Florence Marathon Packet Pickup Complete!


Our aircraft landed at the Florence airport last night with the same grace and thrust of Miley Cyrus and a giant foam finger.  The weather…not so hot.  So windy and rainy in fact that the airport’s power/electricity immediately shut off as soon as I stepped foot into the terminal.

But, I’m not terribly concerned.  Today, the weather has been nice thus far (sunny in fact!), though, it’s scheduled to rain again shortly.  For me, I actually would take rain over a hot and sunny day anytime, so at the moment all is good, even if it gets a bit wet on Sunday.

After sleeping in until the sound of half a dozen horse drawn carriages trotting by on cobblestones woke me up, we headed over to packet pickup, which had just started.

Inside, a gigantic wall where you could write your name:


First up was getting my initial bib packet portion.  Below was just a small sliver of the entire packet pickup table area.


Thankfully being early lunch time things were pretty much empty.  With the race not until Sunday, the expo is open for two days for pickup and browsing.


Right behind the packet pickup was a bar with catered food.  As you can see, the prices are quite reasonable.  In fact, last night at dinner we were in a bit of sticker shock at just how cheap everything is here compared to Paris.



In order to pickup your t-shirt, you had to navigate a bit of a maze of booths.  It was sorta like shopping at Ikea…but without the shortcuts.

As we’ve found is commonplace with European race expos, the vast majority of the booths are for other races.  I’d guess close to 90% of the booths being there to promote another race, or a host of races.


I’m happy to report that numerous booths had free food along with their race brochures.


At one of the turns in the booth maze there was chip reader.  Good to see my chip works!


In addition to all the race booths, there was both Garmin and Timex there.  Or, rather, one of their local distributors.


For those curious, they did indeed have stock of both the FR220 and FR620 on hand, at the discounted prices seen below (click to expand).


Upon reaching the end of the maze you were rewarded with being able to pick up your t-shirt.  Or, actually, vest.  It’s pretty nice.


Right next to it they can go ahead and imprint your name (or anything else for that matter), on it:



At this point, you’ll do the entire maze in reverse to get back out again.  The vendors definitely got their money’s worth for booth spots.

Along the way I dipped outside because that’s where the bathrooms were.  In doing so, I found a running track.  The pickup was held on the stadium grounds with a number of tracks.  As you can see in a bit, we’ll run through the area (though, it doesn’t look like we’ll be on the track itself).



Finally, I’m almost back out to the beginning.  I found a big map of the course.  As you can see below, it’s definitely a bit of a complex course.  Sorta reminds me of what happens if you gave a 2 year old a crayon and a sheet of paper.

However, I love it.  There’s no major straightaways that go on for miles, or any huge out and backs.  I’ll be constantly busy with changing scenery.


Right next to this you could lookup your name as well and find your bib number.  Or someone else’s bib number that you were stalking.



With that, my job was done and it was time to eat again.  In thinking about it, this whole food being inexpensive and really good probably isn’t ideal for Sunday.  According to the standard 2-seconds per pound per mile rule, every pound I gain eating fresh gnocchi and gelato is a minute slower on my marathon time.  Eek.

Speaking of which, you can follow along Sunday using live tracking paired to my watch.  It’ll automatically tweet out a link to Twitter a few minutes ahead of time and then that page will update every 30 seconds.  The race starts at 9:00AM local time (CET), which is 3:00AM Eastern US time.

With that, thanks for reading, and look forward to a race report early next week (as well the 2013 DCR Gadget Buying Guide)!


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  1. Lior

    Best of luck in the Marathon!

  2. Leo

    Greet my Florence for me!

  3. Amedeo

    Have a nice race!

    Firenze is wonderful!

  4. Thomas

    Bocca lupo!

  5. Zhiquan Yeo

    Maybe I’ll see you at the start line Ray! Looking forward to a great race this Sunday

  6. Randy Cantu

    Love the “Keep Calm And Return The Chip” sign.

  7. Eric

    Best of luck – enjoy the race.

  8. Alberto

    Enjoy the race Ray! .. I won’t make it for this season! Hallo from a snowy (northern) Italy

  9. Scott buchanan

    Good luck with the run.

    Was looking to get my 620 from Clevertraining but delivery has sliped to ‘early December’ which makes my window increasingly tight. Is this a genuine surge of interest in the unit or Garmin being stingy with its original order?

    Out of interest what was the discount price you saw on the 620?

    • There’s interest. I’ve heard well-placed rumors that Garmin had sold more units in the first week than they predicted for the entire quarter.

      As for the FR620, they were

      €359 w/o HRM-Run (from €449)
      €399 w/HRM-Run (from €399)

  10. The expo sounds similar to the Flying Pig in Cincinnati in that you had to wind your way past all the vendors to pick up your race swag. In all honesty, I think it was one of the best Expos I’ve been to in the US, great vendors and all completely relevant to running. Sometimes I’m confused as to why certain vendors are at an Expo – the work of overzealous salespeople I suppose.

