The Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel is one of the classic cycle events on the amateur gran fondo/sportive calendar. It takes place against the spectacular backdrop of the Italian Dolomites and provides participants the chance to pit themselves against a gruelling 138 kilometre route, incorporating dramatic passes.

We’ve ridden the Maratona route and written this guide to help anyone that’s thinking of entering, or has entered and is looking for more information on what the Maratona dles Dolomites event entails.

We’ve also picked the brains of Andy Mylrea from Sports Tours International. Sports Tours is an official partner of the Maratona and has been running tours at the sportive for over 10 years. Andy’s got some really valuable tips, which we’ve included throughout.

This guide provides an overview of the Maratona dles Dolomites to be held on 7 July 2024. Please read the rules, entry conditions and information on the official website if you want to take part. In the event of any discrepancy between this guide and information on the official website, please rely on the official website. We are not the organisers of the event (nor are we connected with them). 

Part 1: Overview

What is the Maratona dles Dolomites?

The Maratona dles Dolomites is an annually staged one day road race which negotiates seven famous mountain passes in the Dolomites mountain range. The event is open to amateurs and is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, gran fondo in Italy. It’s been running since 1987.

Maratona dles Dolomites when translated from the local Ladin language means “Dolomites Marathon’. As you’d expect in this mountainous part of the world, all of the three routes are packed with elevation.

The National Geographic magazine once described the Maratona dles Dolomites sportive as ‘one of the biggest, most passionate and most chaotic races on Earth’.

Since its inception the race/granfondo has become one of the most important and sought-after amateur cycling events in Europe.

The 8,000 entry places sell out very quickly and in 2023 participants from over 70 different nations competed in this event in the Alta Badia region.

The course is lined with thousands of spectators and it is so popular that it is actually broadcast live by the Italian national broadcaster RAI.

Despite that National Geographic quote, it has earned a stellar reputation as being very well organised and there are no less than seven refreshment/food stations on the course, all staffed by volunteers.

View of the Maratona dles Dolomites preparations

Start area for the Maratona dles Dolomites

Courses

The race starts in the small town of La Villa near Corvara and offers three courses –

  • a short course (also known as the Sellaronda course) of 55 kilometres with four passes to navigate
  • a middle course of 106 kilometres and six mountain passes; and
  • the infamous long course over 138 kilometres incorporating eight passes.

The long course, also known as the Maratona course, includes over 4,000 metres of elevation gain and includes some very famous climbs, many of which are used in the Giro d’Italia. In the order they appear on the course, the passes are: Passo Campolongo, Passo Pordoi, Passo Sella, Passo Gardena, Passo Campolongo (again), Passo Giau and the Passo Falzarego and Valparola.

Why ride the Maratona?

One of the advantages of the Maratona is that irrespective of the course you have chosen everyone starts and finishes in Corvara. This means you can change your route at certain points of the course depending upon how you feel.

According to Andy from Sports Tours, “another key benefit is the very fact that there are three courses to choose from; that’s not the case at all events. So, if you’re not experienced over long distances, you can still participate in a gran fondo on one of the shorter routes and have the sense of completion that you get from that.”

Tell me about the Maratona dles Dolomites routes in more detail

There are three routes from which to choose when you enter the Maratona dles Dolomites:

  • Sellaronda (short) course
  • Middle course
  • Maratona (long) course.
Sellaronda Course

The Sellaronda Course starts in the village of La Villa and finishes in nearby Corvara. The circular course travels clockwise around the Sella mountain chain and includes four mountain passes.

Soon after the start the ascent to the Campolongo pass begins. After crossing the summit of the Campolongo the road descends to the village of Arabba and then climbs the Passo Pordoi.

Riders then descend from the Pordoi into the Fassa valley and then start to climb the Passo Sella. After scaling the Sella, participants descend into the Gardena valley before taking on the final pass of the day – the Passo Gardena.

Everyone then enjoys the downhill section into Corvara.

  • Total distance – 55k and 1,780m of elevation
Middle Course

Riders wanting to ride the middle course effectively complete the Sellaronda course. However, when they get to the Corvara finishing line, they continue.

For the second time in the day, they then take on the Passo Campolongo. This is followed by the same descent into Arabba.

Here participants take the road to the village of Cernadoi where the road splits and middle course entrants begin the ascent of the Passo Falzarego.

