Maratona dles Dolomites

The Maratona dles Dolomites (Ladin for "Dolomites Marathon"; Italian: Maratona delle Dolomiti), is an annual single-day road bicycle race covering seven mountain passes in the Dolomites. Open to amateur cyclists, the Maratona—with 9,000 riders from over 70 nations—is one of the biggest Italian Granfondo bicycle races.[1] National Geographic described it as "one of the biggest, most passionate, and most chaotic bike races on Earth."[2]

Maratona dles Dolomites
Maratona dles Dolomites - Sella Pass.jpg
DateFirst week in July
RegionTrentino-South Tyrol, Italy
Nickname(s)Maratona dles Dolomites
TypeSingle-day race
OrganiserMaratona dles Dolomites Committee
Race directorMichil Costa
First edition1987 (1987)
Editions33(as of 2019)
Start of the race in La Villa
Altitude profile of the courses: Sellaronda in blue, the middle course in orange and the additional pass of the full Maratona in yellow
The first pass of the day
In the heart of the Dolomites
The Finish in Corvara


1987 - 1993Edit

The Pioneers of PedracesEdit

The first Maratona dles Dolomites was run on 12 July 1987. This was a celebration of the first 10 years of the cycling club Societá Ciclistica Alta Badia-Raiffeisen. The route was unique and snaked through seven Dolomite passes: Gardena, Sella, Fedaia, Duran, Forcella Staulanza, Falzarego and Valparola over 175 kilometres. It started and ended in Pedraces. There are 166 participants. The first to pass the finish line was the Austrian Wolfgang Steinmayr who rode for over ten hours. There was also a single woman: Trui Beemsterboern from Holland, who arrived one hour after the winner. The organising committee of the time never imagined that it was the start of an event that would become part of non-professional cycling contest history worldwide.

In 1988 there were two routes. The first was 184 km long and mainly followed the roads of the first edition. The second was shorter. The cold, rainy day created quite a few problems for the 440 competitors. 417 people started the race. At the Duran Pass they stopped to decide what to do. The competition times were cancelled, but the race continued. The last competitor arrived at 9 pm virtually frozen to death. A tub of boiling water awaited him in the hotel.

It was also icy cold in 1989, which featured the Maratona pennant for the first time. The number of competitors continued to increase to 541. The starter was an exceptional professional, Flavio Giupponi, who had come second in the Giro d’Italia the year before. The day was so cold that the organisers decided to end the race at the Giau Pass.

The route changed, but not the substance: the 1990 Maratona was 184 km long and included the Valparola Pass, descended to Cortina, the Tre Croci Pass, Misurina Lake, the Cimabanche watershed, Cortina, the Giau Pass, Colle Santa Lucia, Caprile, the Fedaia Pass, Canazei, the Pordoi Pass, Arabba and the Campolongo Pass. There were 5000 metres of difference in altitude. There was also a shorter, more manageable route. There were 951 participants, including the first American. It was also the year of the first Maratona jersey that was given to all competitors.

1991: there were over 1000 participants – 1292 to be precise – of whom 32 were women and the Maratona finish line became electronic. The passages and times of competitors were recorded by a sign on the rear numbers and registered by IT systems. The weather was bad once again: it poured down from Lake Misurina to Cortina. The hail was painful. Then the sun returned to shine on the winner, Rainer Emerich of Dobbiaco on the short route and Pasquale Fiscato, from Veneto, on the long route.

1992 was the saddest year in the history of the Maratona. 2583 signed up but only 1897 took part. The cold was biting and it rained heavily. A serious road accident cost Luigi Nagler his life and injured Giovanni Fedrizzi.

The Maratona’s success continued to grow exponentially. In 1993 there were over 3000 participants (3095 of whom 138 were women). For logistical reasons this was the last Maratona that left from Pedraces. It was the end of the pioneering era and a new modern era began for the most fascinating race in the world. This edition’s route was 160 km long, without the Giau Pass.

1994 - 1999Edit

The Modern AgeEdit

1994 saw a new phase of the Maratona: there was such an increase in participants that the organisers decided to move the start of the race to Corvara. 5031 people took part – almost 2000 more than the previous year. There was a start time difference of over 16 minutes between the front of the group and the rear. It was a lovely day and the competitors felt the heat. 111 riders were caught without a helmet and were disqualified.

The Maratona continued to grow: 1995 saw 6674 people sign up - 1500 more than the year before. There weren’t enough numbers (6500 had been ordered) or jerseys: the former were printed hurriedly on a computer, while the latter were posted to competitors’ homes. There were starting grids, with three groups of riders starting at different times.

