24 Mar 2014

Rome Marathon 2014!

If you have dreams of running Rome Marathon one day as you have heard that it's supposed to be really great then either stop reading now or continue to find out what the city with "one of the most beautiful courses" is really like!

This will be a long post with photos to prove that what I am writing is the truth!

I'll start at the very beginning which as they say is a great place to start :-)

First the expo:- I think I timed this just right. I went at 4pm on the Friday and just walked up to the desk, picked up my number and went to find the pasta party. The pasta party cost 5 euros and you got a plate of under cooked pasta and a bottle of water. I was really hungry so ate it all anyway.
I know that on the Saturday the queue to pick up race numbers was right out of the door and down the front of the square!

The marathon:- My old school friend Danny (hi Danny) ran London Marathon 2013 and caught the Running Bug so signed up for Rome marathon too. We decided to meet up and run the marathon together!

On marathon morning as I stepped out of the door I could see it had been raining and rain was predicted for the marathon but as I've done Edinburgh half and Copenhagen marathon last year in rain it didn't bother me that much.

I met up with Danny at the nearest metro station and we made our way to the start area. This was ok and we queued for the toilets for around 15 minutes. Again this was ok too even though it rained while queuing. I had my Barcelona Marathon poncho with me so put that on. Poor Danny got wet though. He did find a rather flattering poncho later ;-)

After the toilet we tried to make our way to our start section D but there was no start sections at all! There were no official race marshalls to show you where to go! It was basically chaos and whoever pushed the most would be the ones starting near the front no matter what time they were going for! Me and Danny just held back and waited. 

The race started and as it started everyone cheered. At exactly the same moment the sun came out which I took to be a good sign. Yes the start was disorganized and I was a little wet but what did I care....I was about to run one of the best and most scenic marathons in the world :-)
As we got closer to the start line people were throwing their ponchos and clothes all over the place creating a BIG hazard for the runners coming behind them!

Danny found his lovely pink poncho which surprisingly looked good on him ;-)  Then, while dodging rubbish, we crossed the start line! The marathon had begun...

I've been told that positive things should be said first so I'm going to start with the positives.

The biggest positive was running the whole marathon with Danny :-) So thank you so much Danny! Without you I would have walked all the way from 28k. He is a pleasure to run with and guess what? He talks as much as I do! I hadn't seen him in 21 years and yet it was like it was yesterday that we last spoke! He's a great guy :-)

The next positive I would say is the medal! Wow it is nice and I think it's my best marathon one yet! (my Edinburgh half marathon guitar shaped one is still the overall winner)

Another positive would be the last 4km of the course as this was run in the centre of Rome so we went past the Spanish Steps, the Capitoline museum, Navona Piazza, and some of the smaller older streets.

I'm sitting here trying to think of some more positives but I'm afraid I've run out and it's time to give the race report and, unfortunately, all the negatives that go with it :-(
I'd already checked out the course which didn't look too interesting until around 12k when we would start following the river towards St Peters Square. I was ok with this as I expected the rest of the course to be great! 
The start and finish line were almost next to The Forum and by the Capitoline museum. 
Me and Danny were running at a comfortable pace and just catching up on the last 20 years of life :-) At 5km we hit the first water station and that's when I realised the water stops would be bad!

First the water was in plastic cups and not bottles. Second you first had to find a clean cup, hold it out and hope someone would quickly poor water into it. Third the runners just threw the plastic cups on the floor so it was a repeat of Berlin all over again, gently running through each water station hoping not to slip on a plastic cup, and later on orange peels and banana skins :-(

One of the better drink stations at 25k
At 25k the water stations were a little more organised in that there was already water in the cups on the table so you just had to take one. We even found some smaller water bottles and Gaterade bottles at the later stations.

Next every 5k there were sponge stations. Runners took the sponges, wiped their faces and then, in style with the rest of the race, just threw the used sponges in the middle of the road not worrying about the runners coming behind them!

