Alex Zanardi handbike news from Venice and New York Marathon

Alex Zanardi handbike news from Venice and New York Marathon

08.11.2011: Hi everyone, I just returned from States and I am very happy! First of all I have to explain you one thing: on Sunday 23 October


Hi everyone,

I just returned from States and I am very happy!

First of all I have to explain you one thing: on Sunday 23 October I lived an unforgettable experience with Francesco Canali at the Venice Marathon, the nicest birthday gift I could do to myself.

Unfortunately, once crossed the finish line I was told the terrible news of Marco Simoncelli passing away and honestly I lost all the enthusiasm to tell you this memorable experience in the way it deserved; I will do this in the right time, I promise but today it is not that moment yet.

Something else happened last weekend that I want to talk about: the New York Marathon.

I travelled to States with my family and a bunch of my dearest and nicest friends of mine to make the travel nicer.

We had a lot of fun and, despite a very tight schedule, we managed to do all the things that have to be done in the "Big Apple". A visit to the Liberty Statue and Rockfeller Center, shopping in Times Square, a trip to Central Park. And so on so forth I would add, as in a simple walk about in New York is a special moment, especially if you can share it with people you love and you are well with.

Well, what to say if before coming back home you manage to win a marathon... "the Marathon" in front of your friends and of thousands of people packed around the course?

This is how things went, I won the race I cared a lot about, I won the New York Marathon!

It has not been a walk in the park though. On Friday, when I got my number I also had a look at the entry list and it immediately seemed to be an "easy" one.

In reality, despite the absence of some strong athletes that usually run the race, I did not see the name of Dane Pilon, a strong American athlete on my same category that already won this marathon twice. I realized I had not seen Rafal Wilk's name either, an athlete that is not as strong as Pilon in sprints but that on the distance would have not been an easy one.  That's what I discovered on Sunday.

No worries: in a particularly lucky edition weather-wise, the sun and temperature were excellent and I started the race pushing but in a controlled way.

The start was up-hill: on Verrazzano bridge the course was climbing for more than two kilometers with a slope ranging from 4 to 6%. I set my pace finding myself in front.

As foreseeable, three of us were left on top of the bridge, the three main contenders.

Without pushing too hard in descents and climbing up again on ascending plateaux (the slope of the course is never constant) I warmed the "car" up as best as I could and I admit that I tested several time the resistance of my rivals using nearly all my resources.

I tried to do this on the ascending bits of overpasses, on bridges like the "Pulaski" bridge , that marks half way or on the "Queensboro" taking down to the First avenue.

No way, without excessive efforts I would have not managed to get to Central park alone and therefore I decided to stay put and to control the race waiting for the final sprint.

This is how it went, if I had given everything I would have probably paid the toll of the recent un-constant work when I could not train as I wanted due to the thousand commitments.

However, the sprint is one of the things I do better and reaching the finish line relatively fresh I could have probably played my best cards.

Drama hit while getting to Central Park from Columbus Circle at less than 700 meters to the finish line... on the access ramp a bump made my chain getting off the gear!

Fortunately, Dane Pilon that was following me realized this just a little bit too late.  When he sprinted to take advantage of this I already had managed to put the chain back at its right place and sprinting in turn I got back on to him.

It was still too early for the final sprint and he eased down to check my intentions.

From a certain view-point, this little contingency turned out to be a resource: thanks to this random event we found each other side by side and he could not place himself in my slipstream that was already occupied by the Polish Wilk...

We kept on going studying each other until the sign of the 26th mile, and despite being a bit early he sprinted. I kept close to him, then at 200yards from the line (about 180 meters) I pushed hard overtaking him strongly.

When I knew I was at the finish line we passed over some plastic cable bearers that were quite high that were probably serving the chrono system and behind myself I heard a odd noise!

Pilon must have touched one of these protections with the handles and left the control on his handbike hitting the barriers.

Obviously I am sorry for this and now that I am writing I am unaware of his conditions; hopefully he did just ended up with a few bruises and a race that did not finish in the way he hoped for.

Things went well for me instead and I am really happy for the result, for triumphing in a country that gave me a lot and that did not forget what I have done in the past at a sportive level, judging from how many times my name was shouted from people along the course: this really warms my heart.

Now I switch my mind to the role of TV presenter, or "moderator" that I believe describing my role more appropriately.

This week I will be busy with the exceptional team of "What if tomorrow" to record the first episode that will be broadcast next Saturday 12 at 21.30 GMT+2 on Italian RAI 3... do follow me... I will wait for you!


Alex Zanardi



photo Alberto Brojanigo


08.11.2011 / MaP

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