The White Maratona: Riding the Maratona dles Dolomites 2013

The 27th Maratona dles Dolomites was just a little bit different.

For the first time in 30 years or so there was heavy snow at the end of June in northern Italy and there was a good deal of panic about the event not going ahead. The Giro d’Italia had already been re-routed away from the Maratona course a month earlier.

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However, by the Thursday we had news from the incredibly accurate local weather forecast that the big day was actually going to enjoy the best weather for a while and an enormous sigh of relief was heard around Alta Badia. Just the small matter of tackling the course was now back on the agenda.

There was the usual festival of fun in the days leading up to the big day and the Cycling Weekly group met on the Saturday for the photo and to have a short social spin with a coffee stop before the big lull as folk settle down and get ready for a very early night in preparation for the ridiculously early start on Sunday.

It was not quite as cold as many had expected but the first couple of descents were hand numbingly chilly. As the clock ticked, the thermometers rose and we had an incredibly beautiful day with perfect riding temperatures. I don’t ski and I’ve never seen The Dolomites in winter but I got some idea of what it must be like. I’ve certainly never seen them looking quite so beautiful.

Two time winner Jamie Burrow (pictured, left) was competing in his last ever race (never say ‘never’, Jamie!) and trying to retain his 2012 title but had to settle for fourth place, six minutes behind the appropriately named Dutchman Michel Snel who won in 4h43m. Jamie is now going to hang up his cleats to concentrate on his Job with Planet X.

The winner of the women’s race, and fresh from her second successive Nove Colli win, was Claudia Gentile in 5h22m. Best British woman was CW rider Natalie Creswick from Surbiton who came 7th overall and 4th in category with a time of 6h04m.

Way behind the guys trying to win, Team CW had a fabulous weekend and proved that this event is absolutely about taking part and not the competition. Yes, we compete with ourselves to improve on previous years, but The Maratona is all about the experience.

Chris Roseblade of Cheshire sums it up:

“I finished 298/299 in my age category but my target was to finish without stopping on any of the passes, and I achieved this. It has been a truly memorable experience and one that I will recommend to any interested parties. Next year I will be fitter and faster!”

What Chris doesn’t know is that we had the honour, and in my book it is an honour, of very narrowly having the last finisher of the whole event in a shade over 10 hours – Jillian Evans from Kincardineshire.

Jill is the very proud owner of The Maratona’s maglia nera. “I’m gutted not to have finished stronger but this is the most incredible event imaginable for a lover of cycling. I’ll be back!”.

In the words of Michil Costa, the race president, “‘For many of you, the Maratona was a hard race – a day of unimaginable effort. A challenge with yourself, with your wanting to say ‘stop’. It was hard for the first and even harder for the last.”

Many many thanks to the organisers for having us once again. Thanks too to those who looked after so many CW riders in the beautiful small town of Piculin – Ostaria Posta, Albergo Gader and Chalet Vanzi.

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The Cycling Weekly group. Click to enlarge photo

Sheffield’s Common Lane Occasionals – winners of the prosecco for best kit!