Venice is a city like any other city in the world, with residents who like to practice sports and watch sports games. This makes it an authentic city and different from a purely touristic attraction. One of the major sports events in Venice, besides the regatas, is the Venice Marathon. There is also a good soccer team and two basketball teams which compete at a high level in Italy. Why not attend one of their games on your next trip? I am personally very interested in sports, so I always check the sports related activities within a city on my holidays. It’s a perfect way to get to know the ‘real’ city. This post gives you information on the upcoming Venice Marathon, on the urban night trail and on the basketball and soccer teams of Venice. This gives you the choice to either participate or cheer when you’re in Venice.
The Venice Marathon
October 22, 2017
The Venice Marathon is an unique opportunity for a spectacular run through Venice. It exists since 1986 and has become one of the most popular international marathons. The Venice Marathon is also certified with the IAAF Silver Label. This year, 8,000 participants are allowed to take part in the event. Approximately 30% of these athletes comes from abroad. It doesn’t compare to the 50,000 runners in London and New York, but the scenic route certainly beats these other marathons.
The 42.195 km race is flat and fast and crosses 14 bridges. It starts at the Villa Pisani in Stra, a small town west of Venice on the mainland. This area around the Riviera del Brenta used to be the location where the rich Venetian merchants and noblemen built their summer residences.
INSIDER TIP: The Villa Pisani is not only the most beautiful building, but it is also the location of the National Museum. It has a stunning garden with an orangerie and tropical greenhouses. So, if you plan to watch the start of the marathon at approx. 9.40 am (and not run it), you can visit the 114 rooms with furniture and art works from the 18th and 19th century after the runners departed.
The marathon continues through small towns, the industrial estates near Marghera and the centre of Mestre. After crossing the Ponte della Libertà, the best part of the race is a tour in the historical centre of Venice. The marathoners run next to the Giudecca Canal to Punta della Dogana. They cross Canal Grande via a pontoon bridge, especially built for the race. After passing the Piazza San Marco, the finish line is at Riva dei Sette Martiri along the lagoon. The first runners are expected to arrive on the Piazza San Marco just before noon.
The winners of the men’s and women’s marathon of 2016 were respectively Julius Chepkwony Rotich (Kenia) in a time of 2.10.22 and Cherono Priscah Jepeting (Kenia) in 2.27.41. If the 42 km is too long, you can also opt for the 10 km or the family run. The event expects 13,000 participants in total.
This year, the organization has teamed up with 20 non-profit organizations for a charity program. Each runner can select one of these organizations and run for them. At the end of August, this project already collected approx. 14,000 euros. Alex Zanardi is the standard bearer of this program. This Italian hand biker and former F1 pilot won 3 medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Giusy Versace is the godmother of the project. She is the founder and President of ‘Disability no Limits’. The national non-profit organization raises funds to secure high-tech aids for economically disadvantaged people with disabilities.
The marathon is held every year on the fourth Sunday of October. If you want to start training for next year, you can already block October 22, 2018 in your agenda.
The Venice Night Trail
April 29, 2017
The participants of this urban trail run 16 km through the historical centre of Venice. They cross 51 bridges and pass all sestieri from Santa Croce on the west side all the way to Sant’Elena on the east side. If you like to run, this is probably one of the most magical runs you can imagine. The event is organized by the team of the Venice Marathon.
Reyer is the Venetian basketball club, which was established in 1872 by Costantino Reyer and Pietro Gallo. Both its men’s and women’s team compete in Serie A, the highest series in Italy. The men’s team was the Italian Champion of the 2016-2017 season and is participating in the Champions League. The team has a very international composition, with 6 Italians, 4 Americans, 1 Czech, 1 Croatian and 1 Lithuanian player. The women’s team is mainly Italian (12 players) and has only 3 international players.
The team plays in the Palasport Taliercio in Mestre. It was built in 1978 and recently restyled. It can easily be reached from the historic centre of Venice. A free shuttle from Piazzale Roma will drive you to the stadium and bring you back afterwards.
DID YOU KNOW? The Costantino Reyer Sports Club had its official basketball court in the Scuola Grande delle Misericordia in the Cannaregio sestiere. The team Reyer hosted its games at this location until the early ’80s. If you want to know more about this and watch a movie of the team playing in this extraordinary location, click here to read my post ‘The scuole grandi combine social history and art’.
Reyer also has a very strong social and cultural development program in place. Values such as solidarity, participation and integration are very important. The club regularly organizes events to raise awareness amongst young people on these topics. As a result, it was the first professional sports company in Italy to receive the ‘Certification Ethics in Sport ESI: 2010’.
One of these initiatives is the ‘Project Reyer’, which groups 23 sports clubs from the region and more than 4,500 children and teenagers. The goal is to revitalize the glorious sporting history by creating a great basketball centre with excellent teams and players. Another project is ‘Reyer Baby’, which surprises all newborns with a ‘Welcome to the World’ box. This includes a Reyer Baby T-shirt, a description of the initiative and a Reyer gadget. The child also gets a ‘Baby Supporter’ card, which allows free access to games until the age of 12. The goal is to promote the healthy values of sports from a very young age.
Venezia FC is the football team of Venice, which was founded in 1907 as Venezia Foot Ball Club. Throughout its history, the club had many names: Associazione Calcio Venezia, VeneziaMestre, Associazione Calcio Venezia 1907 and Società Sportiva Calcio Venezia. The name Venezia FC is used since 2009.
The glorious years of the club were the 1940’s when the team won the Coppa Italia (1940-41) and played for 5 consecutive years in the Serie A. The team fell to the Serie C and Interregionale in the 1970s and 1980s. The revival started in 1986 and resulted, after 30 years, in a place in Serie A in 1997-98. In 2011, the club was acquired by Yury Korablin, a Russian business man. The team plays now in Serie B, the second division of professional soccer in Italy.
Venezia FC plays in the Pier Luigi Penzo stadium at Sant’Elena, near the Giardini. It was built in 1913 and it can seat 7,426 fans. From the historical centre, you can either walk there along the Riva dei Sette Martiri or you can take the vaporetto to Sant’Elena. (Follow this link for my post ‘Sant’Elena: The perfect area for your stay in Venice’) The training sessions take place at Centro Sportivo Taliercio in Mestre.
The club has several youth teams, where a lot of attention goes into the individual technique of each player. Besides this technical education, the team attaches great importance to social values such as respect for themselves and for others, family, meritocracy and sacrifice. The final goal of the youth organization is to accompany the children to achieve their dreams, in sports or elsewhere.
Besides these large clubs and events, there are plenty of opportunities to practice sports in Venice. You can for instance run along the Riva dei Sette Martiri towards the Rimembranze park in Sant’Elena park or you can take some rowing lessons. Alternatively, you can visit the Palasport sports centre in Castello (Calle S. Biagio, Castello 2132), hidden between the houses. This was the location of the Baltic pavilion of the Architecture Biennale 2016.
Have fun and stay healthy!
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