Maratona dles Dolomite - Corvara, 4 July 2009
As we approach our hotel you can see that everything is geared towards the next day’s Maratona dles Dolomiti. From 10 kilometres out we have been driving along the course, encountering more and more riders as we climb over the Falzarego and on through La Villa.
Soon our group will join them for one last short ride before tomorrow’s 6:30am start in La Villa.
With our group deciding to not take the Friday off work, we collected them off the 11pm flight into Venice and took them to a nearby hotel to get a good nights sleep. An early start on the Saturday morning for the 2 hour drive to our hotel in Badia.
At 1875m the Passo Campolongo is the baby of the passes on tomorrow’s Maratona route and serves as a less brutal introduction to the majesty and agony that awaits the 9000 entrants next morning.
Next morning the dining room is buzzing from 5am with fellow riders fuelling up for the day’s hostilities. Questions still flow from the first timers – how long, how steep, how hard?
6am and the start area is already heaving with riders, the last stragglers hurrying down the road to their start pens. The Carabieneri stops a few late arrivals as a multitude of clicking pedal cleats signals the off. Finally as the remnants of the 9000 pass, the latecomers are given the OK to join their Maratona dles Dolomiti.
Noon in Corvara and the first of our party crosses the finish line. The faces of almost all the riders bear the same euphoric exhaustion expression, although some just look bewildered by the fact they have survived!
One by one our guys come in. We counted them out this morning, and we count them in as the afternoon goes on. Our last rider is still out on the course, and the heavens open. A biblical downpour turns the sun drenched finish area into a flood zone in a matter of moments. Then just as quickly as the clouds appeared, they are gone and the sun is back.
Finally, our lost Maratoner appears. Sodden, but unbeaten, he crosses the line. "That’s it, I’ve finally done it!" The smile on his face says it all.