Success – The 2009 Maratona dles Dolomites


Sunday, Martin and I successfully completed the Maratona dles Dolomites.

138 kms; 4,000 metres of vertical ascent along maybe the most beautiful route I have ever ridden. For a more detailed preview of the course see here.

7 main climbs with 5 above 2,000 metres. Lots of sunshine and YES, a little hail. For the official results – click here .

Just about every photo was taking while sitting on my bike. 😉

This event was brilliantly organized. Amazing course, Roads closed to cars for entire route, frequent food/drink stations, frequent mechanic aid stations, newly surfaced roads, above average after race food, etc.

With something like 10,000 riders, the first third of the race was crowded, but the views of thousands of riders snaking up mountains was incredible. Every one was in good spirits and several of us commented how “respectful” and cheerful the peloton was.

The only traffic of the day were endless ambulances passing by. A sobering reminder of how dangerous descending large mountains can be.

The first section of the race was a 55 km loop around the Sella Ronde, climbing 4 Passes (Campolongo, Pordoi, Sella, and Gardena). Perhaps as enjoyable and beautiful a ride as I have had. At this point, we were still fresh enough to gasp at every new panorama (this would change later).

After the loop, we then climbed Campolongo again and realized there was still an awful lot of work to do – we were less than half way.

Passo Giau was by far the hardest part of the day. It was suddenly dead quiet, with the only sounds heavy breathing as we all concentrated on passing the 29 sign-posted hairpins.

10 kms averaging 9.3% was misleading as some flat parts meant there were long stretches far steeper.

As we approached the top, the weather started turning. And as I finished stuffing my face with food, it started to pour with cold rain. This was at 2235 metres and I decided the only sensible plan was to descend immediately. And then it started hailing (ok it was pretty light hail)!

Fortunately, after a few kms we rode out of the storm – and despite threatening skies I made it to the finish before the next brief downpour.

The final climb to Passo Val Parola was much easier, and I enjoyed a very fast final descent to the finish – in fact I enjoyed all the descents more than I usually do, in part due to the superb road surfaces.

Other cyclosportives I was pleased to have done once. But I would happily do the Maratona dles Dolomites again. As good as it gets.


Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Wonderful ! It looks like Vercors (east side), but higher !
    That’s incredible that you are always in high altitud (the lower is… 1350 metres !), so the climbs aren’t very long and with a weak ascent but if you add a little climb with an other, an other, and an other again, it becomes a very big climb (I have never ridden 4,000 metres of vertical). Congratulations !

    Some questions:
    What about altitude signs ?
    How long does it take to go there, from Geneva ?
    And… What was your position at the end of the race ? 😉

  2. Only 3 letters : WOW!!!
    And of course very happy to hear you both finished in good shape.
    BTW Will, I heard you finished before Martin. 🙂 What did you put in your bottles???

  3. Salut Bastien,

    1. It is about an 8 hour drive from Geneva – but took us 11 due to a traffic jam near Milan. C’est vraiment magnifique ici.

    2. I think I have altitude sign photos of all the Passes above – but I thought the temporary race signs were often better than the official signs – and I had to act quick because I didn’t always get off the bike 😉

    3. My position? I consider finishing a victory but …. there were three events a 55km, a 108 km and the 138km. 4300 men finished the 138km — I was 2,929th! – Considering I was passed by several hundred riders on every descent and stopped to feast at most of the drink stations- it wasn’t too bad for an old guy like me 😉

  4. Larry (Le Chef) on


    Congratulations on another epic day. Thanks for sending this note and blog report. Outstanding. And, I concur with Leslie’s comment, come ride Sella Ronda with us in August – only 55 kms!!!

    Larry (Le Chef)

  5. Will,
    I’ve lived in Aix-les-Bains for the past year (sadly, we return to dead-flat Stockholm in 3 weeks) and started cycling to see if I could get up Mont Revard on my hybrid while I was here. Your website has provided much of the inspiration to achieve that and to try new climbs, and I’m quite bitten by the climbing bug. So, a big thanks for that!

    That being said, this race looked amazing.! Well done on your efforts. One day…

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  7. Hi Will,
    I was there as well and it was fantastic, I’ve done a few sportives but this one is definitely the best organised and most spectacular. I did suffer, like most, on the Giau and the hailstorm did make the descent something of an adventure, but the closed roads made it a very stress free ride especially on the descents. The atmosphere was electric, with all the helicopters coming by every now and then and being televised (6 hours live coverage on Italian tv!). Well done on your time, but you’re right finishing it is award enough. The free jersey was a welcome gift too. I want to go again… NOW!

  8. Hey there Will,

    A great summary about your experience throughout the maratona dles dolomites.
    For me, just having turned 18, this was my first real cycling-tour to pass (or well apart from 2 150-kilometres courses around belgium and holland)
    My goal was to ride under 8 hours, and it worked out 😀 (I beat my dad by 20 mins hehe)
    In my experience the Valzarego was a lot tougher than the Giau though, probably because it seemed like a climb that wouldn’t end 😛 (my legs were suddenly amazingly fresh on the Giau)
    I hate the fact that we don’t have a lot of mountains around my living region, getting addicted to climbing 🙂

    Congratulations on passing the maratona, and have loads of fun on other events ^^

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  11. hola amigo will, una pregunta con que te quedarias con La marmotte o la Maratone, yo el año que viene tengo dudas de la Maratone o Alpebrevet tu que opinas

  12. fptruedas:


    For me, the Maratona dles Dolomites is the best event of the three. Very, very beautiful and closed to cars for everyone- even slow riders (like me). Fantastic.

    Next, alpenbrevet is very good. The Platinum route is too difficult for me. I have done the silver which is great and the Gold would be even better.

    Both of the above are quieter – and for me – even better than La Marmotte.

    BTW, congratulations on your great La Marmotte achievement.

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