At the top of this pass, riders continue for another 80 metres to reach the top of the Passo Valparola. The road then goes back downhill into Corvara for the finish.

  • Total distance – 106km and 3,130m of elevation
Maratona Course

Riders taking on the epic long course split from the middle course in Cernadoi and, after taking on a small uncategorised climb of the Colle Santa Lucia, take on the fearsome Passo Giau.

The descent from the Giau takes these riders to the Falzarego and Valparola where they reunite with the middle course riders. Having crossed the Valparola they descend back to Corvara for the finish.

  • Total distance – 138km and 4,230m of elevation

Which mountain passes are on which of the Maratona dles Dolomites courses?

The Maratona dles Dolomites route is arranged around the seven mountain passes in the table below (in the order listed).

 

Mountain Pass Statistics Short course Medium course Long course
Campolongo

5.8km

+353m

6.1%

Yes Yes Yes
Pordoi

9.2km

+638m

6.9%

Yes Yes Yes
Sella

5.5km

+436m

7.9%

Yes Yes Yes
Gardena

5.8km

+250m

4.3%

Yes Yes Yes
Campolongo (2)

5.8km

353m

6.1%

No Yes Yes
Giau

9.9km

+922m

9.3%

No No Yes

Falzarego/

Valparola

11.5km

+665m

5.8%

No Yes Yes

On the middle and long course, the Passo Campolongo is climbed twice. This means that there are four passes on the short course, six passes to climb on the medium course and seven passes to climb on the long course.

View of mountains in the Dolomites

The kind of incredible mountain panoramas you can expect on the Maratona

Tell me more about the mountain passes on the Maratona cycling route?

Passo Campolongo

  • Features as Maratona dles Dolomites climb number 1 and 5 (Corvara to Arabba).
  • Andy from Sports Tours says “The Campolongo stands out because of its unique terrain. Unlike other passes in the Dolomites, which have flat or nearly flat hairpin bends and steep straights, the Campolongo is the opposite. It has sharp hairpin turns and relatively gentle straights. It’s worth mentioning that there are a total of 13 hairpin turns on this pass!”
  • For more details, check out our Passo Campolongo ride guide (also here’s a GPX and Strava segment)

Passo Pordoi

  • Features as Maratona dles Dolomites climb number 2 (Arabba to Canazei).
  • Andy from Sports Tours says “The Pordoi is a famous climb in world cycling. It appeared in the Giro d’Italia 39 times since its introduction in 1940 (details here). This 20th century engineering masterpiece has 33 hairpin bends. It starts in the ski village of Arabba and rises in a straight line at an almost constant 7%. It is an incredible and challenging climb.”
  • For more details, check out our Passo Pordoi ride guide (also here’s a GPX and Strava segment).

Passo Sella

  • Features as Maratona dles Dolomites climb number 3.
  • Andy from Sports Tours says “Passo Sella is a climb with stunning scenery. The Sella Massif walls surround you, creating a spectacular riding experience. As you climb higher, you are treated to an amazing view of the Marmolada Glacier. On the final hairpins you get your first glimpse of the magnificent Sassolungo group.”
  • For more details, check out our Passo Sella ride guide (also here’s a GPX and Strava segment).

Passo Gardena

  • Features as Maratona dles Dolomites climb number 4
  • Andy from Sports Tours says “This climb is drop-dead stunning. The switchbacks towards the top offer a breathtaking view. One one side, you’ve got the craggy, vertical peaks of the Sella. On the other side, you have the Cier range. When you reach the top of the pass from Corvara, you are greeted with a completely new view of the Sassolungo/Sasslong mountains. It’s a moment that makes even seasoned cyclists say “wow”!”
  • For more details, check out our Passo Gardena ride guide (also here’s a GPX and Strava segment).

Passo Giau

  • Features as Maratona dles Dolomites climb number 6 (Arabba/Selva di Cadore to Pocol)
  • Andy from Sports Tours says “The Passo Giau is known by some as the beauty and the beast. It is a tough and demanding test, but it is considered by many to be the most stunning mountain pass in the Dolomites. It stands at an impressive 2,236 metres above sea level. The Giau features a whopping 29 hairpin bends and offers a relentless challenge of around 9% over a distance of  10 kilometres.”
  • For more details, check out our Passo Giau ride guide (also here’s a GPX and Strava segment).

