Interview with Stefano Passarello

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HONG KONG, 5 February 2009 (marathon.HK). Phuket Marathon (Half), Malcolm Phillips Memorial 5k, RRAC Summer Run, HKDRC Half Marathon, Gold Coast 15k and now China Coast Half Marathon - These races of the 2008/09 season have all been won by Stefano Passarello. In any other he started, he finished second or third.

marathon.HK asked  the humorous rising star with the brand mark headband the "8 + 8 questions", just before his next endeavor.

Stefano Passarello at China Coast Marathon 2009, by Thomas Fan

Photo by Thomas Fan

Numbers, please..

Date & Place of Birth: 24 May 1981 in Siena, Italy

Weight: 59 to 63 kg, depending on training

Height: 168 cm

Shoe Size: EU 41

Resting Heart Rate: 52-53

PB Full Marathon: No official attempt

PB Half Marathon: 1:08:52 in Hong Kong, 2008
PB 10 k: 31:40 in Hong Kong, 2008

Coach: Roberto Veneziani

Manager: I am myself a time manager!
Sponsor: Asics

Warm up - 8 General questions:

The best thing to do after running? Well, it would definitely be a calm meal and a nap, but usually as soon as I finish training I rush to work where usually people wait for me being late!

The next best thing to running? Lazy weekends with my family in Tuscany.

Whom would you always have liked to meet over lunch? My brother, we don't have too much time together and we grew up too far away. ...then, he enjoys food more then anybody I know.

With whom would you like to swap for one day? I am fine in my 168 cm and 60 kg!

What drives you mad? Injuries.

Where would you wish yourself on a day when everything goes wrong? Back home in Siena.

Your concept of happiness? Family, Work, Run. Possibly in the same, non-polluted city!

Imagine you arrive late at a major HK competition just to realize that you have not packed your running shoes. What would you do? Well, if nobody can lend me shoes (even a bit bigger or smaller size is fine) and the race is up to 10k and not on a trail, I will run with no shoes like Abebe Bikila! [One of only two runners to win the Olympic Marathon twice. He famously finished barefoot in  Rome 1960 and went on to win in Asics shoes in Tokyo 1964 - marathon.HK] If it's an half or full marathon, I will go have breakfast with Crystal and start carbo-loading for the next race.

Endurance Test - 8 in-depth questions:

Stefano, congratulations to winning the China Coast Half Marathon 2009! You shaved your personal course record by six and a half minutes to 1:11:17, a time the previous years' winners could only dream of. Those who saw you running were impressed by the apparent ease with which you cruised to victory. How comes such an improvement? Roberto helped me to build up progressively and I got more confidence in the higher speeds. I felt good that day and as you know I love hilly courses so I can keep a steady pace uphill and go faster downhill.

Will we see you running at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon? Yes, I will do the full and it will be my debut in the marathon distance. I did once a full marathon but that was more as a training. What are your ambitions? I have been training for this marathon quite hard, hope it would turn out a good one. The prize money is 20,000 USD... The price money is for the Pro's, I am an amateur. This is the first marathon and I give you my secret tactic here: "try not to blow up!"


Stefano Passarello leading the pack shortly after the start of China Coast Marathon 2009.

Photo by ah Dog


"I love hilly courses." Stefano Passarello leading the pack shortly after the start of China Coast Marathon 2009.

Roberto Veneziani disclosed in his recent interview that he has "...the pleasure to have helped my friend Stefano Passarello in revealing his huge talent". What else has helped you? I don't consider myself as talented; I am quite disciplined and determined. I was fat, over 80 kg until the age of 17; then I started running to reduce weight. Now, with the same determination, I am running to improve times. From whom did you draw inspiration? ...well Roberto Veneziani and Keith Chan, working family people but great runners. They are great time managers - it's not easy run normal lives, busy works and still run with results. I am a bit younger and have just the work to take care of. Crystal is very nice in supporting and not complaining too much! For us the real challenge is not your tempo run or the long on Sunday. It's more - will I have time for it?

Italian long distance running has along and successful history, going back to Dorando Pietri's dramatic finish at London Olympics in 1908 and with three Olympic Gold medals (in 10 k and marathon) recent history. What comes next? Italian athletics after Baldini is still looking for the heritage. The level is going down, there are not many talented athletes. Meucci and Lalli are the ones I bet on, young and greedy.

What do you do for a living? I am an advisor, we specialize in foreign start-ups, corporate restructuring and target evaluation for merger and acquisition projects.

Except Mizuno Half Marathon and HKMP Half Marathon, you have participated and finished first or second in all of Hong Kong's Half Marathons this season. Which one do you like the most? China Coast - it was great and was into the nature and I liked it more because I won - sorry to be honest. UNICEF, well organized but not the same flavor as the old CCM.

… now you will run the full distance at Standard Chartered Marathon. Did you consider all these Half Marathon just "training exercises"? Yes, it was more an exercise, I didn't push too much and tried to relax my run but I must admit, the last 2 km I pushed to shave few seconds and stay within the 1 hour 11 minutes. How did a training week during the last months look like for you? One training a day and seldom two. Range from 100 to 150 km if preparing any long race. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday easy run -  15k or more, Thursday a bit faster, Friday and Saturday easy and Sunday a good long run. 

Your fair and calm remarks after the crash with a [disoriented] runner at a water station of China Coast earned you respect and sympathy among the runner's community. A common preconception is that Italians are hot-blooded… Who said that I am not hot-blooded?! Well, I was more scared then upset on the China Coast HM. I found that gentleman in front of me and I was quite fast (around 3.10 min/km) maybe I shout at him but he is a runner too, so he might have understood.

Stefano, thank you for your time. We wish you Good Luck this Weekend and in the Year of the Ox!

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