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Race previews Maratona di San Valentino

03 October 2022, 3pm

Evocative locations honour St Valentine

The green heart of Italy

Maratona di San Valentino
Sun 19 February 2023

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Each February Terni gives a warm welcome to visitors from all over the world. They come to visit St Valentine’s Church and to run by the 165m-high Marmore Waterfalls in a unique running experience.

St Valentine Marathon (42km, 21km and 5 km races) takes place on the occasion of the St Valentine’s Festival in February, when people celebrate the Patron Saint of Terni and of eternal love all around the world. Among the shows, exhibitions and concerts organised during the Festival. “Cioccolentino” is famous for its stands full of chocolate products in original shapes and flavours.

This year many tourists from all over the world visited the festival in Umbria, only 100km from Rome, and 20 nations were represented in the races.

A free hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus was organised to connect the hotels with the spectacular medieval villages of Narni, Arrone, Ferentillo, Montefranco and with the Marmore Waterfalls.

The Festival started on Saturday with the opening ceremony of the Marathon Expo at Repubblica Square in Terni. A little train brought runners and their families to St Valentine’s Church. The city was full of stands, historical medieval parades were performed and the pasta party took place with typical local food such as lasagne, local ham, parmesan and Carnival candies.

The race started from the city centre at 09.30 on Sunday. Two thousand runners passed through a huge heart-shaped arch. A kilometre later they ran past St Valentine’s church and could observe the medieval parade. Athletes then continued running along Valnerina, the valley known as the green heart of Umbria. At 10km runners passed by Marmore Waterfalls. In this unique location most of them forgot the clock and stopped to take unforgettable pictures of the falls.

According to legend a beautiful nymph, Nera, daughter of the God of the Appenino Mountains, fell in love with a young shepherd, Velino. But Juno discovered Nera’s illicit love and punished the nymph by transforming her into a river – the Nera River at Vettore Mountain. She flowed downstream like tears and reached the cliff where she had first met Velino. Velino, on discovering this, threw himself off the cliff in order to be united with his beloved Nera. That jump is today known as the Marmore Waterfalls, the symbol of eternal love all over the world.

At 15km runners pass through the spectacular medieval village of Arrone with houses made of stone, old portals, picturesque alleyways and ancient monuments.

At 22km the course passes through the village of Ferentillo, one of the most evocative locations along Valnerina valley where it enters a narrow gorge close to the village. Inside the crypt of Santo Stefano’s 15th-century Church there is a Mummy Museum open to the public.

After Ferentillo Village the gradient decreases and runners are able to speed up. The return journey again goes past the Marmore Waterfalls. This change to the course was very much appreciated and attracted a lot of positive comments from people promising to come back next year. Passing by the steel factory again runners then have the final 2km sprint to the finish line in Piazza della Repubblica.

A special feature of the St Valentine Marathon is that athletes can run in couples, man plus woman, as race partners. Runners very much liked the wonderful heart-shaped medals received at the finish line.

The race gift package was really appreciated too with a technical T-shirt, a bracelet, a home-made chocolate heart and a panpepato, a typical sweet from Terni.

We are waiting for you to run with us in the 12th edition of the marathon. Visit Umbria, the green heart of Italy, and run for love in the native land of Saint Valentine.

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