Claire, exhilarated from her run in Brussels asked me to join her for the La Maratona a Staffetta. We both participated in the Roma Fun Run earlier in the year and so, I thought that it would be fun to participate in the 4 km non-competitive run.
We met at the Flaminio metro station and walked towards Piazza de Siena in Villa Borghese. Coincidentally, there was a demonstration going on at the time hence a couple of stations were blocked, and the subway didn’t stop at there.
I was amused when she passed me a banana and asked me to eat it. Claire explained that it will reduce lactic acid build up.
We both reached the piazza about 1.5 hours prior to the race and registered ourselves at the booth. There was one queue for the kids race, another for the 4 km non competitive race and the last row is for the 10 km competitive race.
After we registered, we were given our bibs and t-shirts. And this is our official tee shirt shaped like a bus. How very cute! I’ll never open it!
But I was very surprised to see a double digit numbers on our bibs when all of the previous runs that I’ve been to has always been at least in the thousands. Turns out that there were only 30 something people participating in the non competitive run and about 100 odd people for the 10km one.
Look, Claire is 22.
And here I am posing with my number 21 bib.
I think that the low number is probably because the the race corresponds to another marathon the next day hosted by FAO which is a very well known organization. Also, I suppose this marathon was not that widely publicised and the fact that there was a demonstration going on perhaps. Also I guess the rougher terrain kept away casual runners (as you’ll see later)
Another thing that I didn’t expected was the amount of freebies that we got. I mean for 5 euro, I really didn’t expect to get any freebies at all. But I guess the lack of participants meant that we had more stuff. One of the booths were from Atac Roma, the public transportation in Rome which was the main organizer of the event.
This was what I nicked off this booth :
The round tin container was full of sweets, below it is a watch (which I have no idea how to use, but it’s cute anyway) a lanyard with a lipbalm attached to it and a bus keychain. These alone costs more than 5 euro.
The next booth that we went to was this booth that had juice, cookies and gatorade.
I took a chocolate cookie here to munch on before the race.
And there was the centrale del latte di Roma (Cart’s favourite) booth. But I only saw yoghurt being given out instead of milk. There was a big queue anyway, as the kids race had just ended.
The kids all had medals! They also had their own freebie booth too, where they could get a nice cotton candy, popcorn and balloons.
And if they were not tired enough from the race, they could hang on in this bouncy playbooth. I was fascinated by the dog’s head bobbing in time with the music.
And here was the stand, all ready for the winners of the marathon. I can only dream at this point of time. While I can run 10 km, I’m pretty much just a casual runner. Running against professionals freak me out.
And of course before any race, it’s always good to empty your tanks. It’s not a good feeling to be running on high tide so it’s a good idea to head to the toilets. Or so I thought …
Just look at the guy on my left grimacing as he left the porta-loo.
It was horrible! You can literally see all the crap floating in the hole made by other people. That by itself was scaring me off! Also there were dubious drops of liquid on the ring. I was so nervous putting my naked butt on it that I had to line it with toilet paper (luckily there was enough to do so)
Once is enough!
And then it was about 15 minutes to the start of the race. I quickly scanned through the path that were were supposed to go to and confidently thought to myself that it will be pavement all the way.
We queued behind the ‘real’ runners (they all looked so very fit and skinny) and watched them run off in front of us.
And just for posterity, we had a ‘before’ picture taken by a nice person who offered to snap a picture for us. Look at how nice and clean and shiny we looked. Oh, and also notice our sling bags.
I think I was the only fool that was carrying a bulky bag like that. But I couldn’t do much because I didn’t have a proper runner’s bag and there wasn’t anywhere we could deposit our bags.
And in no time, it was our turn! It was so strange looking at our group of 30 odd people. Smaller than when I participated in a school run even.
Claire and I decided that our goal was to simply not be the last. But as soon as the signal was made, everyone else ran off quickly, and it seemed like we were last which freaked me out a little.
But I didn’t plan to sprint off because I prefer to keep to my own pace on a constant. We saw 3 young ladies who zoomed off at the beginning and when we caught up to them, they tried to run away as soon as they saw us. But in the end, it seemed that they wore themselves out too quickly and they cheated by walking through the barriers.
Nevertheless, I found out that we managed to run past at least 5 people.
It was a very challenging run in all honesty. While 4 km seems like chicken, the fact that we were on a terrain made it really hard. We ran on gravel, earth, wet leaves, slopes, roots and whatnots. It was (almost) like climbing the jungle.
I was dying! Luckily Claire was there to give me motivation. Here she was approaching the 3 km mark. She’s amazingly fast! But I still prefer to keep to my own pace.
The run seemed to go on forever! And my sling bag was bothering me, as well as my jacket which flaying all around.
But at length, we were approaching the finish line. The crazy thing is, as we almost reached the end, one of the competitor from the 10km run whizzed past us (they ran the same route as us, only twice)That was crazy impressive!
But eventually, we reached the end (Claire saw the three cheater at the finish line before us) Nevertheless, we felt quite proud of ourselves. It was quite an achievement!
And here is our “after” picture. I have a “I’m gonna die!” look while Claire’s face looks really red!
By this time, I was too tired to get more food freebies as my brain felt quite fried. I’m not sure if I’d want to do this race again