A fantastic 25 km race started from the historical “Arena Civica”, a multipurpose stadium which was opened in 1807 as an Amphitheatre and later on transformed in Arena Civica after having been handed over to Milan Municipality. In 1895 the Arena opened its doors to modern sports, including Italian Cycling Championships. In 1910, it was the debut place for the Italian-French football match, where the Azzurri beat their rivals with 6-2. In the first half of the nineteenth century, between 1930 and 1947, the Arena hosted Inter domestic football matches. For a short period, from October 1941 up to June 1945, the place was the stadium of the Milan team, which is the second football team in the city.

“My race” was a triumph of affections and emotions, starting from the entrance of Arena where I met two friends I hadn’t seen for so many years since many years: Antonio Capasso, “Andò” the photographer of the event and Antonio Calò, a dear friend of mine who, when I called his name, he he turned round shouting: “Noo a ghost from Dubai”. Shortly afterwards, I met two more friends: Giovanni Milazzo from GM Comunicazioni, who takes care of Salomon press office and who had invited me to participate to this event, and Luca Tavian and Augusto Prati from Salomon.

Thriving emotions filled my race, starting from the front-line and passing by the trail to Citylife just outside the Allianz Tower. Both moments were immortalised with pictures taken by photographer Cristina Risciglione.

It was my first run to “Montagnetta”. Before that day, I had just heard of that name which is famous for being the place where Alberto Cova (former middle distance runner and Olympic Champion of 100 thousand metres in Los Angeles 1984) had achieved lots of his winnings. But, hold on, of course I am not comparing myself to this champion, and would not ever intend to.

I am overwhelmed with strange feelings and with reactions to the trail and to the evolution of the race as a whole, which was easy at the beginning where the ground was flat. However, later on I suffered from a discomfort in my left knee, then in the left and also in my back. I believe this was caused by a period full of races and hard trainings. These pains started to diminish and then fully disappeared half-way when the race became harder.

The Arena has also been the race finish point, after a magnificent trail winding across the city of Milan for about 25 km, giving all the participants the possibility to explore wonderful views of the city: the Duomo, the roads in the centre of town, and the Sforzesco castle. The central part of the trail wasn “La Montagnetta”, a 50 meters high artificial little mountain in the North-West part of Milan, in QT8 urban area, which is also known as “Monte Stella” or “Montagnetta di San Siro”. It is a little hill initially built with the rubble caused by the bombing of the Anglo American forces during World War II, and with other materials coming from the partial demolition of the last city walls which took place after 1945. The project was designed by the architect Piero Bottoni, who dedicated it to his wife Elsa Stella, after who the hill is named. With the exception of the little wood, with its wild flora, the hill has greenery similar to that of the other city parks, represented by tall trees in between wide lawns and rest areas.

It is not an unusual thing to see VIPs whether natives in Milan or living there, training in the place. Among those VIPs I may mention Giovanni Storti (from the comic trio Aldo Giovanni and Giacomo) who is a committed ultra-marathoner.

The way to “Montagnetta” was a muddy and slippery trail caused by the heavy rain of the night before. This made it difficult for the athletes to reach the Milan City Fair and Citylife area where they faced the toughest challenge, that of climbing 23 floors inside the Allianz Tower, and of running the last kilometres to reach the finishing line inside the Arena.

The only thing I was worried about was the” big challenge”: the 23 floors skyscraper climb, which turned up to be the part I managed the best. Maybe this happened because of my habit of climbing stairs and of having participated in other Vertical Marathons, or due the several trainings I had in the mountainous areas and the good management of my energies.

I guess all these factors helped me to easily climb the 23 floors and to outdo the other competitors both uphill and downhill.

Finally, here I am returning to the Arena, to enjoy the well-deserved walk under the inflatable finish line. My legs have run another 25 km that nobody can ever deprive me of (quote: Max Calderan)!

Time to the well-deserved relax, at least today, with an eye to my next challenge…