Early life [change]
Airoldi was born in Origgio, near Saronno. He competed in sporting contests in the Varese. Later, he competed at the national and international level. In 1892, he won the Lecco-Milano and the Milano-Torino. He became famous very quickly. He was one of the best marathon runners of his time. In September 1895, he won the Milano-Barcellona marathon. He won 2000 pesetas for his victory.
The Olympics [change]
Airoldi wanted to participate in the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. But, he did not have many to get to Athens. He received some money from La Bicicleta, a popular magazine of the time. Airoldi decided to run his way to Athens. He would need to cover seventy kilometres a day to arrive on time. The magazine covered the stages of his journey. They also provided him with food and water.
Airoldi first went from Milan to Split, with no problems. In the next stage, Airoldi planned to run along the Croatian coast through Kotor and Corfu. However, he fell and hurt his hand during the journey. He had to spend two days resting himself. He was told not to cross Albania on foot. He decided to take an Austrian boat to Patras. Then, he would go to Athens on foot.
Airoldi finished his 28-day journey to Athens. However, he was not allowed to compete in the marathon. The head of the Olympic committee said that he was a professional athlete, and could not compete. Officials in Italy sent telegrams to the official, but Airoldi was still not allowed to compete. Italians felt that Airoldi was not allowed to compete because Greeks wanted to win the marathon. Airoldi did not accept the final decision. He then challenged the marathon-winner Spiridon Louis to a race. However, Louis never accepted Airoldi's offer.
His later years [change]
Back in Italy, Airoldi tried to beat Spiridon Louis's record. He did not succeed. He continued to race in Lombardy and Switzerland. After he finished racing, he moved to South America.