In the United States, the Italian Republic Day is celebrated for the second year in New York with an initiative that combines the love for the sport and the Belpaese: it is “Italy Run“, a five-mile race, organized in Central Park, involving adults and children, Italians and non-Italians. The event is created in concert with the New York Road Runners (Nyrr), a non-profit organization responsible for the historic and iconic annual New York City marathon, through the Italian consulate in New York, led by consul Francesco Genuardi. The event called Italy Run by Nutella Cafe has Ferrero as the main sponsor joined by Banca Intesa, Alfa Romeo, Alitalia, Kaleyra, Lavazza, New Balance, and San Patrignano. The colors of the Italian flag will dot the Central Park area to create a high-impact setting for an event that pays homage to history and wants to consolidate the relationship between Italy and the USA, projecting it into the future.
The boom in registrations for the race shows with overwhelming evidence the public interest in a concrete showcase of a series of values, such as friendship and sportsmanship, which constitute the most authentic and untouchable nucleus of civil life. With “Italy Run“, the United States and Italy rediscover a new opportunity to take the field and run together, in a moment of sharing and common growth, which deeply involves both the participants and the organizers in a journey that takes on almost a symbolic connotation.
To better understand the palpable atmosphere of such an event, we interviewed Vincenzo Pascale, an Italian who moved to the US 25 years ago, a university professor in New York, a journalist, a representative of the NGO “Migrantes” at the United Nations, and a passionate marathon runner.
What is the symbolic meaning of an event like “Italy Run”?
Italy Run is part of the so-called Soft Diplomacy. A concrete and effective way to promote the values of the Italian Republic in a city that has seen millions of Italians passing through. These events are necessary to extend the knowledge, culture, and values of a nation, Italy in this specific case, but also to promote Italian excellences on world markets.
How can a race be a tool to strengthen Italian identity and, at the same time, consolidate relations between Italy and the US?
Relations between Italy and the USA are excellent and boast solid cultural, commercial, and diplomatic bases of collaboration. Running represent a healthy way of life: which means attention to the diet, solidarity, friendship. Values that Italy can transmit to the world. If, as with Italy Run, the foot race celebrates the Italian Republic Day, it is a plus to make Americans aware of the great civil and cultural Italian progresses.
What are the emotions that can be felt among the participants in the race and how does a privileged observer like you tell them?
Pride. I contributed to the structuring of the event that will be repeated also in 2020. Italy is loved in the USA and in New York. It is loved for the Italian Life Style, the successes in the food, fashion, film, and automotive industries. Besides, let’s remember that New York is the place where Italians Run. Italians have won the New York marathon five times: Pizzolato twice, Poli, Leoni, and, among the women, Franca Fiacconi. These successes have brought great visibility to the Italy brand and to Italian running. I hope there are other similar races not only in the United States but in other corners of the world. Running is a powerful tool to make places known, consolidate friendships, and promote Italian excellences. Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing you on June 2nd at 8 am in Central Park.
Cover photo from fshoq.com