Maratona di Roma Practicalities

A few people have asked me about the process of running Rome, since its less well known than choices like Paris or Amsterdam. Here is my practical advice about the Rome marathon.

• It is a pain in the arse to apply to. You have to register to the online portal either with an affiliated membership number or something called a Runcard which costs a few quid and guarantees you a load random emails in Italian for the rest of the year. If you have one, just use your EA number, it’s easier! I didn’t have one when I first applied and it was a bit of a faff. You also need to get a medical note saying you are fit to participate, a la Paris. And expect to wait a while for them to tell you you’re in. The Italians are not to be rushed.
• I would not recommend flying with Alitalia. Nightmare.
• The Expo is a good size, easy to navigate once you’re in, and you get a great race pack consisting of a very fetching, well sized race T shirt and a good quality backpack. It is in a horrible industrial suburb of Rome called EUR, which fortunately is really easy to get to (and away from!) on Linea B from the main centre. Also if you like Roman History there is a museum there worth a look for its reproductions of hard to see elsewhere statues and an amazing, massive scale model map of the ancient city – Museo della Civiita Romana.
• There is a 4k fun run which includes a jaunt around the Circus Maximus, starting just after the marathon sets off. Not a bad plan for a running partner and/or kids while they wait for you to get back!
• It’s a decent sized pack – 13,000 people this year. So if you haven’t done a big marathon before it’s a nice size to start off with, not as scary as London!
• There are not many loos at the start, but there are loos at every water station (every 5k-ish) and every sponge station (every 7k-ish). Water stations are well stocked with water, energy drinks, gels, fruit etc. Sponge stations were a bit of a weird concept for me but easy enough to navigate.
• People seem very panicky about the ‘cobbles’. Remember these are not British cobbles. My coach (who is also a landscape gardener) tells me they are more properly referred to as ‘sets’ and are in fact completely flat on the top. Yes, if its wet you need to watch your footing, but honestly most of Rome’s pavements are made of tufa or marble so slippery floors are par for the course if it rains. In reality only 7k total of the route is cobbled, the rest is tarmac. Just be careful at the water and sponging stations!
• It was warm. Should have been 14 degrees, was more like 20. Bear that in mind after winter training.
Baggage on the day is excellently well organised. I think it took me about 30 seconds to get my bag back. All done in number order from trucks.
• There is a decent amount of music on the route, but the area between 16 and 20 miles is quiet in terms of support. You get nice views of the Tiber to make up for it though.
• The medal is different every year and this year’s was a classy affair in Roman soldier colours. Very good bling.
• Speaking of soldiers, you get welcomed home over the line by an honour guard of Centurians from the Gruppo Storia Romanum re-enactment group!
• You run past the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, and the Piazza Navona. You start and finish between the forums in the shadow of the Colosseum. You’re in Rome for goodness sake, what more do you want?!

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