tennis answer, or a volley at the intersection of the poles.

It only requires decent legs, a hard head, and of course the urge to do it.

This is what you think while you fasten your shoes half an hour before the start of the race, sitting on a marble step, in a side alley in via dei Calzaiuoli, on the splendid afternoon of May in Florence.

Florence is splendid, on this sunny afternoon, warm but not sultry, but you have something else on your mind.

You are calm, with that particular calm that precedes the moments before departure, when the games are already done, and you can no longer back down. The excitement and tension were tempered in the anticipation of the days before, and in the good dinner in the Fiesole inn, also accomplices two bottles of red that you took out together with Sergio, who accompanied you together with Susanna, and that you they will assist and encourage all night, during the race (thank you !!).

Around three in the afternoon, the people of the runners assemble in via dei Calzaiuoli …. we are just under 1300, and, we know, one in four of us here at the start will not arrive at the bottom: on average they arrive about 900 or a little more in Faenza.

We look around each other, crowded near the street line, and everyone thinks to himself that he will be … the other … not making it … not you, of course, and try to convince yourself. of what you think.

After all, this race is all in your head, in the belief that you have, rather than your legs, that you already know inadequate from the start.

But in fact, nobody knows for sure, there at the start, what will happen, and in such a long race anything can happen and happen to you, from the deep crisis, to the banal sprain, and even a weak foot, or an irritation of the skin, they become painful and can ruin the outcome of the race.

There are all kinds, there at the start … from machos with lightning and oiled muscles, to those very technical and harnessed clothes as if they had to face the sahara, up to vigorous “old men”, who, I’m almost sure, with step slow but steady, they will arrive in Faenza with more probability and before me …

And you are there too, neither “professionals”, nor tough, but who tries anyway.

Trained you are not trained, you have not even had the time, not to mention the necessary constancy, but you count on the head, that you carry on even when the body will not take it anymore, and try to convince yourself of this.

You have an outstanding account, with the Passatore’s 100 km, since last year, the first time you attempted it, when at the 73rd km, at three in the morning, after 12 hours of running and running, you had to abandon in the grip of a heavy hypoglycaemic crisis. And it annoys you, you don’t like having outstanding accounts.

It is not even important the time that you will make, but only the fact that you will make it.

If you can do it ……

In this particular race, but in all the races, you don’t run against anyone, you run against yourself, rather you run for yourself.

Three o’clock in the afternoon … the start is given, and the colored snake of the runners moves …. the top runners start, on top of the snake, those, and the one above all, who will then remain at the top of the race from the beginning in the end, winning it and completing it in less than seven hours …. but those are people from another planet, people from Mars.

Then all the others move, the Earthlings like you ….. first slowly for the crowding, and then finally, by loosening the legs in the first run, the middle and back ones also move, the crazy and brave “peones” that tempt us anyway.

The start is the most exciting moment, after that of the finish line, of course.

We parade between two wings of the crowd through the streets of the center of Florence, applauded and encouraged … we were all “champions”, at that moment, if only for the fact of being there, of being there and of leaving, of having tried, although in fact, and we who are parading through the crowd know it, we will be, “champions” only if we go all the way.

And you too run among them, in the ears, shot by the mp3 player, the “Haka” of the All Blacks, exciting at the start, and then the “Start Me Up” of the Rolling Stones, as the first pieces of the soundtrack that will accompany you for many hours.

Immediately after exiting Florence the climb to Fiesole is tackled … at 30 degrees … after the first 6 or 7 km of running, most of them keep up, you know that in a 100 km run the important thing is to save energy … and it is useless to waste and burn them in the first km, more uphill: the main trick is to dose yourself, to save yourself, even if at the beginning you feel you can run much more, and the applauding crowd and still fresh legs make you want to move … but later, later on, you know, it won’t be like that, and if you waste yourself immediately, you won’t have any more for later.

The race is at the beginning, there are still large groups of runners, and it is a colorful and playful brigade, which faces the climb to Fiesole, talking and encouraging each other. The mp3 pumps “light” beats, like “Sweet Home Chicago”, “Louie Louie”, “Kiss” by Prince, “Feeling Alright” by Joe Cocker, and so on … so as not to go too far already at the start, despite the desire to run.

Reached Fiesole, and overtaken in about an hour the approximately 500 meters in altitude of the first hill, the road finally descends to Borgo San Lorenzo, and here you return to run, still fresh, taking advantage of the favorable slope and flat sections .

