20 MARATHONS IN 29 DAYS

M

y first OUTRUNCANCER event to raise money for cancer research and prevention.
This is where it all started. This is the challenge and the experience that changed my outlook to life, the world and myself.
Completing the 20 marathons has convinced me that limits are only a product of our own minds and that we can actually achieve anything we want given the right motivation.
I now believe we can become whoever we want to be and that we can exceed our own expectations.

If we just genuinely try.

The challenge was to run one marathon (42.2km) in each of the 20 Italian regions, in 29 days. A total of 844 kilometers, or five marathons a week for four weeks.

luca-running-in-italy-lonelyLuca running in Italy duringhis 20 marathons challenge

I choose to run marathons because … it’s a bloody long distance but still something achievable by anyone that is committed enough. Not that I could talk from experience because when I committed to the challenge, I had not yet run one, but I was sure I had the right motivation to get me to the finish line. And it was the perfect parallel to cancer research, it doesn’t matter how far the finish line is – beating cancer – one step at the time, we will get there. And we can all get there.
I wanted to run in each region in Italy and raise money for an Australian charity, because in the same way cancer doesn’t look what nationality you are, if you are from south or from north, from Italy or Australia, our fight and research for a cure should be without boundary.

This challenge opened a window on the limitless opportunities the world offers when you follow your passions and embrace your cause.

  WHEN I DECIDED TO TAKE ON THIS CHALLENGE I HAD NOT YET RUN ONE MARATHON, SO I HAD NO LIMITING BELIEFS TO HOLD ME BACK.
IN MY MIND IT WAS CLEAR WHY I WAS RUNNING AND THAT WAS ALL THAT MATTERED.

Luca running in Italy during his 20 marathons challenge

Luca and Lidia running in Italy

THE STAGES

The OUTRUN CANCER marathons started on Sunday March 18th, 2012 with the Rome marathon and finished on Sunday April 15th 2012 with the Milan Marathon. The first and last run were official marathons while the remaining 18 were mapped by me and the distance tracked by my Garmin GPS watch. In a few occasions I ended up running further than the minimum 42.2km, never under.

My initial idea was to run 29 marathons in 29 days touching on all Italian regions. Only after working out the amount of driving involved, I reduced the number to 20. Plus it made more sense to do a symbolic marathon in each region rather than being inconsistent with more runs in some regions and less in others. And thank God for that decision. We ended up driving over 6,000km, 5 to 6 hours per day.

Some runs went smoothly and felt “easy”, others didn’t go so well. I got lost a few times, I ran out of food, water and energy on different occasions.

I battled the heat, the rain, the wind. I ran on marathon circuits, busy roads, empty roads, trails and a bit of sand. Alone, with Lidia, with friends, family, other cyclists. Even with a lunatic dog that ran next to me for almost an hour before giving up. And any muscle that could hurt, did hurt at some stage. But I never ever doubted that I could make it to the end.

I woke up every day, with an energy and a positive attitude I didn’t even know I had. It was that feeling of doing something special, running for a cause bigger than myself.
Without a doubt, this was one of the best experiences of my life.

MarathonDateDayRegionCityTimeBlogGarmin GPS
118/03/2012SundayLazioRoma4:19HereHere
219/03/2012MondaySardegnaCagliari4:35HereHere
321/03/2012WednesdayCampaniaBacoli4:13HereHere
423/03/2012FridayBasilicataPolicoro4:22HereHere
524/03/2012SaturdayCalabriaSan Ferdinando4:17HereHere
625/03/2012SundaySiciliaMarina di Ragusa4:14HereHere
728/03/2012WednesdayPugliaLesina4:03HereHere
830/03/2012FridayMoliseTermoli4:06HereHere
931/03/2012SaturdayMarcheAncona4:14HereHere
101/04/2012SundayAbruzzoPescara4:08Here Here
113/04/2012TuesdayUmbriaTrasimeno3:59Here Here
124/04/2012WednesdayToscanaViareggio3:51Here Here
136/04/2012FridayLiguriaGenova4:09Here Here
147/04/2012SaturdayPiemonteNovara4:12HereHere
158/04/2012SundayValle d'AostaAosta4:06HereHere
1610/04/2012TuesdayTrentino A.G.Trento3:44HereHere
1711/04/2012WednesdayFriuli V.G.Lignano3:52HereHere
1812/04/2012ThursdayEmilia R.Comacchio3:57HereHere
1914/04/2012SaturdayVenetoBovolone3:50HereHere
2015/04/2012SundayLombardiaMilano3:15HereHere

Pictures are available on our Facebook page.
All the videos on our YouTube Playlist

THE AFTERMATH

A month before commencing my 20 marathons challenge, I had injured myself. Typical case of over training. In a walking boot as my injury get more serious

I had an acute case of Plantar Fasciitis… let’s just say a bummer of an injury that feels pretty much like a blade going through the plantar of your foot at every step.
I had a cortisone injection and that masked the inflammation and allowed me to complete my runs with a manageable level of pain.

Two days after my last run, literally, I couldn’t stand on my feet for longer than 10 minutes. The injury had aggravated and had become chronic.
I spent a few weeks in a moon boot and tried pretty much any treatment available. It took me eight months to recover and be back running. Record time accordingly to my sport doctor which initial prognosis was from 12 to 18 months.

The eight months without running were hard and, I must admit, I got a bit depressed. But what kept me going and I think helped my ailment, was the realisation I had done something great. Not the running bit. I had stepped up and took responsibility for what I believed in: that we can fight cancer before being affected.

And that I can make a difference, raising funds for research, spreading awareness and inspiring others to look at what changes they can make to their lifestyle to live a cancer free life.

With the new year (2013), I started running regularly again. And all the challenges and crazy ideas are back on the table!
BRING IT ON!