Today was the Rome Marathon, 10,000 people puffing and panting past my house … three times as the course design would have it, at 2 kms, 35 kms and 40 kms. The start and finish is on the Fori Imperiali, next to the Colosseum. Our preparation for the event is limited to moving our car off the street the night before and being dressed and outside before the best runners have finished.
Marathon runners are not attractive to look at. Many of them look extremely unhealthy, with shrunken heads and scrawny limbs – and those are the serious runners. Oh the suffering they put themselves through, and for what? They seem to be running to prove to themselves that they are alive. I can think of better, more enjoyable ways of feeling alive, with much less risk of damaging your knees.
Just as we left the house, we saw the inflatable arch marking the 40 km mark beginning to collapse.
Two men were valiantly trying to keep it up with brooms (il genio italiano) but to no avail. The marathon quickly turned into an obstacle course as runners tried to climb over the arch, then were shepherded round to a mini-arch which then also collapsed on their heads, despite a return of the broom engineer.
Immediately after, we heard cries of Medico! and saw a man collapse by the road.
Various medical teams arrived within minutes and tried electrical defibrillation, then intubated him and put in an IV drip.
After that they continued pumping his heart for so long that I can’t imagine he pulled through.
***update 16 Mar 2005***