ISRU an amazing first stage. A hard race, many champions Today was the first stage of ISRU and it was definitely an exciting day. The weather was rather hot from early morning, and after a briefing from Paolo Barghini, the runners reached to the starting point – right outside the Caravanserai. Before though, there was a little accident for Frode Lein who required the intervention of the medical doctor for a back problem.

After the start, the athletes walked down in an original Qanat (an ancient well), cross a road and run through the Nepkas, the typical trees grabbed on to sandy small hills. The terrain was pretty difficult, but after the first CP (about 7km) the road was definitely better.

After the first CP the ranking was: first the iranian Pejman, then the ultrachampion Mohamad Ahansal, followed by Alberto Tagliabue and Pier Roberto Zanda. There was a stop for Mahdi Pejman after he collapsed at the 2cp. The doctor wanted to make him retire but he wanted to go on. He finisched the stage (he got third), but he probably finished the race altogether since he had another suden illness and have to be taken care by the doctor.

After the third CP Ahansal was first and the italian chef Alberto Tagliabue was second, and this is also the order of arrival at the end of the stage. Then we got Rafael Fuchsgruber at the finish point for the Lite version, despite his hurting knee. It was then the turn of Fabio Ferrario with his bike, who claimed that the last kilometers were really really hard, going up the hill right before the final camp. Nicola Ciani got fifth, and he, quite as all the runners, claimed that the heat was really harsh.

Then passed the finish stage line Giuseppe De Rosa for the Lite version and then it was the turn of the first woman of the race: the great Laura Ricci, who said “It was hard, but i was concentrated”. Go on Laura! Roberto Zanda had some heat problems but he made it to the end, followed by the lebanese Imad Ladkani.

Gian Carlo Enna and the scottish female runner Jenny Davis, who also felt sick, probably due to the severe heat. Frode Lein got right after her: despite his back problems he finished the stage, but the heat was “Too much for a Norwegian” as he put it. The iranian Vahid Peymani was next, followed by Christopher Harreither, the austrian runner, and then the only woman who rins the Lite version cut the finish line: Giovanna Caria was at her first race and she definitely made it!

Then it was the turn of the lebanese Moustapha Ahmad, who after 22km of fast pace running had to slow down and walk “Or i would finish in hell” as he said. The great blind runner Tullio Frau and his companion Raffaele Brattoli had to stop for a while off track on the shadow and they were rescued some time after.

The iranian Fahrad Shirzad was walking to the end of the stage, and last but not least, Mahsa Torabi, the iranian ambassador for Free to Run, the non profit organization whose founder Stephanie Case (also a runner of ISRU) is taking all over the world, supporting women who want to run in their own countries. She was the female runner who ran, just a few weeks ago, the marathon of Shiraz (women were not allowed) all alone just a couple of hours before the official registered athletes to encourage the participation of female runners in every race Iran. Mahsa was a bit unlucky for she got a healthy problem, but she managed to arrive to the finish line together with Stephanie expert runner, who helped her during some difficult moments of the race, and Alireza Saadat, iranian.

The arrival of the last three runners was pretty emotional, the effort was great but they were definitely heroes, like all the runners who ran today in these difficult conditions. Keep following the news also tomorrow: the second stage is waiting for our athletes, who now are sleeping at campbase 01. Good night!


Photo: P.Benini