Event Review

REVIEW: Maratona dles Dolomites 2015

by Andy Dawson

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REVIEW: Maratona dles Dolomites 2015 

Date: Sunday 5th July 
Distance:  Gran Fondo 138km, Medio 100km, piccolo 55km 
Entry fee:  99 euros 
Participants: 9,000+ 
Start: La Villa, near Corvara in the Italian Dolomites 
Feedstops: loads, but limted range of food 
Timing: yes, chip on handlebar number, worldwide text updates of your progress around the course 
Signs: closed road, doesn't need signs, police on the junctions 
Roads: very smooth 
Photos: lots of photographers plus the opportunity to have your own DVD of yourself going past various points on the course 
Goodies: several Casteli cycling tops, bottle of Prosecco, loads more bits 

The Maratona is one of the big three summer continetal sportives (the Etape and Marmotte being the other two) and is on many peoples' list of sportives to do.  

Nestled right in the heart of the spiky Dolomites, it's a hard one with 9,000 riders taking on 4,000m+ of climbing on closed roads. The scenery is absolutely spectacular but most participants won't see it - they'll be too focussed on the task of getting around. It's 'only' 138km long, but with that amount of climbing there's not a flat bit of tarmac the whole way. 

Entry to the Maratona is by lottery. 30,000 apply, a third get lucky and you hear if you are chosen in November, giving you 7 months to prepare. There are 55km and 100km options as well as the big one. 

MD1

I was aiming to go all the way and that would mean climbing some of the classic Giro climbs - the Pordoi and the Giau especially - which have made famous riders such as Laurent Fignon and even "il campionissimo" Fausto Coppi suffer.  

Arriving midday Saturday at the event HQ I was surprised to park easily and very pleased with the well organised, airport check-in style queuing system they were using to help us pick up numbers, timing chips and goody bag.  

I was through strightaway and joined the much longer queue for pasta and beer.  A saxaphone quintent strolled amongst the crowds playing a storm.  Like all Gran Fondos the goody bag is a mini Christmas stocking type event - a jersey, a bottle of Prosecco, a special washing liquid for "technical" garments.. The sun beat down at a steady 35c. 

The Maratona starts at 6.30am Sunday, so it was up early and abandoning the car as near the start area as possible before joining one of the 4 set groups. 

MD2

The elite riders start in "Enel" (sponsored by an energy company), 2 more groups have Italian cycle sponsors and then there's my group - Warsteiner - which is a beer. Being the last group, we get away at 7am after maybe 2 kilometers of scootering (one foot clipped in, one on the ground) en-mass down narrow roads towards the start line. 

My one and only concern was the cut-off time. Like all Gran Fondos the Maratona has a cut-off: you have to reach a certain point by a certain time or they won't let you do the long route. That point was 76km and the cut-off time was 11.40am - so I had 4hours 40minutes to do 76km. 

Despite the crowded beer group I was in I started threading my way forward; the start is uphill immediately and many were taking it steady.  Soon enough were were through Corvara which involves a steep climb through the village before the start of the first recognised hill - Campolongo.  

There were loads of us on this winding exit above the village so it became a slow-bike handling challenge, keeping yourself wobbling along whilst checking out where the person in front was and how fast or slow they were going.  

MD3

The Maratona supplies race numbers to be pinned on the back of your jersey and they feature name and nationality of the rider. This is a nice touch and meant that all the way around people would pull up alongside me with "How's it going, Andy?" A very simple way to promote friendliness, especially at an international event where it's not always clear if someone will understand you. 

Campolongo eventually straightened out and I could get back to passing as many as possible, always with an eye on the time: I was already slightly down on my schedule. A screaming descent off this climb showed me a range of cornering and descending skills - some riders didn't have even the simplest cornering technique - and at 80kph+ you don't want to be behind them.  

At the bottom we all immediately turned and started the Pordoi, many riders crunching their gears. This climb was more "fun", a steady 8% I guess and just enough room to make your way past people.  The extreme inside of the haripins was always free (due to being noticeably steeper) and it was possible to overtake 20+ by using this short cut.  

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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 5 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 10 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 10 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 10 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 9 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 9 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 9 out of 10
Overall Rating 90.0%




2 Comments

14th July 2015 6:34am wrote:

Poor feed stations? Not how I remember it last year. However if you are one of the slower riders then perhaps the majority has been taken. This is the best event and experience on a bike. Speed up Andy I'd say :-)

andy59
27th July 2015 8:49pm Andy Dawson wrote:

Yes, will try to do so next year - if I can face it. Mostly on Gran Fondos I've had great food, so don't know what happened this time. Most people seemed to be carrying loads of gels and bars.