Hello from southern Italy. I’m spending the week in Puglia with Matt and his family.Sunday afternoon, we were having a late lunch in the center of Ostuni, a beautiful town inhabited since the Stone Age and known for it’s old white buildings and skinny winding side streets. The historic center, where we were eating, is a fort-like and on top of a hill.
Across the piazza, we saw what looked like a race finish line. So, of course we inquired about it. Matt’s mom speaks fluent Italian, which comes in handy. We found out Ostuni, a town of about 30,000 inhabitants was having a 5K at 8pm tonight. The race leaders were expecting about 200 participants, and now they had 4 more. Matt, Dana (Matt’s sister), Gail (Matt’s mom) and I signed up. Robert, Matt’s dad was cheer captain and dutiful bag holder.
We were given very cool red race shirts that I can’t wait to sport on my next run through Central Park. Ostuni is incredible hilly and the streets are made of choppy cobble stone and what looks like a slippery limestone, so we knew this would be a challenging 5K, even if it was untimed. At 7:20pm-ish we returned to Ostuni center where the piazza was bustling with racers. Since it was night, we were given glow sticks to wear.
At 8pm we were off running up and down the steep slippery hills of historic Ostuni. The course was incredibly tough given the inclines. I had little confidence in my footing since the ground was uneven and the course dark. But the views of the night sky and lighted buildings in the distance were unparalleled. At many of the highest heights you were awarded with wide vantage points of the starlight hillside.
Dana ended up coming in second out of all of the women, and won a trophy and gift basket at an award ceremony. (I have since eaten a considerable chunk of her winnings.) Awards were given to both the fastest and the slowest runners, both categories yielded equal enthusiasm from the happy crowd. Everyone seemed to know each other.
All the runners were given a coupon for free pasta at a local shop and we enjoyed some live music and delicious pasta on the steps of the old town well into the night.This was such a magical experience and totally just a result of being in the right place at the right time.
Have you ever run a race abroad? Have you ever signed up for a race the same day it took place?