1996 was an important year for the Maratona. The Maratona dles Dolomites Committee was formed and substituted the Rodes Alta Badia, with the arduous task of organising and foreseeing the ‘future’ of what was becoming a special event as part of a gran fondo cycle race. 6463 people signed up. There was bad weather, it rained and was cold on the Sella, but  "the show must go on".

1997: The first decision of the Maratona dles Dolomites Committee was to combine the race, on 28 September the same year, with the first edition of The Terrific Alta Badia Race, named after local champion Maria Canins. A brochure was printed for the first time and the week before the competition was filled with lots of events – not only linked to cycling.  

The growing success of the Maratona led the new committee to think of limiting numbers, although the competition retained the same format in 1998. It was a splendid day and the help of volunteers made it a perfect race.

1999 saw the introduction of the Datasport precision timing system, with Datachips that took readings in real time from start to finish. The formula of a cyclists’ week gained even more ground, thanks to sports and entertainment events, as well as collateral events to the Maratona, including the Tenerific Maria Canins, a cycle race for kids aged 4 to 12.

2000 - 2005Edit

The Maratona begins to speakEdit

2000 saw some great new features. Firstly, from now on, each edition would have a motto, a key word, theme or special dedication. It began with ‘Living is an Art’ and it was a great journey. The start was moved to La Villa and the Fedaia Pass was no longer part of the route. The committee established a fixed number of 6000 participants. Over 30 nationalities took part. However, the edition was marked by a terrible accident: a competitor died while coming down the Giau Pass.

The theme for 2001 was ‘Magic Lives in Us‘. The fixed number of participants was raised to 7000.

The 2002 edition was dedicated to women and was broadcast live for the first time on RAI3. It was an unexpected success: millions of people discovered the wonders of the route wedged between the Dolomites. All future editions of the Maratona dles Dolomites would be broadcast live on T.V.

In 2003 the Maratona was dedicated to the differently-abled and was twinned with the New York Marathon. Organisers decided to introduce anti-doping tests.

The family was the focus of the 2004 edition. All three routes were closed to traffic for the first time. The Maratona without cars was amazing. The maximum number of participants was increased to 8000 and registration ended in one week.

The 2005 edition of the Maratona was dedicated to ‘angels’. There was also another new feature: given the growing number of participants and requests to take part, the committee introduced a draw system, so you could only take part if your name was drawn. The decision was a little controversial, but was eventually accepted by everyone.

2006 - 2010Edit

The Modern AgeEdit

The 2006 edition took place over three routes that would now become the usual ones. The Maratona was dedicated to ‘colours’ and had a very special guest: Jetsum Pema, the sister of the Dalai Lama, representing the Tibetan Children's Village Association. The maximum number of participants was increased to 8500 competitors, but requests to take part were almost double that.

‘Gotes’- ‘drops’, was the key word for 2007. Fortunately for the riders they were drops of sweat not of rain, given the wonderful day. There were 8500 participants from 39 countries. As in previous years there were famous names from the sports and business world at the starting line. The kids’ cycle race changed its name and became the "Maratona for Kids", still organised by Maria Canins.

The success of the Maratona continued in 2008, known as ‘Fostüs’, ‘traces’. As always the race was broadcast live from the start and for the first time there was a Youtube film contest dedicated to the Maratona.

Energy was the theme of 2009. A shuttle service was set up to avoid polluting roads in Alta Badia. The number of requests to take part increased continually, but the maximum number remained fixed. People began to complain in sector publications. There was a surprise at the finish line: one of the first competitors to arrive was disqualified because he was caught throwing waste away during the race.

The ecological focus of the Maratona is increasingly central and evident, to the point where the 2010 edition was entitled ‘Eco?Logical!’. The event boasted 70% carbon neutral certification. The idea was to gain international recognition for the event that managed to reduce all kinds of pollution. Closing the race routes to cars made an important contribution to this.

2011 - 2019Edit

An Aware MaratonaEdit

‘Giulan’ – ‘thanks’  was the title of the 2011 Maratona, now in its 25th year. 9131 days had passed since 1987 when the first Maratona was staged with 166 cyclists over 177 km. Some of these, like Giorgio Apolloni with bib no. 1 and Roberto Della Noce, no. 2, still race today with the same enthusiasm as in the past. The race is also ridden by Olympic champions, Italian and international managers and famous people, who have long enjoyed the exciting challenge that allows them to admire the Dolomites: a UNESCO World Heritage Site. ENEL became a title sponsor of the event.

