The U Giru di Natale came back for a festive Christmas 2021. That’s such a promising sign that we are on track for a normal life.
1300 Runners made it for the main 10 kilometres race and that was a pleasant surprise for the organizers – the Sports Association of the Department of Public Safety [Association Sportive de la Sûreté Publique (ASSP)] because many athletic races outside of Monaco have suffered with significant dropouts in this Covid era. There’s something special about Monaco that is a magnate for athletes.
U Giru di Natali is full of fun and camerarderie of course but there are some pretty serious athletes among the runners and the course has a couple of sections that puts the best to the test. The first is the ascent up Avenue d’Ostende. But what really identifies the fittest is the tortuous ramp up from the Condamine to the Palace.
After that, the rest of the 10 kilometre course feels like a breeze, as if you were in the cockpit of a Formula 1 Grand Prix Ferrari. The starting line is after all where usually the emblematic Formula 1 race begins.
Which is such a thrill for about a hundred kids. And they get to show their pace first. For them the circuits are shorter suit their ages. So at 9am sharp the youngsters charged off in the categories Under 10 and Under 12 and the atmosphere intensifies at 9:30 a.m. with the Under 14s and Under 16s.
It is a Christmas inspired event giving the well wishers and some runners a chance to truly distinguish themselves in their originality: Santa Clauses, Elves, Rudolphs, Snow Maidens, unicorns – the course has seen it all, even including Santa’s bells on Christmassy belts.
Around 10:30 a.m. at the start of the main 10km event in the heart of Monaco, parts of the course are already warmed up by the kids fast young feet.
If you think they are filming publicity for Chariots of Fire it is because there is a special feature in the race. Among the crowd, it is almost impossible to miss the six joëlettes, these all-terrain devices pulled by able-bodied runners in which children and adults with disabilities are seated as sort of pilots. It’s a really beautiful expression of comradeship between the “pilots” and their strong runners who must pull the joëlettes. You can imagine the strength and balance it takes to run at the same pace – a challenge in the art of communication.
More than a Health Certificate is required to be able to start the race. Participants had to provide a PCR or antigen test result less than 24 hours old, whether or not they are vaccinated. A medical certificate was also required.
Firefighters and Carabiniers
The brave were there in force including Monaco firefighters who were organised to take a child who is a patient at L’Archet hospital in Nice along with them in an all-terrain wheelchair, which enables people with reduced mobility to be towed, and which was donated by the Monaco Liver Disorder association . And, of course The Monaco ‘carabinieri’ also are popular competitors in the race.
The Podium Winners
It was Johan Vaz Caldeira of Nice Côte d´Azur Athlétisme who took first place, completing the 10 km in a blistering pace of 31 minutes and 30 seconds. Reported at seventeen and twenty-eight seconds behind were Gilles Rubio and Pierre Potteau from the Menton Marathon Athletics.
How to be that fast including running up the Major ramp to the Palace! Those lean fighting machines can now tuck in without guilt to their Christmas feast. They have earned it. To all the runners, participants and organizers. Congratulations!