What it is like to run the Rome Marathon (from the perspective of a slow runner).

First, rent an apartment on Via Cavour.  You can do so through these people, who have excellent service, great rates, and clean rooms.  You should do this because you need to have people come with you.  This is important because Rome is a city to be shared.  Also, the finish is right there so you don’t have to walk far.

Second, enjoy the marathon village.  You can find a whole set of messed up races to run like the Sahara 100K.  Don’t worry, it’s in March, so your chances of dying for heat exhaustion are, like, 75% instead of 95%.

Third, know now that the marathon covers lots of cobbled streets.  That’s actually something Rome has as a claim to fame – lots of cobbled streets.  When the mascot for the marathon is a cobblestone this should say something to you.  That something is, “I’m not going to run as fast as I want to.”  This also means that you should take the time to look around.  You pass, no joke: Colosseum, Forum, Circus Maximus, Isola Tiberina, Pyramid, Vatican, Castle Sant Angelo, Olympic Village, Piazza Navona, Victor Emmanuel, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Del Popolo, Spanish Steps.  That’s the ones I remember.

Fourth, (please also see first paragraph), have your friends near the end.  As I’m a slow runner by the time I got to where I needed to get to there was a bit of breakdown in the order.  This is partially because they let you run down some of the most prestigious streets of the city – therefore people eventually get irritated that the areas are blocked off and start walking in them.  Good thing for me, I had Tom and Matthew and Ania who jogged and walked along side me for most of the last 6 miles.  You can see them in action here.  Look it up by F3243.

Fifth, I didn’t hit any kind of wall as I had Tom and Matthew and Ania those last six miles.  Because I had people to run to and people to run with I didn’t even have the word “wall” enter my vocabulary.

Sixth, this is because I got to power tourist.  I was so busy telling them about all the beautiful things in the city I didn’t think my legs were hurting that much.  I ran towards the finish.  Ran.  Like, hard and stuff.

Seventh, as I ran I heard lots of cheering in lots of languages.  The one I’m still working on is “Die! Die! Die!”  I know the word for ”you go” is “andate.”  I’m hoping it’s some chopped up slang and not their sincere wish to see me drop dead on the course.

Eighth, the medal is beautiful.  The race is beautiful but the medal is totally unique.  It is done by an artist and cast in the rough so it’s like getting a rare ancient medallion.  Plus, they do a new medal every year!

Ninth, people in Europe are way into wandering around with their rucksack and their shirts from running.  Wearing medals the day after were hit and miss.  You get a MASSIVE rucksack for running, and the shirt is incredibly colorful and symbolic.  There were a lot of smiles and thumbs up to people passing along well after the race and proudly wearing one or more of these things!

Tenth, and I might one day eat these words, I am pretty sure I’ll run another marathon.  Rome was incredible, unique, and genuine.  This isn’t a world-renowned course but it is a world-renowned city.  I’m nearly positive in the next few years the people participating will only go up and up and up.

Finally, for those holding their breath:  I finished in 6:11:34 and (believe it or not) I went from 1,917th place to 1,785th place.  How, I’m still not sure.  Plus, I got a champagne shower when we got back to the apartment.  Tom and Matthew and Ania sort of scared me as they lead me to the tub, but it was really cool feeling like a big time winner.  I also ate gelati for my victory dinner.  It was in a cone as big as my head.

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