Amedeo Bonfanti – The Italian SoulTrain
Last year when I raced Ironman Mallorca I was surprised that there were so many first timers and people who really didnt seem to have a genuine interest or passion for the sport. Perhaps its due to that impression, that I was so happy when I meet a truly passionate Italian triathlete two days before the race in Slovakia.
After talking with Amadeo and his friend Valentino for over an hour and hearing his story, I realized that I just have to share the story of this amazing athlete. I think Amedeo’s philosophy is an inspiration and gives a different perspective on what is achivable and why we race.
How about finishing 99 marathons under 3 hours. All I can say; ”some talk the talk, some go and do it”. Clearly Amedeo have done it and I hope you will enjoy the read and find inspiration from his amazing achivements.
”100 km del Passatore” 2016 (foto: Francesca Soli) in memory of his friend Simone Grassi.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I live in Brianza, a green and hilly area in northern Italy not far from Lake Como. The climbs are not lacking but I prefer to avoid them :-). In October, I will be 51 years old and have done different sports all my life.
After twenty years of playing football and other sports, in 1996 I decided to make a change. I had a predisposition for running and after a course of swimming, I bought a bike. This was the start of a desire to try the three disciplines together.
I decided to try this experience and to grow with it, but not for competitive purposes.
I still remember when I came to the headquarter of the Triathlon Lecco (my first triclub), and meeting with the president. I still remember the astonished expression of my mother when I tried to explain triathlon.
My favorite food is pizza, pasta, polenta, fish, vegetables, fruits and I have a sweet tooth and love cakes and ice cream.
How many races have you done since you started in triathlon 1996?
The first spint race I did was in Vignola in May 1996. This debut will forever remain in my memory. I still remember the traumatic swimming in a pool, I was being passed by everyone and left to my fate ……. Anyway, I was not demoralized and arrived happy at the finish line.
After a couple of hours I was already thinking about the next race. I never expected to arrive at 50 years and still be able to compete in the Ironman distance races. Now Ive finished 94 Ironman distance races and I was able, with great satisfaction, to enter the Jubilee Club at Powerman Zofingen (finished 10 times). In running I have finished 36 ultramarathons, 106 marathons (99 under 3h) at least 80 half marathons.
Amedeo in Ironman Lanzarote 2016 (19th time finishing Ironman Lanzarote)
WHAT? – How many races do you do per year?
I do an average of 5 Ironman every year and I split the season into two parts: from May to the end of September I compete in triathlons while from November to March I dedicate to running. A triathlete to me is not an ironman, but a human being with his own weaknesses and great determination that trains himself to get energy to realize his dream. When I meet athletes who ask me the final time that I would get, I say; time is made up of numbers that you will forget as opposed to the feelings that will remain forever in your mind.
My motto is: ”I run for fun and share sporting moments, because there are no athletes to beat.” My biggest obstacle is my difficulty to swim, its always hard for me in the water. The greatest joys are, at the end of a race, in which you have suffered beyond measure, but you managed to defeat your doubts regardless of your finishing time.
Each race gives me satisfaction and different emotions depending on the time in which it takes place. I often remember a friend in my races, a very strong runner, who died of lung cancer and I feel that I can honor his memory by continuing to race. Racing is a way to celebrate life and remember those who are not with us anymore or cant race any longer.
Elbaman 2015 Amedeo’s 90th Ironman distance race
How does a typical training week look for you?
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I dont love training and I use the races to train. Im aware that Im not an example to follow. However, I have experienced that I recover remarkably fast and can compete often. I think its because I like to share the sports event with other athletes and friends and that gives me energy.
I have never used heart rate monitors and power meters but I have always listened to my body. But they are recommended to those who want to improve their performance or is followed by a coach. Between an Ironman and the next, during the week, I just try to do the maintenance of the physical condition with about 8 hours of sport. I alternate the three sports to avoid boredom.
With so many races done, which are your favorite races and which are your worst races?
My favorite races are:
1- Ironman Lanzarote
3- Ironman Austria
4- Challenge Roth
All races in which I participated have given me the opportunity to learn and experience new countries. I dont like to mention races that have not been well organized as often it can be as a consequence of limited budgets from the organizers rather than negligence.
Have you done Hawaii?
I went to Hawaii through Legacy Program urged by a friend; Alberto Fazi who qualified several times for Kona. He told me it was the only race that I had missed. I was not convinced that they would accept me and when I got the news of being able to go to Kona I was undecided what to do.
I didn’t think it was right to go without having qualified in a race. In the end I accepted and it was a great experience although I much prefer going to Lanzaraote, my favorite race in the world. A few days before the race I went to ride on the Queen K and I met Chrissie Wellington. Pedaling alongside with her I asked, ”but the bike is all so boring?”. She said yes, adding that it took a lot of mental strength.
What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you in a race?
I once raced an ironman in curlers and once I did Klagenfurt with a blonde wig and my mother’s skirt 🙂
It was an honor to share the race experiance with Amedeo in Slovakia at SLOVAKMAN226 and I look forward to see him in future races accross Europe – it will not be to difficult as he is doing so many of them :-).