Competitors run in the footsteps of the saints in Vatican’s annual 10K race
Rome Newsroom, Nov 5, 2022 / 09:00 am
More than 2,400 contestants raced through Rome in the 14th annual All Saints’ Day 10K, the Corsa dei Santi (Race of the Saints), where competitors run the streets traversed by many saints over the centuries.
The athletes, professional and amateur, ran by the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, and other sites in the Eternal City in the Nov. 1 race.
Taking part in the race this year were Marcell Jacobs, an Italian 100-meter gold medal winner in the 2020 Olympics, and former long jump world champion Fiona May.
Also competing in the Corsa dei Santi was Elizabeth Mazza, a graduate student in theology at the Angelicum University. Encouraged by her friends to take part in the race, Mazza told CNA that she sees the Corsa dei Santi as more than just physical exercise.
“I was really struck with this as I ran: that we’re running to heaven. Timothy talks about the race to heaven, and the saints completed that,” Mazza said, referencing the letter writer of the New Testament.
“The saints lived that pathway to heaven, that race, bringing as many people as they could with them,” she said. “So, the significance of the race today for me was as a spiritual race to heaven.”
Mazza said it was her first official race. Training by running and walking through the streets of Rome, she gained inspiration from the saints who had walked the same streets. Like them, she relied on her friends and her faith to strengthen her through the physically demanding training.
In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul encourages Christians to model the actions of their faith after the training rituals of an athlete.
He wrote: “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we, an imperishable one.”
Mazza said the rigor of her physical training strengthened her faith as well.
“Running a race pushes us to do something that we are made to do,” Mazza said. “But it’s not necessarily easy. You know, God made us for health in mind, body, and soul. Running that physical race course reminds us of the physical excellency that God made us for. But it also pushes us toward spiritual excellency.”
“Running a race like this completely humbles you and makes you realize that you can’t finish it without God’s help,” she added. “And I think that’s the most fundamental thing. You’re just running. It’s just you and God, and only his grace sustains you to the end.”
All profits from the Corsa dei Santi go toward funding a new school complex in Tshikapa, Congo. The project, headed up by the Salesians, seeks to provide disadvantaged children in the area with a quality and stable education. Currently, the district has only a 48% literacy rate, according to the race’s website.
Pope Francis in his Nov. 1 Angelus welcomed and thanked the runners for their participation in the event.
“I am happy to welcome the participants in the Corsa dei Santi race, organized by the Don Bosco Missions Foundation, to live the commemoration of All Saints in a dimension of popular celebration,” he said. “Thank you for your beautiful initiative and for your presence!”
The Corsa dei Santi will return next year on the Solemnity of All Saints, giving Catholics the chance once again to run in the footsteps of the saints, both physically and spiritually.