On Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd October, 700 trekkers put their best foot forward to take part in the Francigena Ultramarathon, the 4 routes along the Via Francigena between Tuscany and Lazio.
Many municipal administrators were present who wanted to display their interest and attention for the pilgrims and travellers of the Via Francigena. The mayor of Siena, Valentini, took part in the Siena to Buonconvento (32km) route, as well as council members Pallai, Mazzini, Maggi and Tarquini. The mayor of Gambassi, Campinoti, was also present. As for the night-time tract from San Quirico to Acquapendente, mayor Agnelli of San Quirico and council member of Acquesano, Crisanti took part. Council member Meloni of Acquapendente completed the last tract of 32km departing from Radicofani.
The president of the European Association of the Vie Francigene, Massimo Tedeschi, bid farewell to the departing pilgrims, while the EAVF staff (Bruschi, Tawfik, Faravelli and Concari) faced the first route of 32km.
The organisation of the 'World Francigena Ultramarathon' was a real success, the first marathon for hikers with 4 slow routes through Tuscany and Lazio. Many passionate people took it upon themselves to walk the 120km from Siena to Acquapendente: a physical and sporting feat. The eyes of hikers fixed on the finish line of their destination were shining with emotion having completed this wonderful experience, of exertion, heart and generosity.
An event that managed to bring together ten municipalities and associations guided by the administrations of Acquapendente and Siena, promoters of the two days. The 'Via Francigena Ultramarathon' showed, once again, the potential of the Via Francigena as an extraordinary element, able to unite areas through favouring development on a local scale. As in this case, starting from a sportive event of an interregional nature.
The start of the 120km non-stop Siena to Acquapendente was in Piazza Duomo, on a lovely autumnal day: at the starting line were many smiles, friends, and a shared spirit. The hike of 32km from Siena to Buonconvento started simultaneously. Those starting from San Quirico however, departed on the evening of Saturday 21st October, while the last group of trekkers started their hike on Sunday 22nd October from Radicofani to Acquapendente, like the others.
The work and operating support of Protezione Civile, Polizia Municipale, Croce Rossa and gruppi trekking was excellent.
It is an event to be repeated for years to come, it will bring many people together and closer to the Via Francigena. The best promotional ambassadors will certainly be the 701 pilgrims who participated in the debut event.
The Francigena Ultramarathon was deemed a "crazy foolish vision" due to the complexity of its organisation. The proposal (or the challenge) was launched by the tireless Sergio Pieri of Acquapendente at the end of last year. Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of many people, it became a reality and the battle was won. We await next year’s edition.