Can you run 100 km? And if you could, what would be the best race to run 100 km for the first time?
That was the same question I kept asking myself after my friends announced that they will run Passatore 100 km race next spring. Even though I’ve done quite a few ultra-trail races, the thought of running 100 km on the road seemed scary to say the least.
But then I started thinking about it from a different angle. It’s true that to be able to really run the whole 100 km race is not an easy mission at all and one which might not be achieved by many. But, to participate in and finish one of the most beautiful 100 km road races in the world is definitely something I could do.
Passatore is an epic 100 km road race that takes place in Italy. The race is held on the last Saturday of May with a start in Florence and finish in Faenza.
Passatore 100 km has a huge number of participants which is something you wouldn’t expect for such a long and, to be honest, a hard race. But there is this belief that whoever can finish a marathon, can also finish Passatore and so around 3,000 runners each year embark on this crazy 100 km journey across Italy.
The race passes through many small towns and 23 refreshment points are organized along the way (each is less than 5 km away). That means that you don’t need to carry much with you if anything at all. This is a quite big difference from ultra-trail races where you need to be more self-sufficient.
Another very interesting thing is that there are a lot of cyclists following their fellow runners and acting as their support. They also carry additional clothes for them, food, medication, supplements and so on.
Speed doesn’t matter
The limit restrictions are really loose and it seems that the majority of participants are on the slower side with their main goal being to finish the race. This is one of the reasons why Passatore is the best race to run 100 km because if only the fast runners had a chance to finish the race then it would be a very small race. This way it’s a huge event with all the small towns participating in the organization of refreshment points. There are also many spectators cheering on the runners and admiring their courage to go on such a journey.
With a limit of 20 hours which converts to 5 km per hour, Passatore is almost “walkable”. Only about 15% of the runners finish the race in less than 12 hours and about 50% of them in less than 15 hours. So you don’t need to worry about the time limit cut-offs and can focus on enjoying the race as much as possible.
So yes, if you’ve ever considered going on a 100km road race then Passatore is an amazing opportunity for that.
Women and ultras love each other
In general, women react to long distances much better than men do. The gap between men’s and women’s world records narrows as the distances get longer. It has a lot to do with how our bodies are made, but many say it’s also because women aren’t bothered so much with the feeling of suffering during a long race.
I must say that this was very much true for our group as well no matter the runners’ individual speed. It just seemed that the women performed better than expected and their overall feeling during the race was much more enjoyable.
So if you’re a woman and you’re not sure if long distance races might be for you, you might be in for a big surprise. So don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you.
Passatore starting point is next to the magnificent Duomo in Florence with 3,000 runners from all over the world. You all set off together on this exciting journey toward Faenza.
The route itself is very beautiful and interesting and a good way to look at it is by dividing it into sections:
SECTION 1: WARM UP
As soon as you leave from Florence, the route will take you uphill. The first 16,5 km are quite hilly and offer some beautiful views over Florence. It’s a great time to relax and enjoy running in this wonderful atmosphere. Definitely switch to walking in as many places as you feel necessary. This is just the beginning of the race and you want to keep energy for later stages as well.
SECTION 2: LET GO
After reaching Vella le Croci at 16,5 km mark, the route descends during the next 15 km all the way until Borgo san Lorenzo at 31,5 km mark. It’s a great time to enjoy running downhill and gaining some speed. The kilometers will pass by quickly and you will feel strong. Make sure to resist the urge to run too fast as this might create problems for you at later stages of the race.
SECTION 3: CLIMB TO THE TOP
After passing Borgo San Lorenzo at 31,5 km mark you have the following 16,5 km going uphill. The first 8 km are a bit gentler and then you have 9 km of a quite steep road with about 5%-7% gradient.
Nature is beautiful and you are surrounded by a deep forest. Unless you’re a really strong runner, the best thing is to pass this part by walking. You can still keep a good pace and not waste your energy. The weather in May is usually very hot. So you will be happy to finally feel the cool air as you climb to the top of the passage.
SECTION 4: TIME TO START THE RACE
Passo della Colla di Casaglia is located at 48 km mark and at 913 m altitude. It’s considered as the halfway mark and that the hard part of the race is over. This is also where your transition bag will be waiting for you. Depending on your pace so far, the night will be falling soon or has already started to. So make sure to take a headlamp with you.
After refreshing yourself a bit, it is finally the time to start the race.
The route continues downhill for the next 22 kilometers all the way until the 70 km mark at Sant Adriano. Now is the time to let gravity do its thing and to use some of that energy you’ve been saving. Even though you’ve already been in the race for a long time you’re going to feel energized and enjoy running in the night.
SECTION 5: THE FINAL STRETCH
After passing Sant Adriano at 70 km mark the route will become mostly flat with a few uphills and downhills here and there. Even though the route looks like going downhill, you won’t feel it that much.
This is where all your previous training and experience will come into play. You might surprise yourself with how much energy you still have left and are able to finish strong.
But even if you feel quite drained and the thought of running 30 more kilometers terrifies you, simply switch to combining walking with running. For example, run for 5 minutes and then reward yourself with walking for the next 2 minutes. Or whichever combination you can manage.
But either way, you will get there! You will reach the finish line because there is absolutely no reason not to.
Just keep going!
And remember, there are probably hundreds of people still behind you.
So are you ready?
All the hard training and race preparations we did totally paid off and made us better runners. My experience at Passatore 100km was amazing and all my friends loved it as well!
Actually, all of them said that they’re planning to go next year as well and that this must be the best race to run 100 km!
You can check out here the Passatore official website.
If you like ultras, but you prefer trail rather than a road race, check out my article about the beautiful Madeira and should you run the Madeira island ultra trail.