This past Sunday was my first ever trip to Italy to take part in the Rome Marathon. In this article, I am going to share my race report as well my thoughts on the Marathon itself. Recently I wrote a similar report on the Barcelona Marathon which was my favourite Marathon to date. Let’s jump in and see if the Rome Marathon can top it.
First off let me preface this article by saying I’m not an elite runner by any stretch. I’m pretty bang average and probably like a lot of you reading this, my training didn’t quite go to plan for Rome.
I came into this race around 5 months after my marathon in Barcelona where I hit a PB of 3:55. For that race, I had a month of no running prior to race day due to an injury at the Belfast marathon. I had essentially a perfect training block before the Belfast marathon which I believe led me to the PB in Barcelona.
However, for Rome, my training wasn’t quite so well executed. I had signed up for Rome just after Barcelona and thought I would take a little break in between where I was doing about ten miles per week. Anyway, coming up to training I was playing a lot of squash during the week without much running. I was averaging about 25 per week and my longest long run was only 18 miles. It’s safe to say I went into the race unprepared.
Whether or not I was prepared didn’t really matter. I was still keen to turn and soak up all of the atmospheres. Worst comes to worst I can just take it slow and enjoy the city (One of the most beautiful looking cities I’ve been in).
We go out onto the track with an amazing vibe at the start line. For the first mile or so things were very tightly packed and slow. Some parts even had to be walked. Once we broke through that I took off, way too fast. The early stages of the race felt great other than a few niggles in my foot. Coming up to the halfway mark at 1:52 had me on track for a record time. 1:52 is in fact my fastest ever marathon.
That’s when I started to realise I was probably going too fast. I had come into this race with little training and had just hit my fastest ever half marathon. That’s a recipe for disaster. Even though I knew I was going to fast I continued on at around an 8:40-8:50 pace trying to get a PB. It was at the 17-18 mile or so mark that I knew I really screwed up. The 3:40 pacers came from behind me and slowly moved on past me. I hadn’t realised I was ahead of them and it was a bit of a shock when they passed. I’m definitely not a 3:40 runner right now.
It was at this point I started to slow down a little bit (splits below) I battled for as long as I could but ultimately the ridiculous starting pace had set me up for disaster. The legs started to go around 20 miles or so. I ran for as long as I could and walked for small stretches however the last 2 miles were horrible in terms of pain. I essentially walked the last mile or so to the finish line to get a time of 4:06. Not the worst time in the world. I definitely think I could have got a sub 4 if I had paced myself better.
I was relieved to cross the finish line but very happy to have turned up and taken part in the race.
Below is an image of my splits from Strava. As you can see speeds really tailed off at the end.
I went into this race pretty unprepared and it really shows in this graph. You can see things really start to slow down at the 30km mark with the last 2km completely kicking my ass.
That’s enough about my terrible race performance. Let’s jump in and take a look at how the actual marathon experience was. Is it worth doing the Rome marathon?
Pre Race Info
Is The Rome Marathon Flat?
Yes, the Rome marathon has a very flat route as it takes you throughout the city. This makes it a great marathon if you want to put in a fast time on the track. While the route is flat, there are also around 8 miles of cobblestones which can be awkward to run on at times however it will not slow you down too much.
Overall the route in Rome is flat but it does have its own unique problems. First, let’s take a look at the elevation pulled from my Garmin.
As you can see there really aren’t many large inclines or declines. The course is flat throughout and makes for a good track to hit a P.B.
However, as I mentioned there are some other problems on the track. While Rome is beautiful to look at and the cobbled streets are amazing to stroll through on a warm summer’s evening, they do not make for a good running surface. Around 8 miles of the race is cobblestone which may slow you down a little and may even cause you to roll an ankle. I have seen one person completely go down and have heard of a few especially on the last few miles falling.
I had read about this before the race as well and expected the worse. Ultimately it wasn’t as bad as I thought but you should be conscious of where you are placing your feet, especially in the last couple of miles.
Now we have talked about the surface and elevation let’s go through some of the amazing sights you will see during the marathon. Rome is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. Everywhere you look are ancient historic buildings that look amazing. If you like architecture this marathon is a must-visit.
Sites On The Rome Marathon
The race starts right outside the colosseum which is a sight to behold and also finishes at the same spot. Throughout the marathon, you will visit the Vatican, the Trevi-fountain, Piazza di Spagna, St Peters Basilica and the Pantheon.
