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.”