With 253 days left until the 2015 Maratona dles Dolomites gets underway, there’s still plenty of time to register for one of the world’s most challenging Gran Fondos.
Maratona dles Dolomites and its history
12th July 1987
A unique route of 175 Km, with no fewer than seven Dolomite passes to cross; 166 fearless spirits of the bicycle that with great courage and fair play struggle to reach the coveted finishing-line: this was how the fascinating adventure of the Maratona dles Dolomites began, attracting year after year an increasing number of fans, to become one of the most important amateur cyclist events in the whole of Europe. Conceived as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Alta Badia-Raiffeisen Cycling Club, its organisers certainly never dreamt that they had created an event which in such a short period of time would have become one of the most important annual events in the Alta Badia valley, attracting thousands of fans, many of whom enthusiastically take part every year.
The great success of the Maratona dles Dolomites is certainly based on the splendid setting of the Dolomites, the striking routes that follow legendary runs where great champions have written a rich and glorious page in the history of cycling.
The great organisational effort that involves a whole community with the specific aim of presenting a high level and smoothly organised competition capable of coordinating such a high number of competitors, must not be forgotten. One of the reasons for the great satisfaction that encourages us to continue despite all the difficulties, is the enthusiasm and friendship that we find in all the contestants, who every year create not only a competition but a celebration of sport, where it is especially the desire to prove oneself against the magnificent surrounding scenery that remains alive.
1987 – One hundred and sixty-six competitors tackle seven passes in the heart of the Dolomites: Gardena, Sella, Fedaia, Duran, Forcella Staulanza, Falzarego and Valparola for a total of 175 kilometres. The starting and finishing lines are at Pedraces where at 5.15 p.m. the first to arrive is the Austrian Wolfgang Steinmayr, who was in the saddle for over 10 hours. There was only one woman at the starting line, Trui Beemsterboern from the Netherlands, who arrived one hour later than the winner.
1988 – There are two alternative routes: the first 184 kilometres long roughly follows the debut route. It rains and is cold. There is a halt at the shelter on the Duran Pass to take stock of the situation. Then the race starts again. Because of the difficulties, the times are not recorded. However, there were many competitors: out of the 440 who enrolled, 417 started: the last to arrive reaches the finishing line in Pedraces at 9.00 p.m.. He was so cold that in the hotel he was plunged into a bath of boiling water.
1989 – The number of entrants increases, especially from abroad. The starter is Maurizio Giupponi, a professional who came second in the Giro d’Italia the previous year. It is cold. It is so cold that the organizers decide to finish the race on the Giau Pass. There were 541 entrants on the starting line.
1990 – The routes change: the long one covers Valparola Pass, the descent to Cortina, then Tre Croci Pass, Lake Misurina, the watershed of Cimabanche, Cortina, Giau Pass, Colle Santa Lucia, Caprile, Fedaia Pass, Canazei, Pordoi Pass, Arabba and Campolongo Pass. It is 184 kilometres long with a climb of 5,000 metres. Each entrant is given the first souvenir jersey. The number of entrants again increases: they number 951 (there is also one American in the race).
1991 – The controls system changes: passages are recorded by a mark which is imprinted on the back numbers; on arrival the mark showing the route and the time taken to cover the route is read. Everything is recorded by computer systems. The bad weather returns: from Lake Misurina to Cortina, all hell breaks loose and there’s even hail. Then the sun comes out again to greet the victory of Rainer Emerich of Dobbiaco on the reduced route and Pasquale Fiscato from the Veneto region in the long route. There were 1292 entrants, including 32 women.
1992 – It’s raining and it’s cold. Out of 2583 entrants, only 1897 set off. Unfortunately the sixth edition is saddened by a very serious road accident that costs Luigi Nagler his life and injures Giovanni Fedrizzi.
Seventh edition in 1993: it is the last one with the departure from Pedraces where space is beginning to be insufficient. The number of cyclists is continuously increasing: there are 3095 this year, including 138 women. A fourth route of 160 kilometres without the Giau Pass is introduced: 1021 cyclists tackle it.
1994 – It’s the first boom of entrants: 5031 with over two thousand more than the previous year. The departure is from Corvara: there are a good 16 minutes between the head of the group and the tail. It is a splendid and very hot day. 111 competitors are caught without a helmet and are disqualified.
1995 – The ninth edition in 1995. The boom of entries continues and there are three grids at the departure in Corvara for the same number of groups with staggered departures. There are 6674 participants, over 1500 more than the previous year. There are not enough numbers (6500 had been ordered) or jerseys: the former are printed somehow by computer, the latter were sent by post to the contestants’ home address.
Edition number 10 in 1996. The number of entries totals 6463. The time recording system changes. The weather conditions are not excellent. It is raining and cold on the Sella. The Maratona dles Dolomites committee is set up and takes on the arduous task of continuing to organize the future editions of the long-distance cycling race.
