This sporting phenomenon of the people brings the masses together in a friendly atmosphere for exercise and fresh air.
The lives of the people of Milan once revolved around sales and their homes, but it has helped them to look beyond these narrow confines. They still rush around, but now they do it in their trainers and fill the city with spontaneous high spirits as they take part in Milan’s favourite mass sporting event. It has earned its place in the history of Milan, so ladies and gentlemen, here is the Stramilano: the Stramilano of the 50,000.
The idea of the Stramilano emerged from a 43 km night-time “fun walk” between Milan and Proserpio that Renato Cepparo organized for his family and friends.
The first edition set off from the oratory on Viale Suzzani on a Tuesday night in 1972. It covered a 24.7 km route on the large city ring road and was organized with friends from the Fior di Roccia climbing group, who were devoted to climbing and sport. So it was that the genuine, unadulterated pleasures of a friendly gang of Milanese crackpots kick-started the era of non-competitive events with the first Italian fun run: the Stramilano.
At the start, 3,000 additional people tagged along with the 3,500 officially permitted participants.
Despite the fact that this epic first Stramilano was billed as a fun run, some well established Italian athletes wanted to take part. Furthermore, a marathon runner from Cortina d’Ampezzo named De Menego actually qualified for the marathon at the Munich Olympics thanks to his performance in the event.
The oblivious exponents of jogging and amateur sports were astonished by the unexpected, growing response from the fun runners of the public, but they have carried on relentlessly and now reached the 44th event.
Start in Piazza Duomo: the thunder of the horse artillery regiment’s cannon and the ever-present fanfare of the bersaglieri (infantry who always run, making them the perfect fit for the Stramilano) are the legendary sounds that get the 50,000 participants on the road. It does not matter whether they run, walk or plod, there is a warm community spirit as they count down the 10 km to the Arena Civica, where they can collect their medals and enjoy the refreshments, the band and the satisfaction of achieving their goal of reaching the finishing line.
While the organizers did not know it when the participants set off from the oratory on Viale Suzzani, they would soon be making a significant addition to the FIDAL calendar, when the Stramilano International Half Marathon (21.097 km) was launched in 1976.
This competitive event went hand in hand with the flourishing fun run and its 50,000 participants. It is an event within the event that attracts Olympic champions and world record holders that have earned their places in athletics history every year, but it still stays true to its illustrious roots as the people’s race.
The legendary cannon also booms as world-class athletes (it is breathtaking to see them all warming up together and going back and forth along the road opposite Sforza Castle) are joined by throngs of enthusiastic amateurs who wear their numbered bibs with pride and strive for a new personal best.
The traditional participation of athletes from the Italian army is a source of great prestige for the Stramilano Half Marathon.
Since 1996, medical and logistic support has been provided for competitors thanks to the partnership between the Stramilano and the Italian Red Cross.
The real stars of the Stramilano are the youngsters, with their infectiously cheerful and light-hearted approach to the event.
The joy of the young athletes fills the air of the Stramilanina. It is tailor-made for children, as well as adults who want to take it easy! For an hour or so they give the adults a run for their money as they hare along their short 5 km route from Piazza Duomo to the Arena Civica, stopping off to enjoy a snack after two kilometres before speeding off again to claim their medals.
The eyes of the public and the organizers are all on them. As they proudly wear their bibs and t-shirts, they teach the adults that running with a smile on your face is good for the body and even better for the soul.
So run your hearts out boys and girls. The big city of Milan is waiting for you!
View the photo gallery of the Stramilano Story.