You pretty much see all the main sites in Rome during the race. There is plenty to keep your mind off the pain in your legs while you run.
Rome Marathon Atmosphere
One of my favourite things about Marathons is the electric atmosphere at the start line and the people cheering you on throughout the race. Rome was no exception. There was a huge crowd at the start line cheering everyone on with groups leaving in a staggered start. Music was pumping and everyone was in good form.
For the first mile of the race, the streets were lined with people and flute bands. For the next 10 miles or so there were some spectators but it wasn’t massively packed. However, for the last 7 or so miles, the streets were absolutely packed as you came back into the centre of the city. There were lots of people from all nationalities holding flags and cheering people from their countries along. People would shout your name from your race number which was really motivating to keep pushing. Overall the atmosphere was great.
How To Sign Up For The Rome Marathon
You can sign up for the Rome Marathon directly through their website. Registrations for the 2023 marathon go live on the 31st May 2022. The first batch of registration is 59 Euro. The prices then increase the closer you leave registration to the marathon.
You can see all of the pricing below:
• € 59,00 from registration opening to 31/05/2022;
• € 69,00 from 01/06/2022 to 31/08/2022;
• € 79,00 from 01/09/2022 to 27/10/2022;
• € 89,00 from 28/10/2022 to 04/01/2023;
• € 99,00 from 05/01/2023 to 10/03/2023.
The payment was easy with a debit card and race details were sent immediately after purchase.
Arriving In Rome
On my trip, I flew from Dublin to Rome. Obviously depending on where you live, getting to Rome will drastically vary in price. However when you arrive in the city it is fairly easy to get to the city centre. There is an express train to the city centre at the train station beside the airport. Everything is easily signposted to get there.
The train will take you into the city centre where we got a taxi to our Airbnb. There is a taxi rank outside of the train with lots of taxis waiting.
Accommodation In Rome
We opted for an AirBnb as we travelled as two couples and it was much cheaper to get the Airbnb. We paid ~£300 for 4 nights between 4 people. Ultimately, very cheap accommodation compared to other cities I have been in. The Airbnb was very spacious with two full bedrooms. It was one of the best Airbnbs I have stayed in. You can check out the apartment I stayed in below:
This Airbnb was beside the Vatican City which is about 20 minutes from the Rome marathon start line. The location was great for doing tourist activities and there is a ton of amazing restaurants nearby so you can carb load before the big race. There’s no better place to carb load than Italy.
Rome Marathon pack Collection
The pack collection in Rome took around 30-40 minutes of standing in a line and the pack collection location is about a 25-minute taxi ride from the start line. I assume they do this, as it is the most suitable venue for so many people to pick everything up but it was a little bit out of the way.
The village has everything you need for race day. There are tons of sponsors and stalls to purchase gels, socks or even a new set of running shoes if you need them.
Rome Marathon Post Race
After finishing up the race at the Rome marathon you will be greeted by someone to hand you your medal (One of the nicest I have seen) and a post-race pack. Included in the pack were an aluminium sheet and some post-race nutrition.
You will have to walk a couple of 100 metres to get out of the marathon and meet anyone who is waiting for you on the sidelines. Just outside the venue are tons of bars and restaurants for you to get some food if you needed. I treated myself to a healthy post-race meal of pizza and beer.
A day or so after the marathon the organisers announced on their Facebook page that photos of the race were live. You can check them out and purchase all of your photos for £60 if you want to. Personally, I thought that was a little expensive.
What Can Spectators Expect At The Rome Marathon?
The start line of the race is not a great place to see your runners take off. If you want to watch the start of the race you should go about 0.5 mile into the track where you will see much more. Spectators are not allowed into the start line section of the race.
There are a number of other landmarks throughout the race where you can wait to support your runner but I would definitely recommend going to the last 6 miles of the race. The crowds are electric around this section and it’s where you will really see the runners push themselves and dig deep to finish.
Again just like the start there isn’t really anywhere to stand right at the line. You are safer standing about 0.5 mile to the finish.
There is also an app that you can download on the day to track the person you are looking to follow. It will keep you updated on how they are doing throughout the race and where exactly they are.
So, there you have it. That is my wrap up of the Rome Marathon. Ultimately it was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend for anyone to take it on. It’s a great way to check out the beautiful city of Rome if you have never been before and the race pulls a massive crowd! Let me know down in the comments your thoughts on the marathon if you have taken it on yourself.
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