It is the eleventh edition in 1997. The Organizing Committee of the Maratona dles Dolomites has been set up, which organizes the event in place of the Rodes Alta Badia. The race is combined, on 28th September of the same year, with the first edition of The Terrific Alta Badia Race named after the local cycling champion Maria Canins. For the first time a brochure is printed and the week preceding the race with various events that are not only cycling starts.
Twelfth edition in 1998. The pattern remains the same, the number of entrants increases every year to the point that the Committee is already thinking of setting a limit, the routes stay the same, the weather conditions give precious help to the organizers who can count on the help of numerous volunteers.
Edition number 13, it is 4th July 1999. The Datasport precision timing system comes into force, allowing recording in real time from departure to finish. In the meantime, interest grows in the cyclist’s week which begins with sports events and entertainment, as well as information, including the Tenerific Maria Canins, the cycling competition for children from 4 to 12.
In 2000 the fourteenth edition is held with the motto "Living is art". The most significant innovation is the change of the start to La Villa and the elimination of the Fedaia Pass from the route. The Organizing Committee fixes the limit of 6000 participants to improve the quality and guarantee maximum safety. Over 30 nationalities are at the starting line of the Maratona which is saddened by a tragedy: a competitor dies during the descent from the Giau Pass.
The next year – 2001 – is edition number 15 dedicated to "The magic lives in us": the maximum number of cyclists is increased and reaches 7000 participants.
In 2002 edition number 16 is held and is dedicated to women. For the first time, the Maratona dles Dolomites is broadcast live on TV making known to millions of people the beauties of the route which winds through the valleys of the Dolomites. The live broadcast is a huge success and will be repeated every year.
Edition number 17 is held in 2003 and is characterized by a praiseworthy initiative of the Organizing Committee. The race – dedicated to the disabled – is subject to anti-doping tests organized by the organizers. The cyclists, once they reach the finishing line, are tested by a team of doctors. The event is paired with the marathon of New York.
In 2004 edition number 18 is dedicated to the family on the occasion of the year of the family. The maximum number of cyclists is raised to 8000 and the entries are closed in a week, so great is the interest in the Maratona all over the world. All three routes of the race are closed to road traffic.
2005 – The following year – edition number 19 dedicated to the "Angels" – there is another innovation. In view of the growing number of entrants and requests for participation, the Committee introduces the system of a draw and therefore you compete only if you are drawn. The decision causes some controversy but in the end everybody accepts it.
2006 is the 20th edition along three routes which are now classic for the Maratona. The maximum limit is raised to 8500 competitors but the applications are almost twice that number. The race is dedicated to "Colours" and has as guest of honour Jetsum Pema, the sister of the Dalai Lama, representing the association Tibetan Children’s Village.
In 2007 „Gotes“ – Drops, edition number 21: 8500 entrants representing 39 countries. The race – again broadcast live on TV from early morning and with the roads closed to traffic – on a glorious day blessed by the sun, also has at the starting line, as in previous years, important names from sport and the economy. The cycling competition for children changes name and becomes the "Maratona for Kids", still under the supervision of Maria Canins.
In 2008, the 22nd edition is called „Fostüs“ – Traces and for the first time there was a film competition dedicated to the Maratona on YouTube.
In 2009, edition number 23 is dedicated to energy. The shuttle service begins to operate to avoid polluting the roads in Alta Badia. The number of applications for participation continues to increase but the number of competitors is still limited. Complaints begin to appear in the specialized magazines. Surprise at the finishing line: one of the first competitors to arrive is disqualified because in the race he was caught throwing litter.
2010 – Eco?Logical! For the 24th edition, the Maratona succeeds in being certified for 70% carbon neutrality. The aim is official recognition of the event as being able to limit all types of pollution. Closing the roads the cyclists pass through is one of the signs that contribute to this important result.
2011 – 25*GIULAN Thanks The 25th edition, the one of the historic goal. Already before the departure the whole starting area has been transformed into a stage for the performances. The celebrations at the starting-line through the sounds of hollowed out tree trunks and animals’ horns, or with jugglers’ numbers with natural objects such as bones, sticks and stones, the artists from Crop Circo, Gli Sgruzzi, I Trampolieri, WoodStone Percussion with the drums of the Alps and the Quartetto Desueto made this moment unique: they transformed the start into a real show.
The charity projects of this edition were assured by the Association of Groups of Belluno “Insieme si può” Onlus/NGO (www.365giorni.org), the rural solidarity fund „Südtiroler Bäuerlicher Notstandsfond“, the “La Strada – Der Weg” Association and the South Tyrol Tumour Association.
