Venice Marathon 22-10-17
Great Yarmouth Road Runners were spoilt this year when events organiser extraordinaire, Nicos Symeou, arranged the annual running holiday. A five day break in the beautiful city of Venice awaited the 40-strong party of GYRR with some family and friends joining to support on the trip.
There was an option of running a 10k or a marathon; sixteen members took the plunge and ran the full marathon distance of 26.2 miles. After a lengthy, crowded bus ride to get to the start in Strar the runners were relieved to disembark and make their final preparations.
With 7500 competitors there was an excellent atmosphere at the start. The Italians know how to get the runners pumped with lots of music and inspirational words over the loud speaker, although to be fair most of us didn’t have a clue what was being said as it was all in Italian! The 9.35a.m start was surely drawing close signalled by ‘Il Canto degli Italiani’ being played; the national anthem of Italy. Music turned out to be the universal language along the route with 21 bands supporting the weary runners through the streets of Italy. None more so than the Beatles tribute act at about half way!
The course itself was a marathon runner’s dream - pancake flat. It started in front of the Villa Pisani then ran parallel with the Brenta Riviera famous for its villas. It led through some small towns where spectators crowded along the road side, including Marghera and Mestre before snaking through the San Giuliana Park. Most of the marathoners in the GYRR party commented on how the Liberty Bridge seemed to go on for an eternity. On tired legs (around 20 miles) this long, straight stretch in fact went on for 4km. The reward at the end was the best prize of all….entering Venice itself. The approach revealed the stunning skyline and knowing that the finish line was now only 5km away was enough to motivate the runners. Entering the harbour to see several cruise liners up close was quite a spectacle. The sheer scale of them was a sight and provided a great distraction from everything that was now aching from the constant pounding of a marathon.
Excitement was mounting as the lure of St Mark’s Square was now calling. Weaved into the final 5k were 14 bridges alongside the Giudecca Canal. This was in contrast to the otherwise flat course and proved to be one last little challenge. From the 25 mile point emotions ran high as friends and family members from GYRR were dotted along the barriers giving vital last minute encouragement. The 10k runners were amongst these groups as was club coach, Andrew Baker, who had to withdraw from the race in advance due to injury. He wins the award for the loudest and most enthusiastic support any marathon runner could hope to receive.
It was a highly successful day with everyone from GYRR completing the beautiful course relatively unscathed.
A few highlights include the personal best times achieved by Vicky, Simon and Gary. Vicky had an exceptional run towards the end of a highly successful season. She ran an all-time best of 3.18.46 which gave her a finishing position of 22nd woman overall and first British woman home! Simon alleges he is retiring from marathon running and so was thrilled to go out on a high with a PB of 3.24.25. Gary Pillar judged his race to perfection, at long last, achieving his pre-race target of 3.45.
High praise goes to Nathan Roberts and Anna Coulborn, completing their debut marathons with exceptional finishing times.
Jane Thomas fell foul to the dreaded cramping of the calf muscle at half way and had no choice but to walk a nine mile section of the course. However, showing her true grit and determination she powered to a sub 5 hour time; great work Jane!
Sean Jermy bravely attempted a sub 3 hour finish. His time of 3.06 was a reflection of the tough finishing section of the course with the bridges proving too much of a challenge this time; exceptional running though Sean.
Everyone gave their best and felt extremely proud to be part of such a hard-working committed team. The hours of training and preparation that goes into a marathon is not to be under estimated but to do it in such a beautiful city as Venice was the best reward. A huge thank you must go to Nicos for arranging the trip, and for Ian’s assistance. We appreciate the many hours spent trying to accommodate everyone’s needs. The running achievements, laughter and camaraderie experienced on this trip made life-long memories for GYRR.
Full results below:
Sean Jermy 3.06.40, Phil Quantrill 3.09.04, Vicky Quantrill 3.18.46 (PB), Simon Bekker 3.24.25 (PB), Darren Honour (Bungay Black Dog R.C) 3.41.32, Gary Pillar 3.45.15 (PB), Penny Studley 3.48.22, Nathan Roberts 3.59.36, Dean Saunders 4.03.28, Karen Peck 4.11.56, Anna Coulborn 4.24.45, Nigel Ball 4.31.06, Nicos Symeou 4.36.28, Joe Jermy 4.43.35, Linda Drew 4.54.06, Jane Thomas 4.59.39 and Pandora Buck 5.22.09.
Report by Penny Studley.