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
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
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.
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.
Broadbent - 3 hours 23 minutes
Horne - 4 hours 17 minutes
Watkinson - 4 hours 28 minutes
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
Registration - 8/10
Start/Finish - 8/10
Course - 8/10
Registration - 6/10
Start/Finish - 8/10
Course - 7/10
Recommended - 8/10
Flights - Blackpool - Stanstead - £30
Flights - Stanstead - Pisa - £60
Coach Transfer - £10 return
Room/Breakfast - £60 two persons
Entry Fee - £40
Bus - £15
Verdi Ballet - £15
Hotel Domus Florentiae - Recommended