The road winds through beautiful landscapes of the Tuscan countryside, stops at refreshments to drink to recover liquids, but the big group is already starting to melt and slip off. You arrive at the Borgo San Lorenzo check, which you pass at the rhythm of “Kids” by Robbie Williams and the first 30 km are gone, in just under four hours: but this was only the most beautiful and easy part of the race.

Continue to Ronta, where the climb to the Colla di Casaglia pass begins.

The pace alternates with the jog, and the initial group no longer exists, it has already broken up into small groups, or singles, that you meet along the way, each at their own pace, and that, when they have a step similar to yours they become, for at least a few kilometers, your road companions, sometimes cheerful, sometimes silent and concentrated … from now on it becomes practically a truly lonely race. The road is mostly gently sloping or flat, and you start to see the Apennine hills in the distance …. you look at them, 10 km away, and you know you will have to overcome them … yet they still seem so far away , and you wonder when that damned ascent will begin ….. but “It’s Only Rock and Roll”, baby ….. and “I love Rock and Roll”, as Joan Jett reminds you.

Ronta …. the village of Ronta … about 35 km from Florence … here the climb begins the Passo della Colla, 900 and passes meters …. and there is no way, with your poor training , to try to run this climb … and then you put yourself in a good hole and start to climb at a walking pace, one hairpin after another for two hours and it passes … and meanwhile the evening falls, and you hear the first “crisis”, that due to the combined effect of dusk, the drop in serotonin, fatigue for the 40 km already covered. You also pass the signal of 42.198 Km, the official distance of the marathon, the maximum distance that you usually have ever traveled .. after that, as they say, “hic sunt leones”, the unknown, are your personal columns of hercules , you don’t know what can be or happen beyond ……. but at least to the top of the hill you have to get there.

And so hairpin after hairpin, go up, in the dark now, for hours that seem interminable, and hairpin bends that follow each other deceiving: all appear as the last except to see immediately after another. The soundtrack gets a little psychedelic with songs like “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Jumping Jack Flash” by Stones, or “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull.

And then here comes the end of the climb, finally, the check point of the Colle di Casaglia, the top of the hill, and then there you gather your strength and run, the last hundreds of meters, and pass the detection point … .balling “Boogie Wonderland” by Brittany Murphy from “Happy Feet”.

Ten in the evening, seven hours and loose change for about 50 km and you’re on top of that damned, beautiful, hill, finally! The first, the one who won the race, is already in the shower, and you still have to do 50 Km …

Mistake …. you did it the first time, so relax., Don’t do it again .. the mistake of thinking that the hardest part has passed, that you made the climb, you passed the top of the hill, you are halfway and now it’s all downhill ….. the false security that gives you to have reached the top of the hill, the feeling of having “done” the race, you fuck, and it is precisely here that you have to control yourself, and measure yourself, it is from now on you will be asked for maximum physical effort and maximum determination. Because the most difficult part will be the next 50 km, not the first 50 …. and those who believe that running downhill is easier and more restful, are very mistaken …. last year you didn’t know and you were fucked “melting” at the 73rd, but now you know it, and therefore, you are ready, as Satriani says, “Movin on”.

A coffee and a cigarette, and off we go. Adelande, hombre, but with Judicio!

The first 15 – 20 km after the Colla di Casaglia spin that is a pleasure …. well, so to speak …. you are charged and motivated, in the ears the electric guitar solos of Jimi’s “100 greatest guitars solos” Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and others …… so charged and motivated that you have to give yourself a set so as not to push too hard and not to melt the engine …. you feel strong because you have passed the hill, and the descent, here very leaning, it favors the momentum … but the downhill race destroys the muscles, tends and tears the quadriceps, puts strain on the knees and ankles, and after a couple of hours you notice it, you start to feel the legs REALLY sore , from the thighs down, which in comparison the climb was zero, and the whole body begins to be felt, back, shoulders and also, when it is beaten step by step by the repercussions of the downhill race ……… “Hit The Road Jack”, Ray Charles tells you in the ears, and you do it, hit the road, step by step.

Marradi check point, 65 km, 10 hours and small change of running and running. Stop for coffee and cigarette, at the rescue point. When you get up to throw your shot glass, take a look inside the restaurant: about twenty cots, with as many runners lying on top, under the brown blankets, typical of prompt intervention. You do not know whether to envy them or not, they, finally, lying still and warm …. you certainly know that if you lay down on the cot, under a blanket, you would not leave again. Even now, in stops of more than ten minutes, it is difficult to leave, and if you just sit for a while, getting up requires a lot of effort! The only thing that makes you run again is the chills that attack you if you stop too much … the only way to let them pass is precisely, to move, to run, until it warms up, and “You Gotta Move” of the Aerosmith reminds you.

