Sunday, November 27, 2011

Renaissance Running...The Florence Marathon

The Florence Marathon has made significant strides since I first settled in Florence 3 years ago. As a spectator in 2008, the marathon had a genuine neighborhood feel with an indigenous buzz. Most participants were Italian and Western European.  The website was parochial, the logistics untied.  Publicity was limited and it was not on the then-mayor's priority list.  Neither was Florence on the destination wish-list of serious runners and marathoners around the world.  I liked it that way because it felt so untechnically Italian.  It felt like it belonged to the Florentines.

In the past three years, Florence's marathon has grown up and it's been fun watching it grow as I have grown closer to my city. The marathon organization has tweaked every detail, from the course, to the publicity, to the ease of registration, traffic and spectator control, and especially the staging at the start and finish lines, not to mention free massages at the end.  This year 11,000 runners participated from all over the world.  After today's race, the Florence Marathon now ranks among the 20 most widely recognized marathons in the world.  Once they decided to do it, they brought out their old Renaissance thinking caps and designed a seriously marathonic masterpiece.

For the past few days, the city has played host to these 11,000 visitors and their families, and you can feel the personality of these athletes all over Florence. The streets have been packed with a welcoming spirit.  It's fun to watch others appreciating the city that I love.

The marathon was a spectacle to behold, the best one since I've lived here, not to mention we were blessed with outstanding running weather, blue skies and crisp, cool air.  I cannot imagine the high of running through Florence, with a mass of 11,000 people, being aroused by the energy emanating from 700 years of art and architecture smack in front of you on every street, not to mention the natural beauty of the Arno and the hills that encase and crown the city.  The Florence Marathon outdid itself this year.