(Not) The Path of Gods...
A few months ago, while I was organizing a family trip to Italy with my wife and parents, I found out that during same period of our stay in Amalfi, a very interesting race would take place nearby (Amalfi Crossing). With the option to choose from 3 different distances (17, 33 or 70 km), I found it a good idea to explore the area by running a short race. The organizer (Lost Worlds Racing) has caught my attention in the past with their races in some of the most beautiful parts of the world and I was glad to know that this is one of their races.
A little after our arrival, other runners started coming in and at 8:15 (the true ‘’Italian way’’ of a 15’ delay - by the way, the time on the clock tower in the photo is not correct), 60 runners (most of the them Italians) started the 33km race. Those running the 70km race had already started earlier at 5:00. After us, the 17km race will start at 9:00.
The 33km race started with a steep climb for 5km, gaining a 700m elevation. We will run in a loop back to the Atrani start point (16th km) before ascending a more demanding climb of 1100m of elevation within 9 km, before descending downhill to finish at Atrani again.
He was still looking very fresh and strong at that point and I knew then that I would not be able to keep up with him in the upcoming second climb. Instead of risking tiring myself trying to keep up with him, I decided to slow down. I filled my camelback bladder and started the second climb with less energy and determination to tackle with more high concrete / stone steps.
I slowed down quite a lot, with my breathing getting heavier and my quadriceps stiffer. At that point, I knew I was in the third position (with Archimede and another runner ahead of me) but I had no knowledge of who was behind me and what was the time difference between me and the runner. I was trying to push as much as I could to gain a podium place. At the end of the last climb, I reached the highest point of 1100m and was greeted with by a foggy forest of chestnut trees with humidity above 80% and temperature close to 30 Celcius. I started thinking only of how to finish the long downhill as fast as I can, so that I can have a dive in the blue waters of Atrani’s beach, which is just a few hundred metres from the Finish Line. The run back to Atrani seemed endless and just 5km before the end, the route went up’steps’ again, with more of those horrid steps jeering at me and testing my limits.
After 4 hours and 20 minutes of running but mostly climbing 2300m of elevation in extremely humid conditions, I crossed the Finish Line in the third position, with my wife, parents and relatives waiting for me at the square.
The gorgeous views from the top of the mountains was not enough to relieve all the pressure I had gone through from overdoing with climbing the steps and bracing through the humidity…but the cold waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea definitely offered me the best cooling effect and muscle recovery that I desperately needed!! What a fantastic way to finish a race!
The organizers were nice enough to provide food and drinks for the runners after the race, guaranteeing us a good replenish of energy (unfortunately, they have not been that nice during the race because there was no provision for the runners between the 16th - 33rd km, which was the toughest part of the race!)
A few hours later, we returned for the awards ceremony, where I was offered a traditional brightly colored ceramic plate, which is a local creation of the region, with my position in the race written in black on the back of the plate.
This race has definitely added another good memory to my collection, despite my disappointment of having to conquer yet another thousands of steps instead of running the “Path of Gods”!!
The unusually high temperatures during our trip and the unique memories from all the amazing places that we have visited will be my energy to survive the next few miserable months of Winter back in England.
February seemed a little far away from now but we are planning and looking forward to our next escapade to somewhere warm, untouched and wild…and it will be…MEXICO!!!!!!!
Hasta La Vista, everyone!!!