2012: was the year of the ‘Smile’. 8703 cyclists competed, 746 of whom were women. As always, there were many well-known figures and it was a marvellous day.  The Maratona dles Dolomites is not only a great sports festival, but a celebration of the environment. There are lots of initiatives as incentives for an eco-sustainable event. New features in 2012 included: official jerseys no longer wrapped individually in plastic packages (eliminating a ton of useless waste – around 2000 m of plastic), the eco-pocket on the side of the jersey, the use of completely recyclable propylene cups and plates at the finish line refreshment point and a 60% reduction in paper inside the race packs, thanks to the help of partners and sponsors. Numbered slips were also given out to all riders at the finish line who, once they had received a drink, gave the plastic bottle back for collection in a recycling bin. Among the slips given out, some were chosen for free registration in the next Maratona dles Dolomites. There was once again a free shuttle bus to take cyclists to the expo and bib distribution area. Finally, the cleaning staff saw a 50% reduction in waste on the Maratona roads. The event’s "Carbon Neutrality" index in 2012 was 80%. A great result.

Cold, snow, sun and dedication followed in perfect ‘Harmony’ - the theme of the  2013 edition. There were 9143 cyclists of the 9339 selected by lottery, from 52 countries. The temperature at 6.30 am, the time the race started, was 5°. Despite the cold, the competitors raced to conquer the Dolomite passes with the usual courage. Michil Costa, the event organiser, described the day after 6 hours of live TV broadcasting as "…an important page in a book of wonders, the ideal combination of nature, culture and plenty of heart".

‘Time’ was the main theme of 2014. 8969 riders left La Villa in a 36-minute long train, the time it took the cyclists to enter the competition to the rhythm of live music and encouragement. There were large numbers and a huge demand for participation (32,600 people), with the usual formula: a fixed number of participants, car-free Dolomite passes, charity initiatives and eco-sustainability, with the use of electric cars and motorbikes to transport the jury and the race organisers. The "mür dl giat" was the great new feature. All cyclists on the medium and long route, during the second passage through La Villa, were asked to face a final tough challenge: 200 m after the turn for Corvara, then had to climb the  "mür dl giat" (the cat’s wall), as the inhabitants of La Villa are known as ‘cats’. This was a deviation with a 19% grade that crossed La Villa. At the top it re-joined the main route to the finish line in Corvara.

A marvellous day greeted the 9.302 athletes from 64 countries. The Maratona 2015 was confirmed once again as even more of an international event. The theme of the race ‘Forgiveness’, demonstrated that it was a far-ranging event that touched all our sensibilities. There is no beauty without awareness. And the Maratona is a constant invitation to ride with strong legs and an open mind.

2016: 8.903 cyclists started their Maratona dles Dolomites - Enel at 6.30 a.m from La Villa. A long, big snake of cyclists that took about 36 minutes to begin the race with a gorgeous landscape and an enchanting and exciting music to incite the start. That’s a high numbers’ mechanism with more than 33.000 pre-registrations but a limited numbers race.

Half the cyclists are Italian, the other half are a heterogeneous group from five different continents: Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium will represent Europe; Qatar, Japan, Korea, Colombia and Kazakhstan, are only some of the nationalities of the cyclists travelling from afar. The theme chosen for the 30th Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel was ‘the journey’.

The theme chosen for the 31st Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel was LOVE. 9.129 cyclists (962 women) from 69 countries started the Maratona on sunday 2 July '2017' at 6.30 a.m from La Villa. That’s a high numbers’ mechanism with more than 33.500 pre-registrations but a limited numbers race; the Dolomite passes closed for all the race long; charity’s objective and eco-sustainable way to live the race with electrical cars and motorbikes for internal use.

Among the participants there was for the first time also Sir Bradley Wiggins who is not just one of the world’s most famous cyclists, an exceptional track racer and a time trial record holder. His successes include also the Tour de France and several Olympic gold medals. "I really enjoyed it although it was very tough" were the first words of Sir Bradley Wiggins at the finish line.

A game which twists and turns through the 7 Dolomite passes: Pordoi, Sella, Campolongo, Falzarego, Gardena, Valparola, Giau, starting from La Villa and finishing to Corvara. 3 routes: the long one of 138 km and 4230 mt of altitude; the medium one of 106 km and 3130 mt of altitude and Sella Ronda of 55 km and 1780 mt of altitude.

