This year will be my second attempt at Lakeland 100. Last year I got to 75 miles at which point my brain informed me my body was unable to complete the task which it turned out the next day was a big fat lie! Rome marathon was on my calendar as part of my training for this event. It was never going to be an attempt at a PB due to the weekend before having taken part in a 33-mile recce of part of the Lakeland course and the weekend prior to that taking part in the local Gin Pit marathon on the Saturday and the Wigan half on the Sunday. It all started off very positively with us actually arriving in Rome itself. Last year due to airport strikes my Rome marathon ended up cancelled as we were unable to fly and Manchester marathon became my replacement. So finally getting there surely has to be a good omen? The Rome marathon starts and finishes near the Colosseum. What an amazing starting point for any race. As with all big city marathons I have taken part in I seemed to start off at the very back. Something to do with long toilet queues I think. I thought I hadn’t done too badly though this time and got myself into my little start area, however after about 1 km I came across the 7hr pacer which informed me how far behind I had started off. It had started off drizzling whilst we were waiting to start but as we ran the rain got heavier and heavier. We passed by the Vittoriano building and the Circus Massimo. It was as we reached the white metal bridge known as the Ponte Settimia Spizzichino dedicated to a lady of the same name one of the only survivors of the Roman holocaust that I became a little unnerved as the thunder and lightning began at this point. As with other big city marathons there are drink stations every 3 miles or so. Even I have no need to take a drink bottle with me en route at these events. One thing did take me by surprise though. We came to the first sponge stop usually required during hot weather and I had to laugh as the street was strewn with used sponges. Why on earth did people need to cool themselves off during a downpour I’ll never know. Still it amused me for a mile or more further. Another mile or so and the rain finished, at least for another hour or so anyway. Rome marathon really is one where you get to sample many of the tourist attractions of the city. It was around the halfway point I think the spectators became more plentiful and I heard for the first time a spectator shouting Die! Die! Die! I must admit I was concerned. I had survived the lightning now I was listening to this. I would hear this chant many times throughout the rest of the run thankfully accompanied by claps and cheers so I did begin to relax. I found out later that Dai! Dai! Dai! Means come on come on come on. Another thing that Rome does well is the amount of musical support along the route. I’d say there were more than the rocknroll series well the Liverpool one anyway. Soon after my recovery from the chants we hit the run up to the Vatican. What I can only describe as a wave of emotion hit me and I became quite choked up. We hadn’t yet visited this area yet so this was the first time I had set eyes on it. I am unsure if this was due to the Vaticans presence, itself although I am not particularly religious or catholic, or whether it was due to the adrenaline coursing through my veins despite just plodding along. However, a similar thing happened when I passed through Warrington Wolves rugby ground during the English half the year before and I live in Wigan. All in all I have a few favourite marathons and Rome has definitely been added to that list. You will never I am sure be able to get to see many of the sights such as the beauty of the Piazza Navona as clearly without the throngs of tourists surrounding it. I would consider it a must do for every marathoners bucket list.
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