Project Venti: Twenty marathons in twenty days across twenty regions

Alumnus Alessandro Portante is running twenty marathons in twenty days across the twenty regions of his home country Italy, a challenge he calls Project Venti. How does one come up with the idea to undertake something so grand and seemingly impossible? We spoke to Alessandro to find out more about his motivations.

Alessandro speaks passionately about his project: “I have always had wild dreams, but I would put them off for one reason or another. It was either that I was not ready, I did not have the time or I lacked the money. With Project Venti, I finally took the leap and decided to go for it. I was feeling lost and lacked purpose in what I was doing with my life, so I decided to start this journey and document it as a way to reconnect with my home country and rediscover myself.”

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Day 1

Quitting is not an option

Alessandro is no stranger to a challenge. While studying at the Maastricht Science Programme and working a demanding job with the student video team, he also trained for and completed an Ironman. Though familiar with athletic challenges, Project Venti involves much more.

“You prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” says Alessandro. “After months of training and organising logistics, running the marathons was the ‘easy’ part. Throughout the project, I felt tired and sleep-deprived, my feet were sore, and my muscles were tight, but I remained highly motivated. Eventually, my body adapted to the increase in running mileage.”

Quitting was never an option for Alessandro. “Unexpected things happen, but there is a solution for everything. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am stubborn, and once I set my mind to something, I am going to do it. My time in Maastricht definitely helped me develop problem-solving skills and discipline, both essential for planning something like this.”

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Day 2


The original idea came from endurance athlete James Lawrence, who completed fifty Ironman races in fifty days across fifty states in the US. “I thought this was very impressive and wanted to give it a go, so I scaled it down to one marathon every day in each Italian region.”

When he started planning Project Venti, Alessandro did not want it to be solely about himself. “I wanted everyone on the team to take ownership, be part of something big, and feel proud of it. Additionally, I hoped to inspire others to take that leap of faith into whatever they want to pursue but are afraid to do.”

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Day 4

Documenting every step of the way

“Therefore, I wanted to work with people I knew and trusted to do a great job. Joris and Lorenzo, former colleagues of mine, have an excellent connection, which I thought would work well for the underlying goal of this project: making a documentary!”

Alessandro and his team are recording the entire process and are planning to create a documentary about the journey. “We want to include every moment, big and small. From longer interviews to short encounters with people in each region. When someone asks what we are doing, it makes my day. These wholesome conversations add a special touch to the experience.”

Text: Editorial Office
Photos: Joris Hilterman

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