Passo Falzarego / Passo Valparola

  • Features as Maratona dles Dolomites climb number 7 (and last)
  • Andy from Sports Tours says “The Passo Valparola is the last climb of the Maratona dles Dolomites granfondo. It’s reached via the Passo Falzarego. This pass is strikingly beautiful, with its elevation reaching 2,192 metres. It starts from dense woodland and leads into a rocky landscape surrounded by towering mountains. The pass is also famous for its cycling history. People still talk about the epic battle on this pass between Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali during the 1946 Giro d’Italia.”
  • For more details, check out our Passo Falzarego ride guide (also here’s a GPX, Strava segment (Falzarego) and Strava segment (Valparola)).
Cyclists wearing medals having completed the maratona dles dolomites

Much happiness post completion of the Maratona!

How many people take part in the Maratona?

In the last edition in 2023 there were 8,000 riders from over 70 different nations.

Is there a Maratona cycling map and GPX routes?

Yes, all the details and maps of the routes can be found on the official website.

How does the Maratona course differ to the Sellaronda course?

It’s probably fair to say that the Maratona dles Dolomites 2024 route is for experienced cyclists used to endurance riding and climbing at altitude.

The Sellaronda route is more suited to someone who wants to take part in a challenging and prestigious event, but doesn’t fancy/hasn’t got the fitness for climbing eight mountain passes in one day.

For those in between the two categories then there is the middle course!

Is the Maratona a race?

The vast majority of participants enter the Maratona merely to test themselves both mentally and physically against the rigours course. However, it’s worth knowing that a small percentage of the field will actually be racing for the kudos of being that years’ champion.

Part 2: Entry and registration

How do you enter the Maratona dles Dolomites?

Entry is by the official website.

Spaces are very limited and there is huge demand – there are only 8,000 competitor spaces for 2024, and only 4,300 of those are going to ballot. The remaining 3,700 go to official tour operators (like us!), invitations, and other special categories.

Fidelity members are those who have completed at least 15 previous editions of the Maratona, and they can pre-register without going through the ballot process.

What’s included in the Maratona dles Dolomites entry fee?

Payment of the entry fee (150 euros for new 2024 entries) entitles participants to use the mechanical assistance and refreshments along the route, entry to the post-race pasta party, the official Maratona dles Dolomites jersey, a race number and free participation at all activities during the biker’s week. There’s also a 10 euro refundable deposit for the chip.

What is the cancellation policy for the Maratona dles Dolomites?

Read the official race conditions of entry carefully before you book.

Note the 2024 conditions of entry include a provision that “if the event has to be cancelled due to exceptional circumstances there is no refund of the entry fee but the organisation reserve the right to start in 2025 after completing the registration procedure as requested for coming edition”.

The terms go on to give examples of circumstances that would cause the cancellation of the event. It’s best you read the official conditions of entry document if you need the detail.

At the start of the Maratona

Early morning on Maratona Day!

Are there Maratona cycling packages?

Yes, the Maratona works with official tour operators such as Sports Tours and provides them with guaranteed race entry packages. There’s more detail on what Sports Tour’s package includes, below.

Do you need a medical certificate for Maratona dles Dolomites?

The organisers of the Maratona dles Dolomites require a medical certificate signed by your GP as part of the requirements for entry. There is a required format that is published on the official website.

How do you get to the Maratona course?

If you are arriving by train, the closest major railway station is in Bolzano, which is around 100 km from Alta Badia. From here you can take a regional train to Brunico which is 40 km away, and from Brunico, there is a daily bus connecting to Alta Badia.

If you are flying then the closest airports are Bolzano (100km away), Innsbruck (130km away), Treviso (180km away), and Venice (200km away). All of these airports provide a rail connection to Bolzano.

You can also hire a car in Bolzano and drive along the SS12 and SS242 to Alta Badia.

While there are closer airports, Andy from Sports Tours says “We find that most of our clients arrive to Venice Marco Polo Airport as this is the most connected airport in the region. We run a shuttle service from here.”

There’s more travel information here.

Where’s the best place to stay to do the Maratona?

Andy from Sports Tours says, “We think the Alta Badia area around Corvara is the best place to stay as it’s near the start and finish of the event. Additionally, if you wish to ride the popular Sellaronda route on another day you can do so easily from Corvara (in either direction).”

See our detailed guide to the Dolomites area.

