Now in its 19th year, the Generali Milano Marathon will have 40,000 participating this weekend, and that is only the humans. On Friday night, one hundred dogs sniffed, walked, ran and made new friends in the Dog Run.
The Generali Milano Marathon hosted the Bridgestone School run on Saturday, and 13,000 kids and their parents ran and walked with them, as a large Italian cow mascot, quite popular with the kids, did high fives. The 3k run/walk ended in the Expo area, which was getting crowded as marathoners and relay runners, their families toured the expo.
Thee was something for every type of runner, and non-runner at the Milano Running Festival.
How does one stand out when doing a marathon on a weekend when dozens are being held around Europe? On top of that, Rome also has a marathon the same weekend as Milano.
Those are of the conundrums that must bounce through the head of Andrea Trabuio, the man behind the RCS Mass Events group. A tall, affable Milanese, Andrea is proud of his city and his country. With 40,000 runners, walkers, kids, and a hundred dogs, the Marathon Milano is the 4th largest event in Italy.
If one looks at the details, one notices that the event shows some real signs of moving out of the crowd. Each year for the past few years, the marathon is growing (about 9000 of the possible 10,000) and the relay has 3,650 teams, of 4 runners.
Milano is a much more modern city as new developments have come in the 19 years of the event. On Saturday, I joined locals at an outdoor cafe, enjoying some fine aubergine and anti pasti with a friend from Switzerland. The downtown was full of local and runners walking the huge shopping area and cafe area.
The expo is now 3 days, which is unusual in Italy. The festival had chances for kids to learn to high jump with recent European Champ Giancarlo Tambieri (the man who cuts off half his beard as he gets fit), or learn to pole vault or sprint.
The food area had food trucks, with pizza, sandwiches, espresso, wine and it was well recieved.
On Friday, I enjoyed a two hour discussion on the evolution of running with some key players in the sport. I met Julia Jones, an ex pat American who has lived in Italy since 1983, coaching women runners. Julia loves Italy and is quite impressed with Milan. She thinks it is a good marathon for Americans to run. I will be writing about that experience on Sunday.
That is part of the reason I am here. I met with Andrea and his team to learn about the race, and observe how to educate Americans about the race.
I can tell you more after the race post event on Sunday afternoon.
In speaking with Andrea Trabuio, I noted his pride in his team, who is already up, early on Sunday morning, to ensure that the event is ready for 24,000 runners and walkers.
At the end of the day, it is all about the human interaction. On Friday, I was trying to return to the Hotel Tocq, and did not know how to get back. A staffer took me to the subway, purchased a ticket and made sure I got off at the right exit. From there, another team member and I chatted on the behind the scenes work needed to make an event successful.
And finally, we might see a course record, or, at the very least, the fastest marathon in Italy on April 7.
Official hashtag: #milanomarathon