Alta Val Badia, June 30 2013, 5.45 a.m. - Maratona Dles Dolomites Enel, 2013 edition. Claudio (Caninis) has invited us to watch the start of the most stunning Grandfondo competiton ever. We have obviously accepted his invitation and, after getting up at 4.30 a.m., we have finally arrived at the starting point in Badia...
It is awsome to be here: many participants are already here and ready to go, others are reaching our position from the upper street. The breathtaking landscape of the Dolomites mountains offers the perfect background for such an amazing event.
We are so excited we are not even cold despite the fact that, although it is June 30th, temperatures recorded range from C 2 at the starting point and several degrees below zero on the passes... Poor athletes! Maybe they won' t suffer anyway, adrenaline heats you up!
Someone is wearing warmer clothes, most of them have decided to defy the cold weather wearing shorts. The most important thing, it seems, is to protect your stomach...
Finally the sun slowly rises, first shily, from behind the mountains, them heating us all up.
VIPs make their entrance... Will they get angry if we mention them? We will try anyway: Antonio Rossi, Yuri Chechi, Alex Zanardi with the most beautiful smile of all, Paolo Belli who the day before came to say hello in the Expo area, Matteo Marzotto .... It was worth it waking up so early!
Actually we are there to support our President (Laura Colnaghi Calissoni). She is the first to approach her position in her group: just a couple of words with the Managing Director and then, to be on the safe side, a little stretching, while waiting to get on her bike.
We have even a little time totale a few pictures.
At last, they are ready to go and the excitement increases even among the cheering crowd and we wonder how they must be feeling.
Michil Costa, with his sophisticated and elegantly eccentric look, opens the parade, before the official start, riding an original Penny Farthing.
But then, is it really true? Is he really cycling down from Corvara (8 km) and climbing back up again (other 8 km)? I thought it was just a pubblicity stunt : just a few meters on his bike and
then a motorcycle would have taken him to destination. Instead he will actually get to Corvara on such an amazing bicycle. Fascinating! In the meantime Claudio has reached his chosen spot in the middle of the street, one arm up towards the sky and "BANG": the 27th edition of the Maratona Dles Dolomites has started. It will take the 9138 participants a total amount of 35 minutes to parade in front of us towards the highest peaks. But the thrills are not over yet: we rush to Corvara using our all areas pass in order to be allowed to drive along the streets which are still closed to the traffic - have we been classified as VIPs ourselves? - the Maratona is an unforgettable experience also thanks to an unexpected elycopter ride we are given: 10 minutes flying over the most beautiful mountains in the world, part of the UNESCO Heritage, and the riders who, with strength and determination are facing the challenge of the Campolongo: a surprising human snake. The fastest ones are already far ahead of the group though and are right the at the front: who knows who is going to be the winner in the end.... We go back to our base camp since it is time for us to get down to work: we have to hand out 9138 waistcoats to the participants. We enter the sport center and wait. Time goes and a few people come to collect their prize but by 12.00 we still have the majority of the waistcoats. Shall we go back with all our boxes still full? What a terrible disappointment!
I don t know why I thought that, since at 1.00 p.m. people start flocking in and we won' t stop working for 6 long hours: distribute the waistcoats, change size, check the neverending line... HELP we can't make it, we are completely surrounded! I jump on the table and take a picture, people will not believe it if we just tell them, we need to provide evidences! By the way, congratulations to the riders who after 4/5/6/7 hours on their bikes have also waited 1 and a half hours in some cases, to get their finisher waistcoat! Adamant and funny, that is what these people are! It is 6.30 p.m. and we may finally be over.... Silence is now deafening...the only noises are those coming from the street where volunteers are clearing everything.
An extremely efficient organisation thanks to which everything went smoothly, or at least, problems were very well handled so that we didn't notice anything wrong. I hadn't taken part at this event for two years and now I'm really happy I have come. The atmosphere is healthy, inmore than one sense. And I also had the honour to shake hands with Armando (I don't know his surname), the eldest participant, 84 years of sweetness and determination, blue eyes and a smile that immediately catches on. I remember seeing him 3 years ago from a distance but today I could finally meet and embrace him. Inside the venue I recognize him at the very last minute after he has queued for the waistcoat: " Armando, you should have called me, I would have given you the waistcoat without making you wait for so long!" I tell him. But Armando is a real, loyal sportsman and a fighter and he would never accept a different treatment... I know. Anyway, congratulation to all the riders, the organisation and thanks for letting us live such an emotional experience. See you in 2014!