We’d suggest you focus your accommodation search on villages like La Villa, Badia, Corvara and Colfosco.

What else do I need to think about before booking?

That’s kind of an open-ended question that will depend on your circumstances!

But we’d be checking things like FCO (your country’s equivalent) advice for travel, travel insurance, time-off work, flight/train availability and cost, accommodation availability and cost…

Part 3: The event

What time does the Maratona start?

The starting order is specified in the Conditions of Entry.

The first group, Group A, sets off at 6:30am on race day.

How long does it take to complete the Maratona?

It will depend on your ability, but a time limit is imposed for finishers which is 1pm for the short route and 4.45pm for the middle and long course routes.

There are also intermediate cut-offs which are specified in the Conditions of Entry as follows:

“Corvara direction Campolongo (55km) 11.30 a.m. (after 11.30 a.m. the participant will be obliged to pass the finish line)
Cernadoi direction Passo Giau (76km) 11.50 a.m. (after 11.50 a.m. the participant will be obliged to continue along the middle course towards Falzarego)”

These times apply regardless of your starting time.

What are the service points during the Maratona?

Refreshments (and mechanical and medical assistance) from the event are guaranteed until the following time:

  • Passo Sella 11.15 a.m.
  • Passo Campolongo Midday
  • Passo Gardena 12.15 p.m.
  • Colle S. Lucia 12.25pm
  • Passo Giau 2.15 p.m.
  • Passo Falzarego 4 p.m.
A Sports Tours food stop, laden with goodies

A Sports Tours feed station

Is there any mechanical assistance during the Maratona?

Mechanical assistance is guaranteed until the times listed above.

Is the Maratona a closed road sportive?

The FAQs on the official website states: “The roads will be closed to traffic (including cyclists) during most of the race. The closure timetable of the roads will be published as soon as the responsible authorities will confirm the times.”

The Conditions of Entry state “The Road closures are established by the various local prefectures and are guaranteed until the final race car marked as “fine corsa” has passed.”

Where can I find the Maratona dles Dolomites results?

All the results and placings for each year’s event can be found under the History tab on the official Maratona website.

Is it possible to get Maratona dles Dolomites photos?

The event photography is outsourced and in 2023 Sportograf provided this service.

A link on the official Maratona website links you to their site.

What are the rules of the event?

Here is the latest information regarding the 2024 event.

Here are the conditions of entry.

Is there much to do before/after the Maratona?

There is a ‘riders week’ ahead of the big event that we’ve heard good things about. Prior to that, there is the popular Sellaronda bike day which is a closed road cycling event that incorporates the passes of Gardena, Sella, Pordoi and Campolongo.

There are other planned ‘leisure’ rides in the area throughout the week including exhibitions and cycle related shows.

On the day before the Maratona there is a mini sportive for children and a musical festival at the Maratona village.

For 2024, the important dates are

  • 8th June 2024: Sellaronda Bike Day
  • 22nd June 2024: Dolomites Bike Day
  • 1st – 7th July 2024: Rider’s week
  • 6th July 2024: Maratona for kids by Sportful

If you visit, don’t miss our detailed guide to the Dolomites area which includes ride guides, information on where to stay, tips for cycling the area and more.

Part 4: Maratona Tours with Sports Tours International

What is included in a Sports Tour Package?

Andy from Sports Tours says “included in one of our Maratona travel packages with Sports Tours International, you’ll get:

  • A guaranteed entry into the event of your choice on the Sunday
  • 4 nights in a hotel or residence in Alta Badia, making it easy to get to the events
  • Breakfast and evening meals included
  • A race briefing with experienced reps to answer any questions
  • The services of Sports Tours reps, mechanics, and drivers throughout the event
  • Guided rides around the local villages on Friday and Saturday
  • Transfers from Venice Airport on the Thursday (early or late), and returning to the airport on Monday (again, early or late)
  • Secure bike storage at the hotel
  • Bike hire for the duration (on request and subject to availability)
  • An additional food and assistance stop on the route, exclusively for Sports Tours riders, including a range of snacks and drinks options (better than the official stops!)
  • Bag drop at the assistance stop, allowing you to take your own items, with bags then returned to your hotel.”

What do you get from Sports Tours that you don’t get from other operators?

Andy says, “there are a few good reasons for booking with Sports Tours compared to other operators.

