Congratulations to the Venice in Peril Team of the 2009 Venice Marathon!
The Venice in Peril Team all managed to complete the Venice Marathon virtually in tact (less a few pounds and a few toenails!) and raised in excess of £13,500 in sponsorship!
The start of the course was in the manicured grounds of the Villa Pisani at Stra, Napoleon's vast, imposing palace, a few miles East of Padua. It was a somewhat fresh start but overwhelmingly beautiful, following the course of the Brenta with its rich smattering of Palladian villas dotted along both banks of the river. Running at a steady pace was a lovely way of seeing these charming villas that are largely unvisited despite them being the mainland retreats of most of the great families that feature in Venice's Golden Book bearing such family names as Mocenigo, Foscari, Venier.
The atmosphere was superb with cheering crowds of all nationalities lining the route. There were local brass bands playing traditional marches and "very local" rock bands giving their all to almost recognisable hits, all positioned at intervals along the roadside. There was one drummer who clearly had not managed to wake the rest of his band members so early of a Sunday morning and so was dutifully playing the monotonous background beat, ever hopeful one of the others might turn up and provide the melody!
One can't pretend it was not, at times, gruelling, particularly through Mestre and the abandoned industrial sites of Marghera where the crowds whittled down to nothing and the music too; there was little to take one's mind off the seemingly interminable distance. However the San Giuliano Park provided a welcome grassy relief at about the 30 km marker before tackling the endless causeway, the Ponte Della Liberta. This was a difficult stretch, it is 5 km of dead straight motorway, the straightness makes it difficult to judge the distance travelled or to travel; it is rather like running on a running machine in a gym only with no TV to distract you. Looming in the distance was the most peculiar sight, two vast cruise liners soaring over the roofscape, dwarfing the churches and palazzi, looking like gliding tower blocks.
Arriving at Venice proper, turning the corner on to the Zattere, was an incredible sensation with the Lagoon twinkling in the, by now, bright sunshine, the Giudecca looking resplendent and the S. Giorgio Maggiore majestical.but there were still 13 bridges to tackle, 11 of which were in the final kilometre! The water looked intensely enticing in the 23 degree heat and perhaps realising this, a large number of the Pronto Soccorso (First Aiders) were closely spaced around the water's edge of the Punta della Dogana. The final stretch was exquisitely beautiful, crossing the temporary floating bridge connecting the Zattere to the Piazza di San Marco and then pushing yourself every last inch along the Riva delle Sette Martiri, past the Bridge of Sighs, and on to the finish. It was an extraordinary feeling of achievement and a great introduction to the world of marathons.
For the runners and their families and supporters, it was a fabulous weekend packed with partying in private palazzi on the Grand Canal, courtesy of David Landau and Victoria Press, and seeing the sights with Sir Timothy Clifford, formerly the Director of the National Galleries of Scotland.
If you are interested in taking part in the 2010 Venice Marathon on October 24th on behalf of Venice in Peril and joining in an action-packed weekend, please contact Tamara or Pandora in the office on 020 7736 6891.