Salford student runs 21 marathons in 21 days across Italy

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A Salford master's student says he feels very rewarded after running 21 marathons across 21 days in 20 cities across his home country of Italy.

Alessandro Portante, A MA Wildlife Documentary Production student, took part in the gruelling challenge, titled Project Venti, last month to fulfil a dream to reconnect with his home country by seeing every corner of it whilst testing himself to his physical limits. 

The challenge started on 12 May in the Campania region as Alessandro ran through Pompeii towards Salerno and the life-changing experience ended in his birth city of Rome on 1 June. The challenge involved touring the beautiful coastal sites of Sardinia and Tuscany, the mountainous Aosta Valley and the cities of Milan and Parma. 

Alessandro ran 550 miles in total over the 21 days. He was running for four days, nine hours and 57 minutes over that time period - which equates to 105 hours of running. 

He enlisted a team of six to support him with the challenge and to capture content for a documentary about it. However, this team dwindled to just Alessandro, his partner Antonia and her dachshund Sherlock after his Day 12 run in The Sole Valley.

He said: "It really was the most unbelievable journey and it feels very rewarding. I went in expecting to get something out of it and I really did learn a lot about myself, how I act each day and how I respond to things in my life. There were some very low parts along the way but also some truly amazing highs that will live with me forever."

Alessandro had been training and planning the project since last September, fuelled by a desire to undertake a transformative journey and accomplish the seemingly insurmountable. 

To handle the hot temperatures and sometimes busy metropolitan spaces, Alessandro would run in the early hours of the morning, sometimes beginning in darkness, and then have a period of respite before the team would travel to the next location. Some routes were on roads or on trails heading into the country's stunning mountainous regions whilst others were flat along the coast or heading downwards into towns and cities. 

Friends joined Alessandro on his runs at different points of the challenge. A high point came on Day 7 when partner Antonia ran 29k and finished the marathon with him as they ran an uphill route around the the Rocca Calascio in Abruzzi. 

Alessandro was meant to finish his challenge on Day 20 in the centre of Rome but decided the next morning that he wanted to do another marathon in his birth city.

He said: "Rome was very emotional for me as I felt like I was coming home. I enjoyed it so much that I then wanted to do it again the next day and made sure I included all the landmarks on the route! 

"I thought, well I don't have an excuse not to do another one at all so I just kept going."

Alessandro has accumulated many hours of footage from the challenge that he plans to edit into a documentary for release later on this year. 

He is currently filming his final project for his degree on the Ischia Dolphin Project, a conservation project off the coast of the volcanic island Ischia, near Naples, which tracks the movements of dolphins and whales that come to the site for feeding and breeding. 

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