Florence - Italy - 28 November 2004
Each year, the Athletics and Running Section organise a number of running fixtures that form part of their calendar of events. In more recent years some of these trips have ventured far and wide to more exotic locations around Europe. These weekend trips offer an ideal opportunity for members to represent the Club in a competitive sporting event and in addition combine a cultural social activity to destinations that one may not normally venture. Members are often accompanied by there partners or friends.
Florence City - Picture taken from Piazza Michaelangelo, a hill high above the City where the Marathon race started
In November, seven members of the Athletics and Running Section travelled to the Italian City of Florence. Three of the members, DC David Watkinson, PC Steven Broadbent and retired PC Michael Horne entered the Florence Marathon. Mrs Sue Harrison, Ms Julie Yates, Ms Shirley Worrall and PC Graham Street accompanied the party acting as support for the runners. The party was also accompanied by West Yorkshire Police colleague, PC Heather Mitchell who also ran in the marathon event.
We flew from London Stanstead to Pisa on Friday, took a one hour coach trip up to Florence and checked into the Domus Florentiae Hotel. The hotel was just a short stroll from the coach drop off point and well located for the City centre, race start and finish.
When we arrived in Florence we were unsure what the weather would be like on a winter weekend at the end of November. However, we were greeted by dry and fine sunny weather with temperatures of around 9 - 12 degrees - ideal conditions for visiting and marathon running alike.
The runners registered for the race on Saturday morning and the remainder of the day was left for exploring this very charming, rustic and compact Italian City. Most of the sights were in easy walking distance and the looming Christmas festivities added to the overall charm of the place with the inclusion of lights and decorations in the streets and shops.
Sunday - Marathon Race Day
The start of the race was a 15 minute jog or a 30 stroll away from our hotel. Ideal distance to allow us to warm up our legs. The route to the start was via the riverbank and close to the finish where baggage buses were provided to allow runners to deposit their kit bag. This would be collected after the race.
The start was from Piazza Michelangelo on a hill elevated above the City. Buses were provided from the kit drop off point to the hill top. One bus was just about to leave so we took advantage of the facility and spared our legs the 500 foot climb!
Stretching and warming up was still a necessity at the race start. Some 3000 - 4000 runners ran in the race but despite the numbers the area accommodated everyone and things seemed to be very well organised.
Before the race - like coiled springs - David Watkinson, Steve Broadbent, Michael Horne and Heather Mitchell
The race started at 9 am and we all got away well greeted by a very nice down hill gradient for the first two miles. The race meandered along the banks of the River Arno, through the city streets and around the city outskirts. Our support team greeted us at the 13 and 20 mile points. The last few miles of the race ran past the Duomo Cathedral many if the central land marks and finishing in the Piazza di Santa Croce.
Sporting the Club strip, Steve Broadbent passes the Duomo Cathedral at 23 miles
The team all finished the race and were pleased with the results of their efforts.
Steve Broadbent - 3 hours 23 minutes
Michael Horne - 4 hours 17 minutes
David Watkinson - 4 hours 28 minutes
Heather Mitchell - 4 hours 05 minutes
The weekend was rounded off with some excellent eating and drinking, an evening at the Teatro Verdi to see the Hungarian Gyor Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet and Monday saw a flying visit to Pisa to see the 'leaning tower' before our return flight home.
Thinking of Visiting Florence?
Marathon Score Ratings
Registration - 8/10
Start/Finish - 8/10
Course - 8/10
Registration - 6/10
Start/Finish - 8/10
Course - 7/10
Recommended - 8/10
Ryanair Flights - Blackpool - Stanstead - £30
Ryanair Flights - Stanstead - Pisa - £60
Florence Coach Transfer - £10 return
Hotel Room/Breakfast - £60 two persons
Marathon Entry Fee - £40
City Tour Bus - £15
Teatro Verdi Ballet - £15
Hotel Domus Florentiae - Recommended
Contact: Athletics and Running Secretary