Well, what a fantastic weekend that was in Rome. We had 3 club runners – Paul Holborow (me!), Elliott Ward and Paul Quigley – taking on the mighty Rome marathon. Strike action in Italy initially put the whole weekend in doubt as cancelled or overbooked connecting flights left Elliott and I without a seat to Rome, and we hadn’t even left Newcastle! With nothing more than hope we flew to Paris prepared to stay overnight when at the Air France desk 2 seats suddenly became available and we were off, arriving in Rome earlier than originally planned! Paul meanwhile was running about an hour late, but he made it with his best mate Neil and we all met up in the evening at the race Expo where we picked up our bibs and race backpack & shirt.
A leisurely Saturday was spent checking out getting to the start which was by the iconic Coliseum and resting the legs for race day. It rained all night and in the morning it was cold and still raining, just like at home! After months of training, this was it. All those Sunday Long Runners club runs, parkruns, solo runs round and round Darras, and the little aches and niggles that all brings, culminated in this moment. Feeling slightly nervous, cold and wet, it was more of an amble across the start line and we were off. Elliott set a good pace and was away up front on his own, whilst I needed to be more steady. No sign of Paul and Neil, but they were probably not far behind us all the way as we didn’t see them in front.
Still raining for most of the first half of the race the highlight of running through St Peter’s Square at the Vatican was amazing and you could almost feel the excitement amongst the fellow runners. A steady but significant climb at around 17 miles did the damage for me. Elliott motored on and finished first in an excellent 3:55. I started to fade and cramp up and finished in 4:27, a new PB. At the finish we joined up with Paul who had had a bad first half but, after apparently visiting the Vatican and having a private audience with the big man himself, found the energy to pick up the pace and finish strongly on 4:34. Neil, who had had a few injuries of late and done very little running, made it home in 5 hours which was a brilliant effort as the cobles, especially towards the end, made this race brutal.
Feeling shattered, we staggered back to the apartment where I needed a lie down! It was later that evening, when we met up for something to eat, that the realisation of what we had just achieved started to kick in and I’m still buzzing! Completing a marathon, irrespective of the time, is a fantastic, positive and lasting life experience, so if you haven’t run one yet, why not give it ago too! Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!
Congratulations too to Paul Doney by the way who did a terrific sub 3:30 marathon in Barcelona the week before! We want to hear from you too to see how you got on! We have quite a few runners heading off to London next month and to Edinburgh in May so we all look forward to hearing how everyone gets on then.