There is an Italy still to be discovered, ready to slow down, to talk about itself, to share its beauties and its territories. It is the Italy experienced by the endurance athlete Stefano Gregoretti and imagined by the organizers of the Italy Divide, the gravel bike race along the white roads and Italian paths to be tackled in self-sufficiency. «When they offered me to test the route, I immediately accepted and threw myself into this new experience» explains Gregoretti. The idea on the part of the organizers was to enrich the event with a trail race, the longest in the world, which would follow the one designed for cycling. An adventure along one of the longest routes in Europe that starts from Pompeii and reaches Torbole, on Lake Garda, after 1200 kilometers of pedaling and 22,000 meters of elevation gain.
A unique race
Gregoretti, however, studied the course with a different approach, more suited to runners. «The route of the Italy Divide is designed for those who ride a bike and for this reason I didn’t have to follow it faithfully – he says -. The bike gives you a lot of freedom, it allows you to visit the whole world, but it has the limit of roads and paths. Running, on the other hand, is absolute freedom“. However, the undertaking could not yet be considered complete, Stefano has in fact decided to reach the start and then return home by bike, thus creating a zero-emission enterprise, as if running from south to north through the Italian hinterland would not was enough. The result was a unique race course in the world. «You pass from Vesuvius to the history of Pompeii. Experience the Castelli Romani, the Circeo, Rome with its millenary history – Gregoretti says – then Siena, Florence where you run on the Ponte Vecchio, walk along the Via degli Dei, cross the very long cycle paths of the Mincio, then the Lessini Mountains and Lake Garda . If you want to struggle, it’s a unique race of its kind ».
Places and new friends
Starting on July 3 from Pompeii, Gregoretti ran and walked for 50 or 60 kilometers a day and every day, along his path, he found supporters and enthusiasts who told him about their territory, guided him on the most beautiful roads and are stood by showing him the many wonders that Italy has to offer. There were no real travel plans apart from the alarm clock, breakfast and the road to face, with moments of sharing and others of rest according to the sensations. «Every day I met new friends, eager to introduce me to their territory, to share, to run together for a few kilometers – Stefano’s words -. We are all Italians, but the regionality, the sense of belonging, is strong. Running across Vesuvius without someone who trains every day on those paths is like going to the Uffizi Gallery and not knowing anything about art, you lose something. The deviations from the route arrive in fact with the suggestions of the locals, because some places are not to be missed».
His “tour of Italy”, as Stefano called it, was the story of a journey on a human scale, in total freedom and ready to be surprised and guided. On July 21, around noon, the end of this adventure and the ultra-athlete’s first hot comment was: “There is no such thing in the world», This before taking the bike and returning home in 12h, to really write the end of his business.
August 5, 2021 (change August 5, 2021 | 20:00)
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