    At any rate, have a great race! Looking forward to your report (and don’t eat the Gelato until Sunday afternoon).

  11. Guillaume

    Good luck!

    Food will still be cheap after the race ;)

  12. Pete Thomas

    Best of luck with the marathon Ray, i’m sure you’ll smash it!

  13. Dan Chambers

    Thanks for the review, we’ve just got to Florence and will be heading to the expo tomorrow. My first race with garmin 620 really looking forward to it. See you on the start line!!!

  14. Luke

    Genoa here, good luck and enjoy your marathon!

  15. Alessandro

    Welcome in Italy Ray!
    I suggest you don’t return to Paris, without eating a “Fiorentina” with a good glass of red wine, it’s a huge steak, so maybe AFTER the marathon. It’s quite mandatory!

    Good Luck!

  16. good luck
    and enjoy tuscany!
    I use to live there for a while and now I envy you…..

    and eat a fiorentina for me too on sunday lunch/dinner

  17. Any booth where they’re giving out prosciutto and cheese is alright with me…
    Have a great race, and enjoy beautiful Firenze!

  18. Kew

    Have a good Run… hope to make this run for myself in the future..

  19. Alli

    Good luck Ray and have fun!!

  20. Oh, my — that looks spectacular!

  21. Iain

    Good luck… And enjoy the carbo loading!

  22. mauihollyday

    best o fluck

  23. Matt B

    Ah, enjoy Florence… me and the other half were there on our honeymoon a couple of years ago, and loved it! Looking forwards to the write-up :)

  24. Matt

    Good luck! Run strong!

  25. Peter Sumner

    See you on the start line Ray!

  26. Tom

    Good luck (to all)!!!

  27. Charlie

    Entertaining read. Will be at the Florence start line looking forward to the run. As ever, wish I had done a couple of extra long distance training runs prior to tomorrow!

  28. Steve E.

    Why does your information paper say “FRA,” but everywhere else, you’re referred to as “USA?”

  29. Amedeo

    Go Ray, Go!

    I’m following you by live tracking ;)

  30. Baruch

    I loved the t-shirt printing ! hope this catches on elsewhere.
    BTW, I noticed that your race packet (envelope) has your name and FRA on it, but the chip reader identifies you as from the US…

    Best of luck!

  31. Fran

    Congrats Ray, great race! 3:16:46 looks very good to me!!

    Just curious about those four drops in your graphics, waiting for your race report :)

  32. Alice

    Hope you had a superb race, enjoy Firenze!

  33. Peter Sumner

    Looks like you had a rough one today Ray, better luck next time mate! Still, it was a beautiful course, wasn’t it? Hope those lovely Italian cobbles didn’t wreck your legs too much to enjoy a nice meal out in Florence tonight!

  34. Amedeo

    I think you’re not so much happy about your race: what has it happened?

    Anyway, I hope you have appreciated the city ;)

    • OperationOne

      according to race times, something went wrong after 21km :/
      (still far better than me :D my legs went on strike at 18km, 3:54 at the end but with a lot of pain)

  35. Fenitua

    I suspect, Ray having a VO2 Max of 60ish would have him anticipating a sub 3 hour run for a flat course.

    Hopefully the following does not come across as me trying to analyze the run; I’m just speaking of my own recent post run /sighs.

    I seem to have one or two very bad training runs every month and it is a real downer for me. I have not figured out the reason it happens to me yet but discovering reason(s) is of great interest to me.
    I am leaning towards my stomach not being happy, telling my brain to quit. I read an article on an old Scientific America recently regarding the relationship between stomach and brain ( link to scientificamerican.com ) that has me being much more conscious of what food I put in to my stomach (and when I eat).

    Ray, you might consider an excursion from writing about gadgets and do a piece on analyzing the bad run or bad ride?

    Congratulations on the marathon finish. Hopefully you got to eat some bad tasty grub after without feeling too guilty.

  36. Hubert

    Hey, on the other races flyers, I see the one I ran this year : Mauritius Marathon.
    Great event : 42 kms by the sea.
    Should come :-)

  37. Lindi

    Congrats! Saw you just before 33km – the very loud South African ! Look forward to reading your race report – that start was something special !

  38. Alice

    Hi Ray,
    I’ve been checking back every day since the marathon to see if there was a race report, but perhaps you’re not planning to write one this time or are you? Thanks and have a lovely weekend, Alice

  39. Chris

    Ray, I noted in the livetrack from Florence that the four sections that appeared as walking all dropped exactly to 12:30/mile (on the plots below the livetrack map) and flatlined at that pace. Is that just a strange livetracking bug/feature? Have you noticed this type of thing during other livetracks (when walking or otherwise)? Thanks.