Geneva By Run, A New Way To Discover The City

May 24, 2019 | Interviews | 0 comments

Named by the World Travel Association (WTA) as one of the top destinations in Europe, Geneva attracts thousands of runners from all over the world to go the distance. On May 12th, Geneva held a spectacular running event – the Harmony Geneva Marathon for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The Harmony Geneva Marathon for UNICEF is one of the oldest running events in Switzerland. This year marked the 15th anniversary for this event, which was first held in the heart of the diplomatic city.

Alessandro Palmieri had the opportunity to take part in the half marathon event. He kindly shared his story and some information with SUISSEPIC about running activities and clubs in Geneva.

Photo: Alessandro Palmieri 

SUISSEPIC: Alessandro, what were your impressions of the event?

Alessandro: The event was great. This half marathon required a lot of preparation, and I finished it in 1 hour and 37 minutes. I could easily say that this was the best day of my life.

SUISSEPIC: What does running mean to you personally? Does it have a special meaning to you?

Alessandro: To me, running is a great way to discover new places. When you run, you discover the places you have gotten used to seeing with a different perspective. For example, in Geneva, I have never had a chance to run across the Pont du Mont Blanc.

One of my goals now is to motivate people with sharing good vibes and energy. Sport is a great way to communicate. During my training period, I created a special character Dandy Runner to share my training experience. I also created a page called Run for Gabrielle et la Fondation Suisse de Cardiologie to deliver a message about the importance of caring for one’s physical and mental health, as well as about the beauty of the world.

As for a special meaning, I would have to say yes. This event was also special to our family. I created a family team to celebrate Mother’s Day. Mom left us 15 years ago at the age of 49 from a heart attack. For us, the Harmony Half Marathon in Geneva was a great way to celebrate her life and transform sad memoires into happy ones. There were seven on the team: my brother, five cousins, and me. We also collected about CHF 1,000 for the Swiss Hearts Foundation.

Photo: Alessandro Palmieri 

SUISSEPIC: How long did you train for the half marathon? Did you have to anything special?

Alessandro: I worked with two of the best coaches in Geneva – Frédéric Gazeau and Thomas Bazin. They developed a personal program of 60 training sessions over 15 weeks. It was based on my heartbeats. There are also several parks to train for such events in and around Geneva. After the half marathon, I did not feel tired and felt like I could easily do another race.

During my training sessions, I completely rediscovered myself and changed my diet. I do not smoke or drink anymore. I lost weight and feel really good. Now I share my new way of life with other people.

SUISSEPIC: Is it easy to establish your own running club in Geneva?

Alessandro: Geneva is full of running clubs. I also founded one and called it the Post Tenebras Run, after the motto of Geneva (Post Tenebras Lux). On this page, I share racing events and my thoughts with 200 other runners from Geneva. Eventually, I will probably transform the site into something that could help people discover Geneva by running.

SUISSEPIC: Which running events do you consider the most popular in Geneva?

Alessandro: The most famous running event is the Harmony Geneva Marathon for UNICEF. There are plenty of countryside events such as the Rhône Evasion. There are also walking distance events, such as the 6 km La Genevoise, which is only for women. The most spectacular event is the Escalade Race, which is held at the beginning of December. Every five years, this event is combined with the Course du Duc, which starts in France. When it happens, about 45,000 participants compete in the event. Just compare these numbers to the numbers of the New York City Marathon, which attracts about 50,000 participants.

On September 28-29, 2020, Geneva will host an ambitious event around Lake Geneva – the Run Mate relay race. It starts in Vevey and will be held over the course of 2 days and 1 night. I think this is the best way to celebrate the main symbol of Geneva.

Photo: @thedandyrunner

SUISSEPIC: Are you focused on the next race?

Alessandro: Yes. I have already started to prepare for the Tour du Lac de Joux, a 24 km event that is going to be held on July 6th in the Canton of Vaud. To check my readiness for this event, I will run a small mountain race called the Santana Vertical Kilometer (SVK) in Portugal on May 31st. It will be just a 5 km race, but the climb is about 1,000 m. We will start at 700 m and finish at a height of 1,750 m.

This year, I think I will do 4 or 5 races to prepare for a marathon next year.

SUISSEPIC: Thank you for sharing your story with SUISSEPIC. I wish you great success with your future events.

Thank you Maria.