Few races have soared to such a height in a short period, but the Sellaronda Hero is one such race. In a few short years, the epic mountain bike race based out of Selva Val Gardena has held the World Championships, attracted countless superstars, and built into a whole mountain bike festival.
With two routes that circumnavigate the Sella Group, mountain bikers can take on a journey like skiers can in winter, linking the towns of the Italian Dolomites by trails instead of ski slopes. Unlike many European marathon races, the percentage of singletrack is high, about 30%. You will often climb on steep forest roads, and descend on steep singletrack sliced into the grassy slopes or carved through the forests.
Racing the Sellaronda Hero
The race is tough and shouldn’t be underestimated. It has an exceptional amount of climbing, and with the race start and finish at over 1500m altitude, you will find the climbing difficult. But the location is magical, and the spirit of the town and the people there to race. Few towns embrace a marathon race like Selva Val Gardena, with decorations throughout the town, and recognition for the mountain bikers who are visiting.
The bike expo is fun, and the pasta party is good – but you should study the courses. The full distance race is 84km but has 4500m of climbing, just 500m short of the Grand Raid, but at 41km less. The 60km race has 3200m of climbing, a seriously compact route that cannot be judged by distance alone.
The Hero Festival
The event is just about the marathon race, with activities on from 15-18th June in 2017. From trail rides, bike test events, a fashion show, football shows, parties and of course kids events. There’s a lot on besides the main event in the mountains.
Registration opens on September 14th, so if you want to experience one of the biggest marathon races in Europe, get set to enter – it does sell out.