Then there was the toilets! The first toilet stop went without incident and there was even some toilet paper in there :-) After that things got worse! I needed to go to the toilet again around 17.5km I think it was. I saw two toilets and no queue so said to Danny that I should stop there so we didn't have to wait for other people. There was one little problem...Both portaloos were tied shut with plastic strips and there was no way to open them! I thought it was strange but figured I'd just stop at the next ones instead. At the next ones there were two toilets and one was locked off. Danny and I decided to stop anyway and join the queue.

One of the other runners told me the toilets were being locked because they were disgusting. As a runner we already know that portaloos are not nice but don't really care as we will pretty much go anywhere if it will save a little time. In all 7 of my marathons and numerous other races I had never seen toilets locked until Rome Marathon. 

There was one incident that I couldn't believe actually happened! While waiting outside the one available toilet for Danny, I saw one of the marathon people taking water bottles out of the trunk of his car. I decided to take a photo of this for my blog to show that the water stations were simply not stocked up well enough. What happened next surprised me. The man with the water bottles stopped going to the water station and said 'you take photo of me'. Then he stood and posed in front of me!! I just said 'don't you think you should take those bottles to the runners at the water station'? He looked at me like I was crazy then wandered slowly away with a self importance swagger! Look at the photo below and the two runners either side of the man and you can see on their faces how unimpressed they are with him!

Now to what was supposed to be the most important part of this marathon for me and the reason I had chosen to run it - The Beautiful Scenic Route!!

To put it quite simply, what scenic route? We didn't run around The Colosseum as the previous Rome marathons had! The finish wasn't with The Colosseum in the background which I really wanted it to be :-( We didn't run past the Trevi Fountain either! Basically between the start and 38km we ran past a pyramid with scaffolding on it, a smelly river, lots of apartment buildings, a couple of churches and St Peters Square.

Speaking of St Peters Square, I was really looking forward to running through it as I expected a lot of crowd support and a band or two there. I didn't see and certainly didn't hear a band and as for the crowd support, me and Danny tried to get them cheering and it took us three attempts before a group cheered back! The first two groups of people just stared at us like we were idiots! Maybe we were idiots to expect some support along the route :-(

From around 28km me and Danny walked/ran the rest of the marathon which suited us just fine. I helped him when he needed it and he helped me when I did so we were a great team :-)

The finish line was also very interesting, there was no crowd support whatsoever! We weren't even sure it was the finish line until we were 10 meters away!

We ran across the finish line together holding hands and then I did a funny kind of celebration as I could now finally join the Marathon Maniacs club! (more on that in another post). As it turned out my celebration was actually some strange kind of rain dance because as soon as I'd done it and we looked for the medals the rain came pouring down! And I mean pouring down!! So we grabbed our goodie bag which contained an apple, a bottle of water, a bottle of Gatorade, a strange jelly thing, and a cereal bar and headed back to our different hotels/apartments.

Before I sum all this up I just want to say a little about my apartment. It was next to a bar and I couldn't sleep on the Saturday night because of the noise. I made myself up a bed using duvets and towels  (I could still hear the music through the floor) and slept in the quietest room - The Bathroom!!

Comparing Rome Marathon overall to Barcelona Marathon:- Barcelona would get an 8 maybe even a 9 out of 10 and Rome would get a 4 maybe a 5 out of 10. More coming on this soon as I'm going to write a post soon comparing all my marathons on different categories.

Would I run Rome Marathon again? No way!! I'll stick to the Spanish Marathons thanks :-)


  1. The post pictures are good but the race sounds horrible. I can't believe it was that bad. I might not sign up for the Maratona Di Roma after all.

    1. You know I only write my race reports as I see them. Sorry! I spoke to some other runners at the airport yesterday and out of 8 runners only 1 said that they had enjoyed the race!

  2. Felicidades x completar otra Maraton!... Genial la crónica y las fotos...lleno de detalles y curiosidades como a mi me gusta!

    Un beso y a por la próxima!

    1. Thanks Pancho. This was most certainly an interesting race...