XVI Rome’s Marathon: a tribute to Abebe Bikila

Yesterday more than 15.000 people ran XVI Rome’s Marathon.  Even though  this race is not famous as the NYC Marathon, probably it is one of most spectacular.

It provides the runners unique historical surroundings. It starts beside Colosseum, then it takes place all along the main sites, so that you have the chance to run into history.

As I’m not a runner, my attention is focused on the social event. So that I was so moved by the winner and his tribute to another unforgettable Ethiopian runner: Abebe Bikila.

After 50 years from the triumph of Abebe Bikila at Rome Olympic Games held in 1960, the Ethiopian Siraj Gena won the 16th edition of the Marathon, dedicated to the legendary champion. 500 metres before finishing the race, he took off his shoes, and ran barefoot, like Abebe Bikila in 1960.

Looking at the images of this event, I recollected my experience in Konso, a small Ethiopian village. It was August 2005, and I was there as a tour guide after a trip all along Omo river valley. Our accommodation was in a small and simple guest house, where the people from the village used to watch TV. We attended with them the Athletics World Championship: 5.000 metres final race, a big challenge between Kenya and Ethiopia, which ended in a sprint for the line in the last lap.

I remember the room full of young men, their passion, the importance of the race, the ‘electric’ atmosphere, the excitement while waiting for the start.

I realized that only sports like running, marathons, can give a chance in a poor country. There’s no need of expensive equipment or famous trainers as in other sports.

The winner becomes a real symbol for all the people. Here a race can be really worthwhile.

Thank you guys, for this lesson …