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How the Rome Marathon Works


Competitors take off at the start of the 15th Rome Marathon 'Maratona di Roma' at the Colosseum on March 22, 2009 in Rome, Italy.
Competitors take off at the start of the 15th Rome Marathon 'Maratona di Roma' at the Colosseum on March 22, 2009 in Rome, Italy.
Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Tourists typically spend a lot of time on their feet as they take in the sights and sounds of a foreign land. Marathoners -- who, naturally, spend a lot of time on their feet -- know that beautiful sight and sounds can provide much-needed inspiration when the going gets tough. The Rome Marathon is made for the tourist and the marathoner alike. If you happen to be a mix of both people, all the better.

While the Rome Marathon was only created in 1982, it has a historic feel to it. How could you not feel like you were being transported back in time in such a location? Rome, after all, is known as the "Eternal City" and many landmarks dating back thousands of years are still standing -- and part of the race course!

But it's not just what you might see that makes the Rome Marathon a unique experience; it's also who you might see. In the year 2000, the race start was temporarily relocated to St. Peter's Square where Pope John Paul II blessed the runners before they set out on their 26.2-mile journey [source: Adventure-marathon].

One of the most memorable marathons in history was run in Rome during the 1960 Olympic Games. It was then that a barefoot Ethiopian named Abebe Bikila strode away from the pack on the way to the first of his two gold medals at the marathon distance -- Bikila also won gold in Tokyo in 1964 wearing Asics running shoes [source: ALFA Athletic Club].

Athletes ranging from elites to the elderly have taken part in the Rome Marathon. Some are interested in fast times, and others simply revel in the scenery. And still others think more about romance than the race itself. Runner's World Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso, who has completed more than 125 marathons, once dubbed Rome "The most romantic marathon." Yasso ran the race the day after he married his wife. "I'm proud to say it was the slowest marathon either of us has ever done," he said [source: Yasso].

So how do you get into this memorable event? Trot on over to the next page to find out.


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