Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Marathon in Venice

I've been working with the Venicemarathon
for eight years now. They called me in as a consultant back in 1999 because they'd had a drop in participants and needed help in getting the numbers up again. Their then director decided that I was the ideal amateur running expert and that's how I got the gig. The first year I had them go visit all the regions in Italy so they could hear the complaints from the running clubs about what they wanted changed. It also gave the clubs a chance to vent and feel like they were being heard. The second year I brought in the pacing groups, something very new to Italy. So new in fact that nobody knew what they were and everybody told me it wouldn't work. Whenever the Italians tell me something won't work is usually the moment that I know that it will! Anyway, I called Amby Burfoot and asked him if he would come over and "baptize" the group, which he did by being one of the four hour pacers.
Since then pacing groups have spread to almost all the Italian marathons. I am proud to say that my groups are the best. I do that by making sure that they have a lot of marathon experience, that they're reliable runners, but most of all that each group has a chance to bond before so that when they go into the race they work as a team.
The other cool thing about being the boss of the pace teams is that I've made a lot of great friends. In the first pic above you see on the right in red my friend Serena and her sister being hugged by Stefano. Serena ran her marathon number 100 at Venice on Sunday. She says she'll quit after this but I don't really believe her! Next in my line of friends is Stefano.
Just last week he ran his PR, 2h51'32", and this Sunday he paced the 3h40' group. Plus the day before he toted Evan around the expo on his shoulders entertaining him for a few hours while I worked. All around great guy! I had a really hard time putting the groups together this year. About a month ago ten pacers (of 33) called me to tell me that they were a- injured b-sick c-had an emergency family situation. I was panicked and calling around for replacements, having to rely on people I didn't really know and trusting that they would be able to perform. I'm happy to report that it all worked out and all the pacers, from 2h50' to 5h00', came in on time.
For the first time marathoners it was not an easy day. The temps were hot and humid and I saw a lot of experienced people fall apart at 35km. In any case, the best time out of my "new" group was a guy from GB: "Julia, I completed the marathon in 3 hours 13 minutes on Sunday and love it.
Thanks for all your support."

How great is that for a FIRST marathon?


anji said...

Most excellent! Isn't it great to see your ideas fly around?? and become embraced?? :)

Anonymous said...

wooo hooo!