The theme chosen for the 32nd Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel was EQUILIBRIUM. Sunday, 1 July 2018: a perfect start with mild temperatures and under a blue sky. These were the conditions at 6.30 am when 9239 cyclists (including 978 women) started the 32nd edition of the Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel 2018. This year the traditional starting pistol was fired by Eddy Merckx, a world cycling legend.

There are always many flags flying at the queen of the international granfondo sportives: 68 different countries (from the five continents) were represented. This year 4,900 cyclists participated for the first time. And their total number was equally subdivided between Italians (50%) and foreigners (50%).

There are three courses over the passes, closed to traffic, that made history in cycling: Pordoi, Sella, Campolongo, Falzarego, Gardena, Valparola, Giau, all of them strictly closed to traffic.

Distances: Maratona / long course 138 km and 4230 m. altitude gain, Middle course 106 km and 3130 m. altitude gain and Sella Ronda course 55 km and 1780 m. altitude gain.

For the second year in a row, the winner of the Maratona dles Dolomites was Tommaso Elettrico from Matera in 4h38’13" followed by Igor Zanetti and Paolo Castelnovo, both after 50". The women edition was won by the German Christina Rausch.

The theme chosen for the 33rd Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel was DUMAN, TOMORROW.

Sunday, 5 July 2019, the rays of the sun caressed the 9038 cyclists, including 926 women, who started precisely at 6.30 a.m., as usual. For more than half an hour, racers paraded on the road from La Villa to Corvara and then they tackled the first difficulty of the race, i.e. the Campolongo. It was a colourful procession that painted the hairpin turns and that then grew thinner and thinner as the road climbed to the mountain pass. These emotions were described live on TV, on the RAI 2 channel, that followed the entire race in a 6 hour long sequence of images.

It is numbers that crown the Maratona dles Dolomites-Enel as the queen of the international granfondo sportives: participants came from 72 different countries and five continents and were equally subdivided between Italians (50%) and foreigners (50%).

The theme of tomorrow highlighted the charity initiatives that have always been characteristic of the Maratona dles Dolomites-Enel. Tomorrow is closely linked to today, as evidenced by the initiatives of solidarity in favour of the Colle Santa Lucia and Livinallongo municipalities, through which the Maratona cyclists have raced for years. On October 29, 2018 a storm caused huge damage and destroyed millions of trees, roads and paths. For this reason, the Committee of the Maratona dles Dolomites - Enel organized this year a fund-raising initiative for the two Municipalities using special entries to the race.

The Maratona looks at the larger world and this is testified to by the cooperation with Healthy Seas and with the ‘Insieme si può’ association that started a series of solidarity initiatives in Uganda.

Also many VIP's cycled the Maratona: Martina Colombari, Nicola Savino, Paolo Bettini, Davide Cassani, Robert Kubica, Alex Zanardi, Carlos Checa, Filippo Pozzato, Dorothea Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi, Sofia Goggia, Kristian Ghedina, Vittorio Brumotti, Federico Pellegrino, Maria Canins and many others.

For the third year in a row, the winner of the Maratona dles Dolomites was the Italian Tommaso Elettrico in 4h36’20" followed by Fabio Cini and Vincenzo Pisani, both after 4'. The women edition was again won by the German Christina Rausch followed by Martha Maltha and Simona Parente.

The raceEdit

The race is divided into three courses of varying difficulty: the Sellaronda course, the Middle course and the Maratona course. All riders start at 6:30am in the village of La Ila and complete the four pass Sellaronda course first. After completing the Sellaronda course riders can either choose to finish the race or proceed directly onwards with the Middle course. As the Maratona course is an extension of the preceding shorter Middle course, riders doing the full Maratona dles Dolomites have to proceed with the Middle course.[3] All three courses go through the Dolomite mountains around the Sella Group and over roads, the Giro d'Italia have taken place. The roads are lined with thousands of spectators and the event is broadcast live on Italian national broadcaster RAI.[1][4] Along the courses seven refreshment stations are manned by volunteers, with foods and drinks, varying from sports drink to coffee to Strudel or Speck sandwiches.

Riders' WeekEdit

The week prior to the Maratona is an event called "Riders' Week". Group rides, training rides, cycling events, and parties are organized and held daily. Many racers therefore spend the entire week preceding the Maratona in the Val Badia.

