The finisher’s shirt is a runner’s treasure. Just like the finisher’s medal, these blings are earned, never given. When the shirt is designed by Giorgio Armani, the shirt becomes even more highly coveted especially by fashionista runners. The shirt had a simple design but hey, it’s by Armani and it was all the impetus I needed to register for this marathon.
Emporio Armani was the main sponsor of the 17th Milano Marathon 2017, along with Huawei, Citroen, Under Armour, Suisse Gas, and Europ Assistance. The other official sponsors were generous with their giveaways too. The goodie bag groaned with the weight of two Rio More Leggero tuna tins, Enervit sports gel, Nuncas sports wear detergent, Salvelox blister pack, Milleusi handy wipes, Extra gum, Meritene protein drinks and chocolates and juices, iPer pear juice box, Levissima bottled water, two mango yogurt, Lierac beauty serum treatment pack, Vurisac trash bags, Europ Assistance balm, RDS lanyard, Immun’Age drink, a free pass on all public transportation on marathon day, and two sponges.
The 66€ registration is definitely worth it when you get all these freebies before the race start. I got another goodie bag when I crossed the finish line and it contained an orange, an apple, banana, cracker, bread, and Enervit sport drink.
Richard and I took the 6:20 Ryanair flight from Brussels South Charleroi Airport to Milan Bergamo International Airport on Saturday, April 1, 2017. After a short 1.5 hour flight, we were on the the Orio shuttle bus to Milan central station. There are several buses lined up outside the terminal bound for other destinations too. You can pay 5€ per person as you board the bus but I was glad I already paid for our tickets on Orio’s website because it was cheaper at 4.50€ per person. The buses leave for the central station every 20-30 minutes for the 50 minute trip to Milan.
From Milan central station, we purchased a subway day pass for 4.50€ each. It was two stops on the green line to Garibaldi and four stops on the purple line to Domodossola to get to the Marathon Village in Milan’s MiCo LAB. The expo was open early at 9:00 AM and there was no line to get in.
We made our way to our hotel also by subway. It was three stops on the purple line to Lotto, and eight stops to Duomo on the red line. I just love subways! It makes moving around very convenient.
We were booked at Hotel Ambasciatori 200 meters away from the metro stop. The hotel was a block behind the Duomo di Milano and a few steps away from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The room was big, and the ensuite bathroom was probably bigger. We had separate shower and bathtub areas, an enclosed toilet and bidet, two bathroom sinks, and spacious closets. Our room also had a balcony overlooking a small piazza. The hotel thoughtfully left a welcome gift for us.
What was convenient was the start and finish line of the marathon only a few meters away. What was inconvenient was that drooling feeling you get when you pass by the stores of all possible haute couture brands known to man. Milan, after all, is one of the fashion capitals of the world and the economic capital of Italy. A storefront presence in the main shopping area of the city is a must.
Check-in time at European hotels is not until 2:00 PM so we had three hours to kill. We ate a leisurely lunch at one of the street cafes. I ordered a macchiato and salmon pasta while Richard ordered a large beer and a margarita pizza. The beer not large, it was huge!
I drooled some more as we walked around the shopping areas. I was here to run the marathon and not to go shopping so I did pretty good when I survived the window shopping with no purchases.
We then proceeded to visit the most photographed structure in Milan, the cathedral. I was hoping to attend mass but the service was only on Saturday mornings. The next masses were scheduled the following day. In the meantime, we admired the incredible detail of the many statues and the massive door.
We stopped by Simply Supermarket at the next block to buy water and other basic provisions. I saw a group of Filipinos outside a church at the next corner. Milan has a big number of Filipino migrants and I was keen to get to know some of them while we were here. There was indeed a kumpisalan ng bayan (confessions of the city) happening at the Parrocchia di Santo Stefano Maggiore. They were very warm and welcoming, offering us hot ginger tea and plum cake, as well as inviting us to attend the Tagalog mass the following day at 12:30 or 4:30 PM. We planned to attend the mass at the Duomo but I could not pass up the chance to attend a Tagalog mass in Italy so we said yes.
Dinner was early and we called it a night. We woke up at 7:00 AM on Sunday for the buffet breakfast and slowly get ready for the race at 9:30 AM at Corso Venezia.
There were 5,304 marathoners lined up according to colored starting blocks. 2,738 relay marathon groups were also running the same course. The route was flat and beautiful with a six-hour time limit. We passed by the Duomo at the 7K mark, the Teatro La Scala, and the Caballo de Leonardo, among other historical and modern structures.
The aid stations every 5K were fully stocked with water, Enervit sports drink, apples, oranges, and lemons. The volunteers were very kind and helpful. Porta potties were easily available. The weather was gorgeous, perfect for running. I wore a plastic bag over my shirt at the start because it was cold, but it warmed enough later in the day for me to take it off before the halfway mark.
Entertainment was provided at strategic points in the race. I noticed though that there were no drum lines. Instead, they featured bands and solo singers.
Richard was waiting for me at the finish line and took some photos of his favorite subject.
We made our way back to the hotel after passing through the finishing chute, stopping by one of the carts to get two scoops of ice cream in my favorite pistachio flavor for 3€.
I took my time in the shower and got dressed for the Tagalog mass at 4:30 PM.
Nine Filipino priests are assigned to serve at the Parrocchia di Santo Stefano Maggiore. The church was filled with Filipinos, with Richard the only possible exception. The mass was solemn and beautiful. The parishioners were dressed conservatively and one of the usherettes took notice of my capri pants. Oops! I have to remember to bring long pants for mass this spring and summer.
I made small talk after the mass with the Filipina sitting next to me. Ate Zeny has been in the city for 10 years now and works at Dolce and Gabbana. We exchanged email addresses and became friends on Facebook. I was excited at being around Filipinos and I forgot to have my photo taken with my new friend!
Just like any church in the Philippines, the small plaza outside the church had vendors selling Filipino sweets. I bought turon (fried banana roll), palabok (Filipino noodles), and kuchinta (rice cakes). Yum! They were also selling siopao (steamed bun), longganisa (Filipino style sausage), and boiled corn. I was full by the time we got back to the hotel. So full that the food we ate outside the church was enough as dinner.
We woke up early the next morning to take a cab (14€) to the central station and catch the pre-dawn Orio shuttle to the airport. We were back in Brussels on Monday, April 3, 2017. Yes, I will treasure my haute couture finisher’s shirt!