CAMP DARBY, Italy- A record 453 runners composed of U.S. Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Italian 46th Air Brigade, Carabinieri's, Folgore Brigade, Italian running clubs and more took part in the Annual Run to the Tower Oct. 21.
According to U.S. Army Garrison Livorno Commander, Lt. Col. Kevin Bigelman, the 12K run from the front gate of Camp Darby to the Leaning Tower of Pisa represents the enduring tradition of American and Italian communities fostering camaraderie and friendship over the last 29 years.
"This race would not have been possible if it weren't for the close coordination and assistance from the local Italian authorities who ensured the runners were able to run the roads safely," said Bigelman, who finished the race in 50:53.
For runner Rosario Filippis, Italian Folgore Brigade, he's made a tradition of running this race since 1991.
"I like running this race because after so many years of running it, I feel like I am part of the U.S. community by now; besides I am in the Italian military, so being part of the military community makes me feel even more comfortable," said Filippis, who has even won the race three times in the past and finished this year second in his category in 46:12.
Fellow Folgore member, Michele Polzella, added he has been participating in the Run to the Tower since 1998.
"I love it because every year I try to beat my own time, unfortunately this year I did worse than the past year, but I will do better next year," said Polzella who ran 43:25 to place second in his age category this year.
Camp Darby community member, Sharon Carter, said she has run this race 14 years and has run it with her husband the last four years.
"Every year my goal is to finish one minute faster than the previous year," said Carter.
Other the top finishers, such as Francesca Caroti-Ghelli who has been running this race since 2002, keep coming back for more; however, this year newcomers to the race Rosella Darata took the first female finisher trophy home by running 45:25
It was also the first time for the overall winner Ioannis Magkriotelis, to run this race.
"This is the first time I ran this competition and I really had fun; it was a little bit windy, but the route was very easy and comfortable," said Magkriotelis who finished in 38.22.
731 Munitions Squadron received a trophy for the highest percentage of service members in a unit competing and also boasts having the first American runner Airmen Aaron Lehman finishing in 44:13. The Italian Folgore Brigade received a trophy for the largest overall amount of runners for the second year running.