Rome Marathon experience; what it’s like to run in Rome ahead of Rome Marathon 2024

Rome Marathon Colosseum

The Rome Marathon has become an important and popular staple in the marathon calendar and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. The 2023 Rome Marathon was another incredible experience with 11,000 runners taking part in a fantastic event in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. One of those lucky runners was our Product Manager Sarah Boyd, here’s what she made of her Rome Marathon experience…

Rome Marathon provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience, offering a start to a race like no other. “It’s quite an early start, with the first wave going off at 8am and most runners out on the course 15 minutes later which is preferable. This was the first year they had the Frecce Tricolori fly over after painting the sky red, white & green following a rendition of Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma, I felt genuinely quite emotional, a brilliant experience.” Sarah told us. “The course takes in all of the cities highlights, beginning at the Colosseum and alongside the Imperial Forti you head towards St Peters Square – it’s hard not to be constantly twisting your head for the first part!”

Rome is quite a flat city and the course reflects that in its gradient and layout, but don’t be fooled; the marathon is still a tough challenge; “Once you get out to the river it’s quite a slog on the residential streets, but it’s lovely and flat with plenty of support from then on until the hill at mile 19” Sarah explained. “Then you begin to creep back in to the heart of the city, and with that comes the dreaded cobbles. It felt a bit like when Crash Bandicoot comes across sand! The last 5km is tricky anyway but the added challenge of running on uneven ground does make it hard. I really felt it, but then again, I’d ran out of energy at this point!”

The Rome Marathon follows a flat, fast course but the terrain underfoot can be challenging, with some cobbled stretches. [Source: Marathon Tours & Travel]

Despite this, the Rome Marathon typically takes place in great running conditions, traditionally taking place in the middle of March. “The weather couldn’t have been any better, 18 degrees and overcast, dreamy conditions! Even better though the days either side were gloriously sunny with mid-20 days, perfect for enjoying the Italian café scene!” Sarah joked.

Indeed, Rome is more than just a place to run a marathon in. The city has so much to explore, with incredible architecture, stunning food and plenty of culture! Sarah recommended just a few for us; “If you’ve visited all the highlights, landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Novana can be very busy, so head to the tours of the Colosseum and the Vatican which are both fantastic – but be warned that you will spend a lot of time on your feet! For a quieter experience head to Trastevere, a Bohemian neighbourhood with cobbled streets and beautiful trattorias, or Villa Doria Pamphili, a quieter area with a beautiful park.”

The packages that Marathon Tours & Travel offer allow you the perfect opportunity to explore the city whilst you’re there, without proving to be too taxing before your race. “Staying within a 10-minute walk of the Colosseum was brilliant, and extremely convenient for before and after the race. I didn’t do a good job of resting my legs as there were so many incredible ruins and landmarks that were within walking distance! The hotel we use is Hotel Lancelot and I loved it there, it’s a small property, quite traditional with lots of charm and authenticity, we were very well looked after by the staff. And of course, the carb loading situation was top tier!”

Rome Marathon provides a number of benefits when you enter, including free t-shirt, nutritional goodies and a finishers medal. [Source: Marathon Tours & Travel]

Not only is Rome full of so much famous culture, history and architecture, many of it can be accessed with your entry to the Rome Marathon. “Your entry to the marathon gets you free entry to museums that are part of the ‘Institutions of Roma Capitale’, as well as a Mass of the marathon runners at the Piazza del Popolo.” That’s as well as receiving plenty of free benefits just for the marathon; “You receive a free t-shirt along with nutritional goodies at registration rather than at the end of the run, though water and fruit is also available at the finish line along with a finishers medal!”

So would Sarah run the Rome Marathon again? “Rome is relatively flat, which might surprise some people as Rome is known as the ‘city of 7 hills’. The course is well planned out and while cobbles can catch you out, we had a lot of PBs in our group. I would definitely run Rome again, if you’re thinking of running I’d suggest booking three nights, as it’s a beautiful time of year to explore Italy!”

Persuaded to take part in the 2024 Rome Marathon? Take a look at our packages…