After. Covid hiatus, runners return, feasting on Nutella crepes after 4-mile run
After a 3-year hiatus imposed by the pandemic, the Italy Run, now a small classic for the New York running community, has returned to Central Park. Nearly 6,000 runners (with many more hopefuls excluded tickets sold out) took part in the 4-mile (6.5-kilometer) run this morning, organized by the Consulate General of Italy, with contributions from the New York Road Runners (NYRR) and Ferrero North America. And many others flocked to the ‘Festival’ set up for the post-race, under the banner of Italianness and Made in Italy.
“It was not easy, we wanted to organize it last year as well, but it was not possible. In fact, the Italian community in New York and the community of runners waited three years. Now we’re back and it’s fantastic,” says Italy’s consul general in New York, Fabrizio Di Michele, architect of the Italy Run’s return to New York’s quintessential park.
“It couldn’t get any better than this. This is not only a celebration of Italy in the heart of Manhattan,” Di Michele continued, “it is a celebration of sport and friendship and also a great day for relations between Italy and the United States, particularly because of the special relationship between Italy and New York.”
A key partner of the Italy Run is the New York Road Runners, one of the leading U.S. running organizations, and the stewards of the New York Marathon. “This has always been a favorite race of our running community. We knew that if the race was coming back, runners would flock here to celebrate the event,” says Kerin Hempel, chief executive of the Road Runners.
Todd Siwak, CEO of Ferrero North America, the event’s main sponsor, also spoke of a “fantastic event,” underscoring the Nutella parent’s commitment to outdoor activities, “with a program that sponsors 29 events across the country, all focused on the joy of outdoor and nature-based activities.”
The 2022 edition of the Italy Run also saw the return to Central Park of Giusy Versace, a Forza Italia congresswoman and Paralympic champion, who greeted runners before the start, recounting her experience. “I was here three years ago and I am happy to be back, we have to return to normal life and running is a way to do that.”
Added Versace, a Paralympian, “I learned to love running after I lost my legs,” referring to an earlier automobile accident.
The race was won by New Yorker Robert Napolitano-“I am half-Italian on my father’s side,” said.
Grace Kahura of Boulder, Colorado, won for the women. As of this year, a ranking for nonbinary people was also established, won by Pierce Lydon, of Glendale, New York.
“Next year we want to do it again,” said Di Michele, “It won’t be easy, because many other countries want to do the same, and this year we are the only ones who were able to organize a Central Park race. We are probably also the only ones able to gather all these people.” The date for the Italy Run is 2023.
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