Pisa Marathon, Italy 17-12-17
For those looking for a different pre-Christmas 10k, Half or Full Marathon, Pisa (Yes leany tower - Pisa) may well whet your appetite. The course starts and finishes at the famous tower and the route is nestled between the snow-capped Tuscan hills and the Mediterranean Sea in North West Italy. Despite this, practically the entire marathon route was flat on decent surfaced city and rural highways. The weather was cold but there was no wind or any cloud and was probably perfect conditions for many.
For me it was the culmination of my first full year training and allowed me to aim for a PB (previously 3:46). Pretty much from the start, which was very crowded due to both half and full marathons starting together, I tagged myself onto the 3:30 pace setters. For a good part of 20 Miles I was in touch with these but fell away for last 10k. I managed to hold on and finish in 3:36:24 (PB by 10 mins) and head swiftly for the obligatory tower selfies and the large Peroni - I had eyed in the cafe window just as I finished. That drink was well earned and I was as happy as a penguin in the snow.
Pisa is a fairly cheap destination and the airport is minutes from the city centre and train station. I flew from Stansted on the Sat am - Made my way to the low key expo from the airport - and then checked into a mid-range hotel for the pre-race sleep. The City is small but geared up for the marathon and my hotel looked after me really well. They kept my room until 3pm for a post-race shower and gave a free breakfast to all runners. They pointed out cheap but very good local restaurants and genuinely were friendly and welcoming. I would recommend the race and venue without reservation.
Report by Paul Reeve.