By Teemu Virtanen
Since its inception in 1971, Marcialonga in Italy has won the hearts and minds of countless cross-country ski lovers around the world, and the race has twice been awarded as the “Best Event of the Year” in Visma Ski Classics. It has now reached the legendary status that derives from its unique atmosphere and the course that runs through small historic villages that cast a magical spell on skiers and spectators alike.
The race starts in Moena, Val di Fassa, and finishes on the main street of Cavalese, Val di Fiemme, passing through 13 villages and thousands of cheering spectators. There is one sprint competition point in Predazzo and one climb competition point at the finish. The start time for the women is at 7:50 am CET and for the men at 8:00 am CET.
After Moena, the race reaches its highest point in Canazei, about 1,400 meters above sea level, and then turns back passing the start area. Then, the course goes by the ski jumps in Predazzo and continues through the town center before reaching the famous Nordic ski arena in Tesero, which serves as the scene for the annual Tour de Ski and has been the host location for three FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in 1991, 2003 and 2013. The lowest point of the race is in Molina, about 6 km before the finish, where the skiers have descended to an altitude of about 850 meters above sea level.
The final climb, Cascata Hill, is probably one of the most famous landmarks in the history of long distance skiing. The 2,5 km long uphill has a special Climb check point where the points are calculated according to the fastest time up the hill instead of the first skier reaching the top as in regular climb check points. The finish is really a unique sight to see with cheering people, variety of shops, trendy restaurants, idyllic cafés and an ambience that is second-to-none.
Marcialonga is fully booked every year attracting about 7,000 participants ranging from the age 18 to 86 in the 70 km main race, and about 2,000 of them are from Norway. There are many side events including youth races and a special parade of classic skiing where skiers use equipment dating back to 1976 or before. In the summer, there is a cycling race and a trail-running event making Marcialonga an engaging brand that has activities around the year.