Godspeed: Vatican's track team passes milestone with first race

Godspeed: Vatican track team runs first race

Rome – The Vatican is setting its sights on the Olympics after launching its own track and field team this month. The roughly 60 athletes include priests and those who work in the Vatican's museums and pharmacy.

In their first race Sunday, they joined about 8,000 runners outside Rome's Olympic stadium for Sunday's 10K, CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports. They posed in front of the starting line, as many teams would. But being Vatican athletics – and with their captain a monsignor – they also prayed.

Lacing up was a nun, with a member of the pope's army stretching.

Vatican Sport
Sister Marie Theo, third from left, sits among other athletes of the Athletica Vaticana Vatican sports team, as they attend a press conference, at the Vatican, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Andrew Medichini / AP

Thierry Roch, a Swiss guard, is one of the select young men from Switzerland who have sworn to protect the pope. They carry on a 500-year tradition, often standing perfectly still while on guard. 

"You are all of the time in the same place – you don't move," Roch said.

"So it's a relief to go running," Doane said.

"Yeah, exactly," he responded.

As Roch and some teammates demonstrated, the Vatican offers some rather spectacular training grounds. 

"For me, running is a form of prayer," said Sister Marie Theo from France. 

"The Swiss Guard said that you were the best on the team," Doane told her.

"No, it's not the truth," she responded with a laugh. "I am the best of nuns. The only nun."

This unlikely group blended right in with the thousands of runners. While there were no medals Sunday, for Vatican athletics, the race was a milestone.