Last evening, the sunset towards citta da (city of ) Siena was mesmerizing, as a soft blanket of yellow and golds filled the sky covering the tired sun. He was being laid to rest for the night, awaiting his lover moon.
“Tell me the story about how the sun loved the moon so much that he died every night to let her breathe.” – Anonymous
As I sipped Limoncello, the tinkle of the ice-cube could not compete with the choir of crickets who sang us a night-time lullaby. It is so good to be in Tuscany, I have fallen under its magical spell once again.
Before our flight to Rome, we had been receiving regular updates regarding the eco Maratona Chianti 2017 held this past weekend (https://www.ecomaratonadelchianti.it).
Thousands of runners would have the opportunity to experience the sheer pleasure of running, Nordic trekking and/or walking through the Tenuta D’Arceno vineyards and the Bosco (woodlands) surrounding the Arceno Estate.
The barren vines of Arceno would now greet them, while idly basking under the Tuscan sun, they’re warming leaves just turning yellow, crimson and orange, Bellisimo!
The beautiful centuries old Cypress Alley would act as a guiding parent, softly whispering, “keep going”, “you can do it”, as participant’s attempted the difficult incline.
The 300 year old Cypress Trees would provide some welcome relief, as participants ran through their shade, while continuing their journey onto Castelnuova Berardenga.
The back roads to Castelnuovo Berardenga, pure white, and covered with dust, would ensure each participant received a final bianco baci (white kiss) from the dust of the Arceno lands before leaving.
We had seen volunteers setting up refreshment tables Saturday, proudly positioning the Italian flags just perfectly by the Cypress Trees. Ticker banners of green, red and white hung around the station di riposo (rest station) ensuring the signage was pointing in the correct direction.
The final 6 KM of the 42 KM, the 10 KM run and Nordic walk would find thousands of participants ascending the crest of Cypress Alley, just a short distance from my Casale (country home).
We got up early to have a brief run ourselves ( I’ll decline to define brief) before walking towards the sound of jubilant voices at the end of the driveway. Then the thousands of participants began to appear.
We all cheered and clapped as the runners and walkers, many with sweat pouring down their faces, reached the top of Cypress Alley. Tested by the hill, their drenched clothes clung to their bodies, many out of breath. On some faces, their sweat left streaks in the white dust which had settled on their skin. Perhaps a message from the runners before them, “catch me if you can”.
“The determination to win is the better part of winning.” – Daisaku Ikeda
Taunt muscular bodies and legs (some not so taunt), carried determined participants through the paces of the Maratona. Some smiling broadly and others grimacing, as they reached the crest of the hill.
One couple held hands as they approached the top. Others waited for their companions, while embracing, jumping up and down, laughing and congratulating themselves on their feat (remembering these were the 10 KM runners and the walkers).
The exercise outfits were brightly coloured, with many of the participants wearing matching shirts to ensure they could identify each other.
There was no light breeze to provide the participants with respite from the heat, however, something better awaited them at the top of Cypress Alley–Italian hospitality.
Italian filled the air with cheers of “Bravo, Brava.”
The station di riposo (rest station) was organized by a dedicated group of Uomini (men) and Donne (women), who met my husband and I with the same warm smiles as we approached.
Some participants received hugs from volunteers, and a slap on the back as they approached the station di riposo.
The table had “l’aqua“(water), “caffe” (coffee), ““tè“ (tea), coca-cola, energy drinks and for the more relaxed participants; Grappa and Vino Rosso (red wine)!
On good authority, the Grappa bottle had to be replenished twice.
We all laughed and hooted as a runner dressed as a Priest, carrying an oversized wine glass approached the table yelling “Vino Rosso“.
I found myself willing encouragement to participants struggling with tired legs, whispering “You can do it”.
My husband began speaking in Italian/ Englese to two wonderful gentlemen.
One smiled broadly as he explained how many participants there were this year.
The first Marathona participants would not arrive for another hour and laughed and joked with us. I smiled not understanding all of what he was saying (exactly) but it did not seem to matter.
On his uniform he had a stitched patch marked “Security” and he listened intently to the updates on his Walky Talky, relaying them to me in Italian; “prima femmina” (first woman) marathoner was coming soon,“correct in tutti il mondo” (she runs all over the world).
Some participants had their faithful canines accompanying them, one dog arrived earlier than her master, faithfully, albeit impatiently, waiting at the top of Cypress Alley for him. I could not help but think, the canine may have wanted to “trade” in his best friend after running that hill.
The dogs were also provided with refreshments and had time to enthusiastically greet their fellow dogs.
In Canada, I have only seen water and fruit served to replenish runners, however that will just not do in Tuscany!
A bounty of sliced oranges and pane (bread) lay on platters; pane with sliced meats, pane drizzled with Olive Oil, pane soaked in wine and Zucchero (sugar) for strength and pane smeared with pate.
A gentleman by the name of Mierno beckoned me to the table for a third time, “avere qualcosa da mangiare, bere” (Have something to eat, to drink).
Well, “I have been here for three hours, strenuously clapping and cheering, certainly my energy levels must be low”. This, just as a marathoner raced by me reaching his 36 KM.
“Vorresti da bere”? (Would you like a drink?), Hai qualche vino (Have some vino, which we did), “Il sapore della migliore grappa”? (Taste of the best Grappa?, which we did)- amazing….
I tried the pane soaked with wine and sugar, “buono” (good), then the pane with sliced meat, magnifico (magnificent), then my husband tried the pane with olive oil from Rapolano Terme.
David received a tour of the white tent where the volunteers were setting up to have dinner. Steaks were on the grill, ragu’s was in pots and the long tables were laid out. “Se See qui, torn per la cena“, (If you are here, come back for dinner).
Well, “that was a wonderful day” I said to David as we made our way back to the Casale, reaffirming our participation in eco Maratona 2018. This time, not on the sidelines.
We had broad smiles on our face as we laughed and talked about the wonderful time spent watching the runners while sipping Grappa, who would believe us?
I trust they might, if they had watched our brief zig zag up the hill.