By Ian Parr
The Gods of the Dolomites shone down again arranging great weather for the 28th Maratona dles Dolomites, which took place on July 6, 2014.
Pleasantly mild for the 6.30am start, gloriously sunny during the morning and just about the right amount of cloud cover in the afternoon made sure we didn’t cook on the final and toughest climbs of the day. Rain did come late on, so slower riders got a little wet on the last descent but we were dry again by the time we reached the finish line and headed for the pasta party.
There is plenty written about The Maratona on these pages and a quick search will furnish you with all you need to know – all except the little change for 2014! The organisers, in a moment of divilment, decided to put a sting in the tail of this year’s event in the form of the ‘mür dl giat’, or ‘cat’s wall’.
Normally, after the final descent of the middle and long courses, there’s an easy flattish 4km run to the finish line. Not this year. A short but lung busting, lactic-inducing right-hander of 19% took us up to the church in La Villa, above the start line where the day’s adventure started several hours earlier.
The crowds, as ever, were fantastic everywhere on the course and we certainly needed the support of those that lined these steep pavements. Once these supporters had helped us up and we’d got our breath back, there was a very welcome drop down onto the steady straight to the finish in Corvara.
There are no horrible gradients to deal with on The Maratona – just long steady ascents of around 6 – 8% on which you find your rhythm on and plod up. The Giau, the giant of the long course, is the biggest challenge where the average gradient creeps to just over 9%.
So, this new addition is a bit of a shock to finish with and it was only the proximity and vocality of the onlookers that prevented some from uncleating. The new addition did, undoubtedly, add to the sense of fulfilment and enjoyment of the whole event and was a big talking point over the beer and pasta.
Special mention needs to go to: Cycling Weekly’s three fastest finishers, Tony Salter, Tim Boole and Nick Wilson, with long course times of 5h37m, 5h41m and 5h48m respectively; Clover Murray, our youngest rider at just 16 with an impressive middle course time of 5h26m; Stephen Jackson who’d taken the even longer course option of cycling to the event from Congleton in Cheshire and finally, Keith Peek of The Eureka Cyclists’ café who sacrificed five whole days of ‘beans and a spare’ at his famous feed station in order to participate – now that is commitment!
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