Monday, March 27, 2000

TR Turin, Italy Marathon

Turin Marathon
ITALY – 3/23 – 3/27/00

This was my fourth trip to Italy in the past year! Believe me, it’s not because it is my favorite place or that I want to keep donating to the thieves in Italy! On two of the previous trips I had run marathons in Italy but neither counted as a completion in Italy (Monaco and Vatican City). Therefore I decided to find a marathon in Italy to complete two goals at once. The Turin marathon enabled me to finally count a marathon in Italy and I also celebrated my 56th birthday by running my 157th marathon. Yeah, yeah! I know. The numbers should match and that is what the master plan called for –but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to run that extra marathon in Morocco. So I will learn to live with it!

Nicole and I left on Thursday so we would have plenty of time to explore the city. On Friday we met up with a friend from NYC who is a member of the 50 + DC club. We all took a city tour to get the layout of the land and history of the city. The tour took us through the old town, past many of the statues, palaces and museums and through some of the suburbs. The guide was proud to point out the original FIAT factory. A tidbit – FIAT- Fabrication Italian Automobile Turin (sounds much better in Italian). I never knew that the Fiat was started and is still built in Turin. Turin is a pretty city, not too large and easy to walk around. It was established about 1,000 years ago but the most significant period was the 17th century when it was rebuilt as the capital of the Savoy Duchy. Most of the buildings and architecture in the old town are from that period.
There are lots of museums in the former palaces from that period. The other major tourist attraction is the ‘La Santa Sindone’ or Holy Shroud that is kept in the Duomo or Church of Saint John the Baptist. Only an actual-size copy is on display most of the time but for those interested the real Shroud will be on display from Aug 26 through Oct 22 this year as part of the Jubilee Celebration.
We did a lot of walking and exploring. There are some great cafes and restaurants. And another interesting feature of the city that I liked were the 18kms of porticos or porches that cover all the sidewalks in the old town. The porticos even cross the roads so that you never have to step out into bad weather.
The city has two major rivers, the Dora and Po flowing through it. You can take a boat tour along the Po, which we had intended to do after the marathon but never did have the time.
The western edge of the city is flanked by the Piedmont Hills and beyond that lay the Italian Alps. Turin is the host city for the 2006 Olympics. Had I known that when I arranged the trip I probably would have extended the trip for a few ski days in the Alps.
On Saturday we explored the city some more and found our way to the Stadium to collect our race numbers and final instructions. It is a big race with several Kenyans and other elite runners. As fate always does, the weather was great on Friday and Saturday but on race day, Sunday, it was cool, cloudy, rainy and windy. However the rain let up about three miles into the race so it was not too bad after that. The course was fairly flat but had a lot more hills than described in the brochure. It was a 26-mile loop that started at the stadium and circled the suburbs of Turin but the last 10K went through the old town to finish back at the Stadium. The traffic control was good but the water stations provided sparkling water, which I hate. I hit the half at the exact same time as last week in Germany (1:50) but remember remarking to myself that I was doubtful that I could hold that pace for the second half. Thus I was surprised when I got a second wind or burst of energy around 17 miles and started to drop the pace. The last 10K were the fastest of the race and I managed to run a negative split by 90 seconds to finish in 3:38:30. Believe me, that doesn’t happen very often! So it looks like I am finally starting to get back into marathon shape but I expect it will take another sixty days before I will break 3:30 again.

After the race we had planned to take a boat cruise on the Po River but we had to wait over an hour to get a bus back to the hotel and that delay put a major crimp in our plans. Nicole had to leave Sunday night to get back for meetings at work so we just didn’t have enough time. My friend and I stayed over till Monday but the cruises didn’t operate on Monday. Unfortunately we discovered that nothing operated on Monday! All the museums and palaces were closed. I would have taken a train up to the ski resorts just to check them out but Edson doesn’t ski so we spent the day exploring the city and suburbs on the trams. Bottom line is that three days is all that is needed to visit Turin.

Finally my boredom was over and it was time to return home. And I was so pleased that Turin seemed like a nice quiet city without all the thieves/pickpockets common in the rest of Italy-until I arrived in England to discover that some A-hole in baggage handling had broken into my sports bag and stolen my heart monitor! When I reported the theft to the airport police at Stansted they just smiled and commented ‘Yes, there is a major problem in Turin. We keep asking the police there to help us stop it but there doesn’t seem to be much interest”! I wish they had told me that before I took the trip.
So another donation to the thieves of Italy! But these thieves are going to be a bit disappointed because they only stole the wristwatch and forgot the chest transmitter. All they have is a very ugly watch that is difficult to operate without the instructions.

Oh well. I am now looking for a place that staples all your valuables to your body before you take a trip to Italy? That way I will know when someone rips me off?

But I can’t let these A-holes get to me and spoil my fun! So I am getting back on the horse so-to-speak and going back to Italy tomorrow! Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer for me!

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