Saturday, April 11, 2015

We survive the “Run with Paolo” course, an annual Montecarlo event

Halfway through the course, with Montecarlo in the background. I should add that we are standing on a hill, with me on the uphill side. Our friends are not really midgets.
Every April in Montecarlo, we see signs that encourage us to “Corri con Paolo,” and we finally did it. Today we joined hundreds of locals on a six-kilometer jog/stroll through the hillsides surrounding the city in a fund-raiser for juvenile cancer victims and their families.

Young Paolo Pieraccini lost his battle with cancer in 2010, and a group called Amici di Paolo started the annual event the next year. Local businesses donate prizes for the participants, who can chose to walk or run three different non-competitive courses of 2, 6 or 10 kilometers. No times are recorded. A small gift bag is given to every participant, and the largest groups receive an additional gift. We also received water or tea and a variety of snacks at the five-kilometer mark and again at the end.

Our "prize" hats for entering the raffle.
We were entertained before and after the event by clowns and musicians. The entry fee was a ridiculously low 3 euro. Obviously this encouraged a high participation rate, but in my opinion, they could have easily doubled or tripled the fee without losing anyone.

We were joined by a couple we had met in February on our tour of Sicily, Michael and Donna Pilletere, who live in Lucca. Like me, Michael is a dual citizen, and he and Donna chose last year to make Italy their permanent home. Having friends accompany us doubled the enjoyment.
At the 5-kilometer point, it's all uphill.

Montecarlo is a hilltop city in an area of Tuscany famous for wine and olive oil, so if you think that the hike would be quite a feast for the eyes, you’d be correct. 
During the first five kilometers, we trekked downhill on winding paved roads and then dirt trails, seeing Montecarlo from angles that were previously unfamiliar to us. The first five kilometers were a piece of torta, so to speak—all downhill. The last kilometer—well , you can figure it out for yourself. What goes up must go down, and the reverse is also true. That’s why they offered refreshments at the five-kilometer mark and not halfway through the course.

The sign was not encouraging.
Nonetheless, we made it back to the top and worked our way through the throng to receive our gift bags and more drinks and goodies. We also entered a raffle for a chance at more prizes, but the only things we won were collapsible nylon hats given to everyone who bought at least five raffle tickets. We hope to make this an annual event for us as well, only next time we will try to involve more friends so we can qualify for a group prize.
Balloons and cheering admirers greeted us at the finish line. Well, we cheered for ourselves, at least.

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