The Maratona started with an important innovation: the Five Star League consortium has been made official, under the patronage of the Ministry of Health and the Italian Olympic Committee. It brings together the 5 most important long-distance cycling races in Italy, Granfondo Felice Gimondi, the Nove Colli, the Sportful Dolomiti Race, lapinarello cycling marathon and the Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel. The five races are subject, as from this year, to two innovative principles of sporting ethics. The first is the exclusion from the race of Master Gold cyclists (former professionals who gave up their competitive activity less than five years ago), the under 23s and those in the elite category. In addition, the amateur cyclists who compete for the “amateur sector” ranking must undergo biological monitoring. The Ministry of Health aims at placing the greatest attention on anti-doping tests. The second innovative principle to protect the environment: littering is prohibited during the race. Anyone who is caught littering will automatically be excluded from all five long-distance races. One novelty of 2011 was also the title sponsor Enel.
2012 – SMILE! 6.30am: 8703 cyclists (746 women) started, with a huge smile, from La Villa under a blue sky and an exceptionally high temperature for the Dolomites, at 15°. The winner on the 138km course was Jamie Burrow in 4:38.24,6 followed by Luigi Salimbeni and Michel Snel. The Belgian Edith Van den Brande was the fastest woman, with a time of 5:18.39,1 followed by the swiss Laila Orenos and Maria Cristina Prati from Italy.
Between the VIPs at the start there was also Miguel Indurain, Rodolfo De Benedetti, Corrado Sciolla, Gianluca Rana, Paolo Garimberti, Gianfranco Comanducci, Giovanni Bruno, Linus, Manfred Mölgg, Stefano Gross, Cristian Zorzi, Jarno Trulli, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Iuri Chechi, Antonio Rossi, Maria Canins, Isolde Kostner, Renato di Rocco and many more.
The charity projects supportet also this year the Association of Groups of Belluno "Insieme si può" ("Together we can") non-profit making organization NPA/NGO; the two main projects were related to education. We also helped the areas affected by the big earthquake in Emilia.
But the Maratona dles Dolomites is not only a great celebration of sport, but also a celebration for the environment. Indeed, the organizing committee promoted also in 2012 several initiatives to encourage and support the eco-sustainability of the event. We replaced the plastic-bags used for the starter kits with new cloth bags. The official jerseys were delivered loose in big boxes and not wrapped individually, saving another mountain of waste (about 2000m of spared plastic). The eco-pocket was the second innovation of the 2012’s official jersey. The eco-pocket has grown out of a previous year’s participant’s non-accepted excuse by the organization, who had been disqualified because of littering, as he had been caught red-handed throwing away his rubbish outside the provided areas. The not so amused participant got back to us and explained that he had to throw away the sticky wrap of his bars because he was afraid he’d mess up his smartphone. This was a decisive impulse for the organization to create a jersey with a fourth pocket – the eco-pocket, for all the rubbish that has to return back home. At the final refreshment there were used plates and cups in polypropylene a special type of plastic which is fully recyclable. To encourage and support the eco-sustainability of the event, the organizing committee of the Maratona promoted a competition with the distribution of tickets o all the cyclists who, at the finishing line, after receiving the beverage, left the plastic bottle in a special container positioned immediately after the finishing line.
The 10 winners can participate in 2013 at the Maratona for free. For safeguarding the environment and alleviating traffic during the distribution of the starting numbers, a free shuttle bus service has been offered to bring all the cyclists from the villages to the distribution of numbers and expo-area. The paper in the goodies bag has been reduced by 60%. The staff by cleaning up the streets the day after the Maratona, could see a reduction of waste by 50% compared to the previous years. Taking part in the Maratona therefore means not only being part of a great and thrilling cycling race, but also participate in an eco-friendly ambitious challenge.
27th Maratona dles Dolomites-Enel Sunday, 30th June 2013. A colorful challenge of emotions: cold, snow, sun, passion and competition. All in perfect harmony, the theme of this edition. With a temperature of 5 degrees 9143 cyclists from 52 nationalities started at 6:30 am to the conquest of the legendary mountain passes Campolongo, Sella, Pordoi, Gardena, Giau and Falzarego-Valparola strictly closed to traffic. Michel Snel won in 4 hours 43 minutes and 29 seconds followed by Vincenzo Pisani and Roberto Napolitano. The fastest lady was Claudia Gentili followed by Sandra Marconi and Ilaria Lombardo.
The Gods of the Dolomites shone down again arranging great weather for the 28th Maratona dles Dolomites-Enel, which took place on July 6, 2014 with "time" as theme. 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 the cyclists didn’t cook on the final and toughest climbs of the day. The innovation of this year was the ‘mür dl giat’, or ‘cat’s wall’. A short but lung busting, lactic-inducing right-hander of 19% took the riders 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 supported all the riders on the course. Stefano Cecchini won in 4 hours 44 minutes and 15 seconds followed by Tiziano Lombardi and Roberto Cunico. The fastest lady was Astrid Schartmüller followed by Laetitia Roux and Gloria Bee.
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