It was the team social media built. Milano City Marathon (MCM) and I become acquainted with each other on Twitter last year. Always on the lookout for another destination to conquer in my quest to run the world, I became aware of the MCM because of its strong social media presence that included an active Twitter account and Facebook page. The organization asked me to run the marathon, however,knowing that training for that distance during the cold, dark winter months was not going to happen, I suggested the marathon relay instead. I approached 3 other runners who had running blogs and lived in Europe to run with me, and #TeamMoTravels was born.
The team was made up of 4 women, all living in different places, with very full schedules and busy lives, who, with the exception of Renee and I who’d met at a tweet-up for American expats in the Netherlands last year, had never met IRL prior to last weekend. The plan was that we’d meet in Milan the weekend of the race, go to the expo together, maybe do some sight seeing and have a pre-race dinner Saturday, run the race Sunday and have a post race celebration.
Renee and Maya getting acquainted.
The weekend went according to plan: on Friday night, after finally arriving in Milan, Renee and I met up and attended the official opening of marathon village. Saturday we spent the morning on a walking tour of Milan. The tour was brief – just going past a few of Milan’s most popular sites – but since most of the team was only there for the weekend (except for Hanna, who lives in Milan), it was still more of the city than we might have seen otherwise.
The tour was followed by lunch, an afternoon tooling around the race expo and later that evening, the all-important pre-race meal, which Hanna so graciously hosted, with her husband Francesco. The pre-race meal is usually a big carbo-loading affair, and while we did have a carb-rich meal of spaghetti, it was mostly ceremonial, since none of us was running a distance that would require that level of fueling. The main purpose of the pre-race meal was logistical, to figure out each runner’s projected pace so that each runner would know when to be in position for the handoff. In the end, we were all pretty calm about the whole thing and our main goal was to have a good time.
Picking up our race bibs at the expo.
I ran the first leg of the race, and at 13.5 km (8.3 miles), it was the longest. I’m not going to say much about the rain except that it did, it sucked, and life – and the race – went on. But as much as the rain sucked, my portion of the race sucked even more. The race started on the edge of Milan, at the exhibition center Fiera Milano, and took me across highways, past industrial areas and through all manner of really boring terrain. Add to that the lack of crowd support, who were in no doubt scared off by the rain, as were the bands that were scheduled to play along the course, and for the second time that weekend 13 proved to be really lucky for me.
I made it to the end of my leg, and waiting at the first change point was Maya. I handed her the baton (actually, it was a bracelet, but that’s a minor detail) and she took off before I had a chance to pull out my iPhone and snap a photo. I got my bag, put on a dry shirt and went back to my hotel. I wanted to shower, check out and hopefully get back in enough time to see the change over between the last two runners, Hanna and Renee. But between slow metros and that blasted rain, I ended up just going to the finish line, and just missed Renee cross it.
13 kilometers. Done!
We all congregated at the finish line, got our medals and took a photo before Maya left us to find her family. Renee, Hanna, Francesco and I stopped for a quick coffee and gelato before I had to run to catch my plane.
Team Mo Travels l to r: Renee, Hanna, me & Maya. (Photo credit: Maya Dorsey)
While the course definitely ranks among the most visually unappealing I’ve ever run, the race itself was pretty well organized. The refreshment and sponge stations were available every few kilometers, with volunteers quickly passing open water bottles to those who wanted them. The distance markers were visible at every kilometer and bag drop off and retrieval was relatively quick and painless.
The race organizers were very enthusiastic, with great social media engagement as I mentioned before, which helped build excitement for the race. Having entrants vote on Facebook for the race medal, for example, was a really fun way to build momentum for the race. And I was very happy that the medal I voted for won! You know how I like my bling.
I also really enjoyed participating in a relay. It was great to bring 4 people together to pursue a common passion, and I would love to do that again. And since I’ve got 3 new running buddies who are also interested in running the world, I think I just might get Team Mo Travels together again at another starting line somewhere in the world.
Here are the race recaps from the other members of Team Mo Travels:
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