The coursesEdit

(see also: external map of the courses)

Sellaronda courseEdit

The Sellaronda course starts in the village of La Ila and finishes in the village of Corvara. The course goes clockwise around the Sella mountain group. Four passes must be surmounted to finish the course. After the start the course follows the main road through the Val Badia to the village of Corvara. The ascent to Campolongo Pass begins immediately behind the village. After crossing Campolongo Pass the course descends to the village of Arabba in the Fodom valley; from there it climbs to the Pordoi Pass and then descends into the Fassa valley. There the climb to the Sella Pass begins, from which the riders descend into Gardena valley. The last pass the Sellaronda course traverses is the Gardena Pass. From it the course begins its final descent towards the finish at Corvara.

Middle courseEdit

The Middle course follows immediately after the Sellaronda course. Riders wishing to tackle it, do not stop after the Sellaronda's finish line, but directly proceed to ascend Campolongo Pass a second time. In Arabba the middle course deviates from the earlier course and follows the road out of the Fodom valley to the village of Cernadoi. Here the course splits: rider choosing to do the entire Maratona proceed to the village of Colle Santa Lucia, while the remaining riders begin the ascend to the Falzarego Pass. At the top of the pass riders climb further 80m to reach the Valparola Pass. From there the road descends to the village of San Ćiascian and passing through La Ila reaches the finishing line in Corvara.

Maratona courseEdit

Riders who have chosen to do the Maratona course split off from the Middle course in the village of Cernadoi. The Maratona dles Dolomites proceeds from there to the village and uncategorised climb of the Colle Santa Lucia, after which the steepest of all climbs begins: the climb to Giau Pass. From Giau Pass the road goes down to Pocol, from where the course rises to the Falzarego Pass. There it reunites with the Middle course and having crossed Valparola Pass follows the same road through San Ćiascian and La Ila to the finish line in Corvara.

Recent ResultsEdit

Year km Participants Sex Winner NAT. Time
2019 138 9192 M Elettrico Tommaso ITA 4:36
F Rausch Christina GER 5:22
2018 138 9382 M Elettrico Tommaso ITA 4:38
F Rausch Christina GER 5:19
2017 138 9305 M Elettrico Tommaso ITA 4:37
F Magnaldi Erica ITA 5:16
2016 138 9302 M Nardecchia Cristian ITA 4:40:29
F Lancioni Barbara ITA 5:14
2015 138 9302 M Salimbene Luigi ITA 4:44
2014 138 8969 M Cecchini Stefano ITA 4:44:15
2013 138 9143 M Snel Michel NLD 4:43:29
2012 138 8705 M Burrow Jamie GBR 4:38:24
2011 138 9121 M Sorrenti Mazzocchi Giuseppe ITA 4:33:55
2010 138 9066 M Kairelis Dainius LTU 4:35:52
2009 138 9171 M Burrow Jamie GBR 4:37:56
2008 138 9409 M Negrini Emanuele ITA 4:29:05
2007 138 8993 M Jones Timothy RSA 4:32:28
2006 138 8864 M Negrini Emanuele ITA 4:23:31
2005 147 8820 M Negrini Emanuele ITA 4:28:52
2004 147 8338 M Negrini Emanuele ITA 4:31:38
2003 147 8119 M Negrini Emanuele ITA 4:38:04
2002 147 7565 M Bachini Maurizio ITA 4:32:57
2001 147 7000 M Puglioli Mirko ITA 4:38:55
2000 147 7058 M Bruseghin Marzio ITA 4:38:29
1999 174 6394 M Moretti Roberto ITA 5:28:02
1998 174 6097 M Paganessi Alessandro ITA 5:43
1997 185 5808 M Paganessi Alessandro ITA 6:02
1996 185 6463 Bertozzi Daniele ITA 6:22
1995 185 6674 M Bertozzi Daniele ITA 6:10
1994 185 5031 M Anderlini Giuliano ITA 6:25
1993 185 3095 M Anderlini Giuliano ITA 6:51
1992 194 2583 M Esser Peter GER 6:14
1991 184 1292 M Fiscato Pasquale ITA 7:02
1990 184 951 M Anderlini Giuliano ITA 7:19
1989 184 541 (race stopped at Passo Giau due to bad weather)
1988 184 440 (without time measurement)
1987 175 166 M Steinmair Wolfgang AUT 10:15


  1. ^ a b Cycling Weekly; July 3, 2008
  2. ^ National Geographic, Italy's Cycle of Life Archived 2009-02-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Italy's Cycle of Life

External linksEdit