Guaranteed entry

Sports Tours International is an official partner of the Maratona event, which guarantees you entry into the full Maratona or one of the shorter courses, depending on your preference.

Hotels

There’s also the fact that Sports Tours choose the hotels that are best positioned, so you are right at the heart of everything around the event. For example, you’re just 10 minutes from the event expo where you’ll go to collect your bibs and everything else you need for the race, and you’re close to the start and finish line – which you’ll appreciate once you complete the event!

Expertise

Then there’s the expertise. The Sports Tours reps that will be in your hotel know how the event works, know about the local area, and can make sure you have everything you need. Any questions you have, or nerves, can all be sorted out really easily.

When you buy a Maratona package and you’re assigned a hotel, you’ll be given a document which includes all the details you need, including your rep’s phone number, so you can easily get in touch with them at the hotel.

Additional stop

Don’t underestimate the value of the exclusive Sports Tours stop on the event route as well. While you’ll be able to use the official food and rest stops, Sports Tours make sure theirs is the envy of other riders.

You’ll get a better range of snacks and drinks, including gels, nuts, Coca-Cola, biscuits and more. You’ll also be able to have your bag dropped at the station, so you can bring your own foods or drinks if you need.

And as well as the mechanic support, there will also be chairs to help you relax or stretch off if you aren’t chasing a fast time.

We care

Finally, there’s just the care that Sports Tours shows its customers. You don’t need to worry about something going wrong.”

Andy shares a couple of anecdotes that bring this to life – “there was one customer who accidentally cut his brake line when he mistook it for a cable tie… While the bike stores are limited nearby, Sports Tours were able to get the customer to a store quickly to get the issue sorted.

And then another customer found out that their bike had been left behind on the runway at Heathrow. Sports Tours spoke to them, found out the make and type of bike that the cyclist rode, and by the time the customer made it to the hotel a suitable rental was already waiting for them.”

How do you find more info about Sports Tours Maratona packages?

You can find out more about the Sports Tours Maratona packages, including booking your place for 2024, by heading to the Sports Tours website.

If you need to ask any more questions, you can send them a message via their contact page.

Pasta party after the Maratona dles Dolomites

Pasta party post event

Part 5: Top tips for riding the Maratona

To finish off with, here are some important tips from Andy at Sports Tours to help you really make the most of this incredible event:

  • Wrap up warm for the start of the race. You’re going to be starting at 6.30am and the temperature at the mountain summits can be quite cool too. You can always leave your warmer layers in your bag at the Sports Tour food stop. Or, consider buying cheaper warm layers from a charity shop before you head out, and then discard them at any of the official stops – they’ll be donated back to charity that way.
  • Inner tubes and CO2 air cylinders are the most commonly forgotten items when people pack. While Sports Tours will always have spares, it’s best to remember to bring your own too if you can.
  • Because the event is on closed roads, you’ll struggle to get mechanical help if you’re 10km past a stop. So, make use of the mechanics while you can at the official stops or the Sports Tour stop. And know how to do your own basic mechanics yourself.
  • Save some energy for the finish. While it might appear flat compared to the climbs of the rest of the event, it is uphill, and it’s not a short road! Make sure you have some legs and mental strength left to finish strong!
  • It’s a tough event but it’s in the most incredible setting, so don’t forget to stop every now and then, look up, and actually soak up the views and the atmosphere. It can be easy to just have your head pointed at your handlebars throughout, so make sure to take it all in while you can.

Good luck!

Keep in touch and let us know how it goes!

We’d love to see your photos and hear your stories – comment below!

And, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out our ultimate guide to cycling in the Dolomites which includes guides to some of the best rides, plus info on where to stay and tips for riding this amazing part of Italy.

If you’re interested in other top European sportives, you might also like to check out our pick of the best here.

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Andy Mylrea

Andy is the Sales and Operations Manager at Sports Tours International. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and has travelled to 40+ countries, spanning six continents. Andy is a big cycling fan and can often be found with the team at the Maratona dlles Dolomites gran fondo.

John Vicars

John Vicars divides his time between England and Spain and, together with his wife, clocks in around 10,000 miles each year searching out Europe’s finest roads. John loves to share his experiences (good and bad) from the saddle and has a particular loathing for double digit gradients, sub-zero temperatures and red traffic lights!

Last Reviewed: 17 October 2023

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