The torrential rains and high tides that swept through Italy have killed 10 people and flooded the canal city of Venice, where the water level rose five feet, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency, submerging elevated sidewalks the city uses in inundated areas.
Three quarters of the city famously traversed by gondolas is underwater, and residents are wearing high plastic boots to walk around until the flooding subsides.
But that did not stop runners from trudging through the streets Sunday in the Venice Marathon. As if running 26.2 miles was not enough, runners splashed through at times knee-high water still bobbing with the tide from the Adriatic Sea.
Mekuant Ayenew Gebre of Ethiopia won the men’s race with a time of 2 hours 13 23 seconds. Angela Jemesunde Tanui of Kenya won the women’s race in 2:31:30.
Runner Andrew Chessell joked to the London Evening Standard that he “should have hired a gondola”.
It’s the second year in a row for the Venice Marathon where things haven’t gone exactly as planned. Last year, guide motorcycles departed the route at mile No. 16, something they’re meant to do to avoid congestion along the later miles of the course, which are not vehicle friendly.
“Venice is not a city for cars or motorcycles,” race president and co-founder Enrico Jacomini told NPR.
But the runners, including the two men’s favorites, kept following the guides. They ended up on a busy city street and were delayed for two minutes.
Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel, a local man running only his second marathon, won that race to become the first Italian champion in 22 years.
His time of 2:12:16 would barely have edged out Gebre, the 2018 men’s winner, who finished with some wet socks.
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