All roads led to Rome on April 8, 2018 for the 24th Acea Maratona di Roma 2018. 11,395 runners registered for the race that worked its way around the eternal city past more than 500 historical structures and monuments. The highlight of the race was definitely running across St. Peter’s Square and pausing to listen to Pope Francis officiate the Sunday morning mass!
I first ran this race in 2015 when it rained the whole time and I didn’t get to enjoy the scenery much. This year’s race was blessed by a sunny 23 degrees Celsius weather. There were so many distractions that I was grateful for the seven hours and 30 minutes time limit.
We got up early to catch the 7:00 AM Ryanair flight to Rome Ciampino from Brussels South Charleroi Airport on Saturday, April 7, 2018. It was a 35-minute Terravision bus ride to Roma Termini Station where we took the Metro B line to Cavour. You can pay for your Terravision bus ticket online at 4€ per person one way or directly from the dispatcher. When you get to the Roma Termini Station, you can buy a 24-hour metro and bus pass for 7€ each. This is more cost effective especially if you plan to go around the city and see as many sights as you can in 24 hours. Otherwise, a single trip is 1,50€.
We stayed at The Inn at the Roman Forum near the Colosseo. The boutique hotel has a very discreet front. You won’t know it is a hotel unless you are actually booked here.
We planned to just drop off our luggage and go pick up my bib. We knew we made the right choice with the hotel when we were ushered into the receiving room to be served tiramisu and glasses of excellent wine as our welcome.
The hotel impressed us even further by letting us know that our room was ready before the 14:00 checkin time, and they upgraded us to a room with a jacuzzi! The hotel is part of the Roman Forum ruins but the interiors were extremely modern with all the luxury amenities.
Bib pick-up was at the Rome Convention Center The Cloud. We were back at the Cavour station to get on the metro and got off at the Eur Fermi nine stops away.
I lined up at the claims area only to be told that my registration was incomplete! I almost panicked at the possibility of traveling all the way here and not being able to run the race. I was transferred to the Pending Subscriptions desk where I found out that the French medical certificate I submitted online did not conform to the Italian template and my registration payment was therefore not processed. The line to this desk was long. The race organizers were probably used to people like me who assumed but did not check online that their registrations went through successfully. I assumed that my Italian Runcard membership ensured all requirements were met.
We had to race back to the hotel to get the proper Italian medical certificate and come back to the same desk to submit the document, hope it got approved, and allow me to pay the 90€ registration fee. Fortunately, the lady was very helpful and accepted my late papers. Whew! This was a lesson I will never forget. Always, always check online a few days before the race that you are officially registered for the event! You will normally get a confirmation letter by email if you are. I did not, but assumed I was confirmed.
Crisis averted! Check our relieved smiles here! I didn’t have my name printed on the bib but that did not matter now.
The race kit included the race shirt, Vitamin E capsules, sports detergent, an Arts Card providing free entrance to 10 museums and galleries, and the highly coveted New Balance backpack.
The incident took the whole afternoon and wore us out emotionally. We trudged back to the hotel and decided to order takeaway dinner at one of the small pizza places near the hotel.
It was fortunately a good night’s sleep. We woke up early to have breakfast at the terrace restaurant.
The indoor and outdoor areas were extravagantly designed and the view was amazing.
The start and finish was in front of the Colosseo, just a few meters away from the hotel. I went to my corral to wait for our turn to start at 8:52 AM. Elite runners started at 8:40 AM and the 5K runners were starting after us.
The race was epic! There were many pacers according to the runners’ targeted times from 2:50 to 7:30. The historic sights were simply awe-inspiring.
I could not help myself when I got to the 17K mark. I stopped and took a selfie with Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square. He was officiating the Sunday mass.
There were many hills too. Rome, after all, was built on seven hills. Aid stations every five kilometers provided water, Powerade, blood oranges, apple slices, and crackers. Sponge stations were 2.5 kilometers away from aid stations and helped cool us down. Various groups entertained us along the way.
Richard took pictures of various scenes around the hotel while waiting for me.
I finished in 5:51:03, a minute slower than 2015. Finishers received a bottle of Powerade, mineral water, blood oranges, and apples.
A quick rest and a shower and we were off again to be tourists. The Trevi Fountain was a 10 minute walk from our hotel.
From the fountain we got on the Barberini metro to Ottaviano to see the St. Peter’s Square again after the race.
We took the metro back to our hotel, stopping to have Japanese cuisine for dinner. We were in bed early to rest, recover and wake up at 5:45 AM to make our way back to the airport for our 9:30 AM Ryanair flight on Monday, April 9, 2018.