Three in the morning, and 12 hours that you’re on the move. You pass the 73 th km, the one where you gave up your arms last year, exhausted by the hypoglycaemic crisis. You pass in front of the cabin of the level crossing, where you collapsed shivering, the blood sugars cleared, and you called Sergio to tell him that you had stopped, that there was no more, that you were sick and to come and get you … you get there in a rush, at that point, but when you pass it you slow down … and you raise both hands, your clenched fist, your two middle fingers straight to the sky … fuck you, this time you don’t fuck me!

“I Get Knocked Down, but I get Up Again, U Never Going To Keep Me Down” by Smash Mouth.

And then start running again.

The crisis. You tried it, and you fear it. It is as if your engine stops, you begin to feel an intense cold, chills that shake you from the depths, a cold that almost burns, but a cold that does not come from outside, a cold that comes from INSIDE you, and that blankets or whatever you put on doesn’t appease. Zero sugars, a weakness from fainting, and there is nothing to do, you have to stop. This time you prepared yourself better, but you are never sure …. and the problem is that after 70 km, and severals gatorades, and some bread and jam, etc., you are unable to throw anything down, your stomach it’s jelly, and the only thing that saves your skin is the gel carbohydrate sachets. They have a lousy taste, it seems to drink cough syrup, but they are probably the ones that save you from the crisis … you squeeze one in your throat every 5-10 km, to hell with stomach acid, and only then can you make up for the 7,000 – 8,000 calories that are required of you tonight. Those bags of carbohydrates, coffee and a few cigarettes, and shots

forward ….. wandering in the night, in the dark, on the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, to the sound of “Road Runner” by Aerosmith, and the beautiful guitar solo of “Sweet Jane” by Velvet Underground.

By now you are alone, the group has broken down, and in the group’s queue, where you are, you only meet people every now and then, wandering, tired of tiredness, in the night … we meet like ghosts, without even wanting to talk , mumbling to the utmost an encouragement to each other, dictated by the silent solidarity of those who suffer together … are magical, strange hours … accompanied only by the intermittent glitter of fireflies in the woods … hours when you think of everything and nothing … hours and a particular moment in which, as few times in daily life, you are REALLY alone with yourself.

Everyday problems, work, stress … are far away. You are in another world, focused on yourself and what you are doing, as if what you are doing is the only thing in the world to do and think. And in fact at that moment it is.

Billy Idol’s “Dancing by Myself” and Steepwolfe’s “Born to Be Wild” accompany you as you wander through the magical and strange night, your night.

One foot forward the other, step after another, in the night, only this, with a cadence that seems to never end, even if each step is fatigue, and also suffering …. the muscles that protest, and ache every time you raise your legs, yet after one step another comes, and so you move forward, meter by meter, km after km …

There is suffering in all this, but also full awareness of yourself, and of your whole body, absolutely everything, every muscle, organ, cartilage and tendon. You wonder how strange it is that in suffering you acquire certain degrees of self-awareness, and self-awareness, much more than, for example, in pleasure. When you suffer you are conscious, pain makes you aware of things that you take for granted, or that you don’t usually mind … a toothache, for example, makes you fully aware of that tooth, which has been in your mouth for years, without that you never thought about it or looked after it. While in pleasure you cancel and get lost, just as in certain oriental philosophies you cancel yourself to become part of a whole, or of the cosmos. It is for this reason that some people are dedicated to masochism, taking this reasoning to the extreme, just as, for similar but opposite reasons, the French call orgasm the “petit mort”, the little death, which instead at the moment of maximum pleasure you lose consciousness of yourself and you cancel … anyway, to hell with these nocturnal ramblings dictated by tiredness and loneliness ….. whether it’s pain or pleasure, you’re there, you’re there, you’re ALIVE.

“Wanted, Dead or Alive,” as Bon Jovi says.

The endless hours of the night go by …. four, five, six in the morning … while you run or marched, tired from tiredness … and you see the dawning of a cloudy dawn that promises rain.

After 80 km the legs are really gone. They are just a sore heap of muscles, bones and tendons, which you move forward only with willpower. And not only are the legs aching now … from the neck down you are all a pain, the shoulders even ache and are sore, and the hips complain with every movement. You have a slack, you feel it, under your left foot, as big as a euro coin. But it is the least of your worries and your ills … Maybe you could still run, but it’s not worth it … the speed you would have would be from “jogging” not from racing, just slightly higher than the pace of gear you still hold.

And in addition you would have the risk, with your legs so tanned, to get a knee or a ligament … god forbid that it hurts you in the last 20 Km! By now you don’t stop for refreshment: you squeeze a sachet of carbohydrates into your mouth, and go on: at this point, after 14 hours, the important thing is to get rid of it!

