MARATHON 126: ROME (17/03/2024)

Outside runners expo
Inside runners expo

After running Almagro at the end of January, the next marathon should have been Seville, for which I had train and accommodation, although because I left the registration too late, I ended up out. Later I was registered for Badajoz, until that same Thursday night they decided to cancel it, with the inconveniences that this caused, both in logistical and training. Thus, I arrived at the Rome marathon, my Christmas gift, with my training a little readjusted and the desire to run in one of my favourite cities, a few times visited, but whose marathon was still foreign to me.

The trip was going to be a bit of a whirlwind, arriving at noon on Saturday and with the return flight at 6:45 p.m. on Sunday. Having just arrived at the airport, I decide to head directly to the runner’s expo. I take a train that leaves me a couple of kilometres walking “via Google”, which ends up becoming a few more as I must go around to cross a large road and some train tracks. Already in the expo, I find a long queue to enter the venue. There, with the backpack, I lose about 1 hour until I get to the bib table, only to find that many of the available places are empty. Possibly the process could be much faster. With my bib I go to get the t-shirt, to find that they don’t have my size either and it’s only 2pm. I have to settle for an L. After a brief visit to the usual stands, I eat something outside and walk towards the nearest subway entrance to go to my accommodation.

With the official registration for the race there were options to choose a pack with 3 or 4 star accommodation in one of the marathon’s collaborating hotels, the Omnia. For once I had decided to opt for the 4-star package, whose accommodation was a little more expensive than the one I had previously booked, but which offered late check out until 4:00 p.m. and a marathon breakfast starting at 6:00 a.m. The hotel in question, the Donna Laura Palace. When checking in the receptionist refuses to accept these conditions. Immovable and with an ironic smile he tells me that check out is at 11:00 and breakfast starts at 7:00. This means that I will have to leave my things at the hotel and pick them up after the race, since only the small backpack that they gave us at the expo can be left in the race cloakroom.

Going to the race entrance
Bottleneck of the entrance to the runners area

After these small setbacks, I take advantage of the afternoon to tour the Vatican and the area of ​​the Imperial Forums and the Colosseum. A pizza will serve as dinner before retiring to rest.

With the start of the marathon in waves starting at 8:30, I am already leaving the hotel at 6:45, with enough time to get to the start/finish area by metro. Once outside the metro we still have to make a long detour around the entire Trajano Market to reach the entrance funnel to the cloakroom truck area. It is unacceptable that in a marathon of this size the entrance to this area is through a small corridor where no more than 2 runners can walk at a time. And things do not improve inside since the indications for the trucks are scarce and in some the volunteers are overwhelmed to collect the backpacks.

With the backpack delivered and more than half an hour until the start, no one can get closer to the front or see where the starting boxes are. There are pacers of 5h40m and also 3h15m. Completely lost the reference to where I am, and stuck, I have to stay there until, I don’t know if in the last wave or which one, I pass through the start.

It is around 8:50 and the morning promises to be hot and sunny. It is difficult for me to pick up the rhythm. I have to surpass many runners, on both sides of the road. And this will continue for many kilometres, with the difficulty that it implies, to avoid a fall and get to the aid stations. In them I find another of the organization’s failures, because even though there are quite a few, they are indicated with very little notice. Although I usually skip the first few, I even must stop to serve myself the isotonic from a bottle.

I end up reaching the halfway mark in 1.58.24. With this intermediate time, the second part should go very well to reach the finish line below 4 hours.

Finish area

No longer feeling the pressure of making a good time, I try to make the most of the points of interest along the route, from St. Peter’s Square to Piazza Navona, although there are also areas of much less interest. With a one-lap route, some areas are bland and with few visitors.

Discounting the kilometres, the heat is already noticeable, and in some areas also the cobblestones, although not as many as one might think. Heading towards the Colosseum, the race is almost over.

In the end I cross the finish line in 4.04.37 to conclude my 126th marathon. A race that should be on par with the city it runs through, but that’s Rome too: chaos everywhere.

Having completed one of the marathons that I had on my checklist, the next stop will be in 6 days, in Valdebebas, part of the first Quadratlon in Spanish territory.

Thank you for coming this far, and we’ll see you at the next outing.

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