Marathon in Rome prepares for 19th edition on March 23, by Ellen Miller

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On March 23 a huge group of runners will set out to conquer the cobblestones in the twentieth edition of the Rome Marathon. Because the marathon is being held on a Sunday this year, it has been moved to start ten minutes earlier at 8:50 to accommodate tourists arriving for the pope’s Angelus prayer, held at noon on Sundays. The race kicks off in the shadow of the Coliseum, and despite Rome’s hills is a relatively flat race. However, runners must run over cobblestones during portions of the race, which can be challenging.

Runners can run for a charity of their choice or one included in the grouping of charities that the marathon officially supports. The course winds past most of Rome’s main sights, including Saint Peter’s Square, where for a time the start of the race was held. The Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Venezia and Piazza di Spagna are other notable Roman landmarks that runners will be able to glance at in awe as they jog (or sprint) past. The race is a great way to see the major sights of Rome; just do not forget that you have to finish in seven hours!

One of the most famous marathons ever was held in Rome during the 1960 Olympic Games. During the race, an Ethiopian named Abebe Bikila quickly outdistanced the rest of the pack and took gold—all in his bare feet. Fifty years later, another Ethiopian named Siraj Gena won the Roma marathon, also running in his bare feet, an appropriate celebration of the momentous historic event.

Registration for the marathon closes March 10. When registering all athletes must provide a health form validated by a doctor along with their registration and fee. All participants receive a backpack and technical tee as part of their registration fee.

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