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Every year the Maratona gran fondo (that's the Italian for sportive!) gets bigger. For the 2017 Maratona there were a record 33,500 cyclists chasing just 9,000 places.
The intense competition for places is a reflection of the legendary nature of this ride, which is up there with the Marmotte in terms of toughness and as a test of the amateur rider's physical and mental strength.
Billed as a race on (mostly) closed roads, the Maratona starts and finishes in Corvara, best known as a winter ski resort. It is a 138km ride with 4,320 metres of climbing; there are two shorter routes but most people who make the trip all the way out to Italy want to ride the full route. The winner usually finishes in a little under 5 hours but plenty of riders take at least double that.
The Maratona route takes in seven major climbs:
Passo Campolongo (length: 5.8km, average gradient: 6.1%)
Passo Pordoi (length: 9.2km, average gradient: 6.9%)
Passo Sella (length: 5.5km, average gradient: 7.9%)
Passo Gardena (length: 5.8km, average gradient: 4.3%)
Passo Giau (length: 9.9km, average gradient: 9.3%)
Passo Valparola (length: 11.8km, average gradient: 6.7%)
Mür dl giat (the cat wall) (length: 300m, average gradient: 13.1%)
A Maratona Village is set up around the event in the town of San Leonardo with a fan zone, pasta and music, big screens, a shuttle service to nearby towns and of course concession stands from leading cycling brands including Pinarello, Campagnolo, Mavic and Selle Italia.
How to enter
Entry to the Maratona is by ballot due to the huge demand for places. The registration window for the 2019 Maratona will open on Thursday 18 October 2018 and close on 8 November; the pre-registration fee is two euros. The draw for places will take place in the second half of November with riders informed if they have been lucky enough to get a place from 1 December. Entry will cost 125 euros for successful riders. Sign up for the Sportive.com newsletter to receive alerts about when entries open and are about to close.
If you fail to get in through the lottery draw then you can buy a charity place. 388 charity places are available and will be sold in November 2018 and March 2019. You can also get a place through one of the tour operators who have guaranteed places on the Maratona - we recommend All Things Ride, a relatively new cycling tour operator who have rapidly gained a great reputation in the market.
Check out the following Maratona related content on Sportive.com: