What to expect when riding the Maratona dles Dolomites
The Maratona dles Dolomites is one of the top sportive bucket list rides for cyclist, up there with the Etape and the Marmotte.
The full Maratona course takes in 138km of gruelling Dolomite passes and hitting over 4230m of elevation gain, this is not a ride for the feint hearted.
I’ve been lucky enough to ride this twice, in 2016 and 2017. Here are my top tips for the event.
Logistics & Pre-Ride Info
Where to stay
Unless you are going with an organised tour or you booked a hotel a year or so in advance this is one of the most tricky parts of attending the Maratona. A lot of hotels prefer and only take bookings for a full week in Corvara or surrounding villages. If like me you are flying in and out on the weekend (I did Friday – Monday on both trips) you might find options a little more limited.
I have heard that hotels open up rooms closer to the time if they can’t sell them for the week but I preferred to pre-book in advance to know I had a hotel sorted.
I can’t give a detailed overview of where to stay but I can recommend the hotel we stayed at. In 2017 we stayed at the beautiful hotel Mölgg Residence in San Vigilio. Approximately 35mins drive from the starting line of the Maratona, this hotel run by Pro Skiers Manuela and Manfred Mölgg has everything you would want.
With Manuela and Manfred being keen cyclists who were also taking part in the race (Manuela placed 5th in the 2017 ride!) we were able to take advantage of their high spec garage to unbox our bikes, store and tune them pre-ride.
The rooms in the hotel are all to a top specification and include walk in showers and your own sauna in each room. The outdoor pool is perfect for a dip to loosen off the legs after the long drive from Venice, and the communal areas beautifully decorated and very comfortable.
Unless you are staying in Corvara or La Villa you will definitely need a car to get around. The sheer numbers of people and terrain mean that most the villages only have a several hotels so it’s very likely you will need to travel by car to get to and from the start.
Equally it’s worth noting that you pick up the Race number at the Race Village in Badia, the race starts in La Villa (2km down the road) and finishes in Corvara 5km from La Villa.
Maratona Race Pack
To pick up your race pack and number you have to go to the Race village in Badia, this gets busy to get your race number so expect a queue and it’s worth giving yourself time to enjoy the scenery and stalls in the village – I can 100% recommend the apple strudels being sold out of the fire station under the race registration. Do not forget to get a medical certificate before you travel as without this and valid ID you will not be allowed to pick up your race number.
One of the great things about the Maratona is that they do not skimp on the swag you get in the race bag. From memory in 2017 I had:
- Castelli Race Jersey
- Castelli Gillet
- Maratona branded bidon
- Small bottle of some local fizz
- Numerous little samples of chamois cream or technical washing detergents
Not bad when most UK sportifs you only really end up with a medal (which they also give you, along with a branded cap!).
In addition to this with your race number and timing chip, you get a route profile for the race you can have on your bike and a number of vouchers to get a beer, bowl of pasta, a sausage and a apple strudel after the ride. All very generous and gratefully received after riding this tough course.
On the day logistics
Coming from San Vigilio and heading south towards La Villa on Race Day it was a little nerve racking exactly where we were going to leave the car as that was one of the items that the extensive information the race organisers give you does not cover. However, our worries were quickly alleviated as driving into the vicinity of La Villa organisers easily direct riders into designated fields to park and prep the bike.
It’s an early start for the race (6:30am!) and even earlier if you want any chance of being near the front of your pen. For that reason make sure you have some form of cover to keep you warm for the wait, I just used my rain cape to keep me warm. Others had bin bags with holes cut in, or even painter and decorator onesies! Bring some food to nibble on that’s not part of your race nutrition, as by the time you start it can easily be 2 hrs after you ate breakfast.
With 3 or 4 race helicopters flying overhead and thousands of other riders around you it’s a feeling like no other, extremely exciting with everyone buzzing to get going. Beware though, with narrow roads and thousands of riders it will likely take you 20-30 mins or so to cross the starting line after the race officially starts. I was in Pinarello and it took a good 25 minutes to get over the line after the starting gun, and even after that it is very slow going and tight with riders for the first 30k.
Food and Feed Stations
There are 7 feed stations throughout the course, plenty to keep you going. I opted to take a several gels with me and to miss several stations, only stoping to top up water as needed.
All the stations are well stocked with a mixture of sweet and savoury snacks, cakes and fruit to keep the hungry riders going.
If you are planning on going on the full route I would recommend not hanging about at any feed stations and missing the first two. You can easily carry enough food to get through the first 40k and it’s reasonably tight to get to the timed cut off point for the turning to the Gaiu after waiting to get going at the start line (assuming you are not in the first group of riders leaving).
One thing I always wish when I am there and after I leave is that I book longer to explore the area. It is just beautiful and the people really welcoming. If you can try and stay longer to explore and see some of the many sights.
Hopefully this helps you if you are riding the Maratona next year, if you think there are any bits I’ve missed or want to know let me know on twitter and I’ll try my best to answer!
Featured image credit: Maratona Website