Race Report by Cathy Keay
Sticking with my tradition of “only doing Capital City Marathons”, I’d booked this race about 12 months in advance. The horrible winter weather, cancelled training races, and a couple of colds & coughs had meant that the training hadn’t gone quite to plan, so I’d decided this was going to be a “just get round” run and I’d hopefully try for a sub-5 hours, but the main point was to enjoy it.
Marie and myself flew out on the Thursday, and after checking-in went to the Expo, where we collected our bibs, t-shirt, kit bag and other bits and pieces. We had pre-booked tours of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St Peters, The Coliseum and Roman ruins on the Friday – it was great to see all these famous sites and to meet up with Phyllis, Jason and Joy for food and drink. On the Saturday, we planned not to do too much walking around and just visited the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, before meeting up with the other travellers, Rachel, Parky, Emma, Jane & Steve.
The weather had turned very hot, and the forecast for Sunday was now showing 23 degrees !!!
Emma & Jane’s apartment was literally on the start line, so this was a great place to meet up on race day, leave our bags there and use a “proper toilet” !!! There were 3 different waves, Rachel & myself were in the second wave, so we left the others and briskly walked to the start at via dei Fori Imperiali, our wave had actually gone, but before we knew it, the hooter had gone off again and we were running over the line. It seemed really busy, and the noise was immense as we set off. There were uniformed bands in the first few miles, and all the way round there were musicians and DJ’s pumping out the tunes.
I’d told myself not to go off too fast, as I’d not got the miles in my legs, and when I caught up with the 4:30 pacers, I forced myself not to go past them. There were water stations every 5k, which were really needed as the sun was really starting to beat down. At 8k you went over the River Tiber for the first time, at the 10k water station I saw Rachel go past me, and the 4:30 paces were disappearing in the distance.
The route was on nice wide roads, but every now and again you’d have a cobbled section which I needed to concentrate on and I spent a lot of the run looking at the floor. The route followed the Tiber embankment and into the Prati borough. In between water stations were sponge areas, where you could grab a sponge soaked in ice cold water which was fab and really refreshing.
The kilometre markers seems to click by really quickly, just before the 18k you started to run towards St Peter’s Square with the Basilica in the background, as it was about 11am by now there was a Mass taking place and the others stopped to take photos as they were convinced that the Pope was on the balcony. (I didn’t have my glasses with me so can’t comment !!). This was my favourite part of the run as the support was great and I knew the halfway point wasn’t far away.
The halfway point appeared a lot quicker than I expected, and you started to run past an area of sports facilities and back over the river. I didn’t spot or notice a lot of British runners, I had a brief chat with a couple of them who commented on the Massey’s vest and wished me luck.
By now there were a lot of runners walking, and I’d also taken to walking through the water stations, taking on board as much liquid as I could, they also introduced banana’s, oranges and biscuits at these stations. I stopped looking at my watch by now and decided that the time didn’t matter as running in this heat was bonkers, and where possible I’d run in any shade I could find.
At 32k the route started heading back towards the centre of the city with lots of important historial sites, fountains and statues, we then continued onto Largo di Torre Argentina a vast archaeological site including 4 temples. There was then a long section through the shopping district (with many tourists trying to cross the road in front of you, I must say my language was a bit “fresh” by this stage!!) then around a “circular square” and at 40k we ran past the Spanish Steps which was full of supporters and tourists. The route then went through a tunnel which provided relief from the sun.
The final part of the route went past Trajan’s Column, Foro Traiano and Foro di Augusto towards the finish line back at via dei Fori Imperiali with the Coliseum in the background. As I turned the final corner and could see the finish line ahead, I ran as fast as I could (not very !!!), I heard Joy and Parky shouting me on and it felt great to cross the line in under 5 hours.
I was then awarded a lovely medal, had my photo taken with a Roman Centurion, and collected water and fruit and headed to the exit. I caught up with Rachel who had finished 10 minutes earlier and we stretched, relaxed, laughed and had a well deserved beer !!!
To sum up, this a fab marathon, well organised, a great route, and a great way to see a lovely city. Now onto Berlin in September !!!