It’s the real, deep, absolute tiredness, what you feel now, amplified by the most difficult hours, those from dawn, and from 80 km behind you … but you have to “Walk This Way”, like DMC & Aerosmth they remember, “Where the Streets Have No Name”.

This is the moment when you say to yourself “I finish it, I made one, and ok, never, never again!” … but inside you know that afterwards, when the pains have passed, you will think differently, you will be even a different person than before, no matter how little they are … and sooner or later you will want to do it again.

Last 10 Km … it’s raining, not strong but it’s raining, but you don’t give a damn. You carry on, and it doesn’t seem true to have 90 Km behind you, and only 10 in front. Do not run, but do not give way, which remains supported. And one after another, even the last 10 cursed pass.

Here is the endless straight line that leads to the center of Faenza, almost seven in the morning, and 16 hours of running and walking. By now you have arrived, stretch your pace, you feel different …. walk the straight with “Wild Thing” by Joan Jett, and then “Knock Knock On Heaven Doors” by Gun’s and Roses who give you the charge, at a long pace and relaxed, almost dancing, and smiling and greeting the few Sunday morning Faentines, who applaud and encourage you when they see you pass as if you had arrived first and not among the last.

Last km, and it seems like a dream.

Attack “Top Gun” by Joe Satriani an apotheosis of electric guitar, for the last 700-500 meters … and do what you wanted to do: after 99 km, after more than 16 hours, you start running, shooting, at your maximum, for the last hundreds of meters, Joe Satriani shot the ball in the ears …

You don’t feel bad anymore, your legs move loose, your step is relaxed, and you pass two or three competitors in a sprint, but you don’t care, it’s not for the ranking, we are all “good”, it’s for yourself that you’re running the latter hundreds of meters ….

The policeman at the barriers that close the arrival square, at two hundred meters sees you arriving and encourages and applauds you as if you were the first, and not among the last … a service policeman on Sunday morning at seven, one who it should have its balls full of being there, because of you in addition, yet it applauds and encourages you! what magnificent people, what magnificent race!

And finally you see the arrival … and your heart beats wildly … stretch your pace and run run run …. 200 meters. 100 meters … 50 meters … the white line! Here it is you see it there in front of you !!

And the running steps ….. 100 KM!

16 hours and 21 minutes … certainly not a champion time, you have about 800 of them arrived before you and less than two hundred after you, but you don’t care.

It only matters that you have arrived, that you have made it, and, above all, that it is over, over, over …. you repeat yourself like a mantra.

Just after passing the finish line, you stop, you bend over, your hands on your knees, and you can only think that you did it, and we need nothing to burst into tears, from tiredness, or from emotion , or both of them together, so much so that you can’t even speak when the girls in the organization put your medal around your neck, right after they arrive.

Then only the tiredness, the real and absolute one, the adrenaline that drops to zero, the lactic acid that rises to a thousand, and an intense cold that makes you shiver.

You can’t even change, and so, with the same clothes you’ve been running for the last seven to eight hours, you pass out on the back seat of the car, a blanket thrown on you, while Sergio and Susanna bring you home.

When you wake up, on the highway near Parma, everything already seems a bit far away, a bit of a dream, if there were no legs to remind you: you find it hard even to get out of the car and walk, and it will take two days before that go back to being almost “normal”.

You did, and you almost don’t believe it. but you did it, and it’s one of those things, which, as they say in the movies, “nobody can ever take you away”.

In some way, perhaps even imperceptible to others, nothing will be the same as before, not even yourself.

And in the end, one would be asked …. why? why do such a thing?

One could answer why running is an atavistic activity, written in our genes, since our ancestors wandered in the African savannas, and the ability to run made the difference between starving and a full stomach, between life and death. A simple thing, yet so essential, and sublime.

Or you could answer what you thought last year, after having run 73 Km of the Passatore for the first time, when, on the Sunday after the race, you found yourself in line at IKEA, with a stupid colored plastic container in your hand. .. you sure that weekend you were more rested than the one before, passed on the Apennines, you hadn’t done shit like trying to run 100 km ….. but maybe you felt better, and, above all, more alive, like this, queuing at IKEA, on a “regular” Saturday afternoon, when did you trudge on the hill?

But in reality, if he asked you: “Why the hell would anyone ever want to run for 100 Km?”

You would answer: “Oh that? Nothing special Darling .. just because if you were 100 km away from me, behind a hill, and there was no other way to reach you than my legs and my will, and you called me .. . well, now I know for sure, I could come to you “.

Alessandro Pisoni

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