Lavaredo Ultra Trail 26. - 28. June 2015
„Lavaredo Ultra Trail“ – three Magic words! Challenging words! Because they promise a maximum of alpine running pleasure! „Misurina Lake“, „Three Pinnacles“, „Val Travenanzes“, „Passo Falzarego“, „Cinque Torri“, „Passo Giau“, „Gusela“ or the tremendous cliff scenery of the „Croda da Lago“ are only some of the outstanding sections of this course, which is forging ahead the 2.000 m mark quite often. Speaking in figures, it is about 119 km and 5.850 m difference in altitude. Start is in the 1956 Winter Olympics location „Cortina d’Ampezzo“, in the middle of the Dolomite Alps. In the evening hours of July 26, 2015 I was dying for the start of this incredible race…
Kerstin and myself had providently planned our summer holiday so that “Lavaredo Ultra Trail” was the grand final after 2 weeks in the South Tyrolean mountains. A good decision, not only in view of acclimatization and a last training process in alpine terrain. More than 130 km in altitudes of above 1,000 m could be tackled previously. A tremendous difference to our home terrain being at 65 m!! The ascent of the “Similaun” (3.606 m) was a good practice with thin air. Well prepared, we travelled from “Alto Adige” into the province “Belluno”. „Cortina d’Ampezzo“ welcomed us with brilliant blue sky and a breathtaking Dolomite scenery. We explored city and surroundings, enjoyed the sun at the foot of “Cinque Torri”, the panorama of “Monte Rite”, Reinhold Messners museum “Dolomites” and, not only once, delicious icecream in the centre of Cortina.
Getting the starter documents it got serious! A stressful check of mandatory equipment by the organizers was followed by as ample studies of the weather forecasts. They predicted best and sunny running weather with sporadic showers on Saturday evening. So, long rain pants repacked in the suitcase as well as a warm shirt. The last 2 hours we spent in a coffeehouse near the start with several Cappuccini to banish tiredness. Finally, I had to be wide awake for the next 24 hours. My declared goal was to finish below that mark, being 6 hours below time Limit.
At 22h 30 we entered the starting block. 1.200 like-minded people from 56 countries in confined spaces, excited and strained all on edge, everybody with the same goal. A Babylonian symphony of languages. Then, Ennio Morricones “The Ecstasy of Gold” sounds above the heads – someone counts from 10 in Italian. Dieci – nove – otto – sette – sei – cinque – quattro – tre – due – uno – START, pure goosebumps feeling! A last “high five” with Kerstin and I start into the night.
Still it’s pitch dark! In the light of the headlamps we don’t really see the brute ascent to Lake Misurian –but we feel it! Then in the first morning light the sea and with it the marathon mark - 42 km. The skyline of the South walls of “Drei Zinnen”. Pathetically beautiful! The path is relentlessly wiggling uphill. If thighs could scream, I think mine would have. Next stop: “Auronzo hut”, at 2.333 m. It’s quite cold. I get some more provision from my dropbag . Inside the hut I take a warm soup, coke, bread and salt pills – all but a breakfast. Filling the hydration bag and here we go in direction of Paternsattel (2.457 m), but only after taking some pictures of the wonderful morning mood. Being 3 hours in advance of the cut off, I take my time.
From Paternsattel downhill again. At first on tricky trails, but then quite comfortably. In a magic morning light, the North walls of “Drei Zinnen” remain in sight for a long time. “Lago di Landro” is the end of the downswing. A less comfortable forest trail is leading to “Cimabanche”. I’ve made 66 km now, no need to think about Cut off. The warm sunshine stimulates – not a suggestion of fatigue!
After half a litre of Coke I start the next climb. A forest trail again, and it seems to be endless. At many backwaters on the wayside I dilute the Coke inside me and conserve the water stock in my backpack. At about 2.000 m I reach the highest point and the “Malga Ra Stua” is already at sight. 75 km, 2 plates of warm soup, again coke…. and the trail goes Downhill.
After 81 km the next climb begins at a height of 1.250 m and up to 2.300 m. Some children placed signs along the way, one is saying “Highway to Hell!” in red letters. The landscape is stunning beautiful! I should take a picture at the cascade “Rio Fanes”. The canyon is gorgeous! But I can’t pick me up to snap. Sweat is pouring. I take off the sodden cap to master exudation. A little later I became giddy – sunstroke!? Short rest at a creek dunking my head in the stone-cold water. After a few minutes rest I hold my cap into the water and get it back on my head. Soon I’m feeling better and I can enjoy the gigantic “Val Travenanzes”, even if the trail is very hard to run, at least for me. At “Forcella Col dei Bos” (2.331 m) 4 carabinieri are guarding the event. One of them has got a coke! I will be grateful for ever… Up and down, 300 m lower and then at km 95 “Rifugio Col Gallina”. At the moment I reach this food point, a thunderstorm breaks out. Horizontal rain, drop of temperature from 18°C to 8°C ---- sh…, rain pants and the warm shirt is in the suitcase! I don’t want to continue, due to the recent thunderbolts. So I can’t do nothing but pulling on all I have… and freeze. At 18h 30 the storm will be over, a German combatant announced after Internet research. Luckily it stopped earlier. 18h 08 I set off again. The mood of light is incredibly beautiful. Sunshine in the West and in the East some last thunders of the escaping storm.
Soon I reach „Rifugio Averau“ at 2.413 m. A big handicap is the muddy and slippery trail. “Mom will be very angry” I think, watching myself in the reflecting windows of the lodge. Along the West front of “Nuvolau” and “Gusela” it goes to “Passo Giau”. Food point – soup and coke, salt pills and a view over the valley till Cortina! But it’s still not downhill – not yet! “Forcella Col Piombin” (2.239 m) must be overcome before I can turn against the vale at the eastside of “Croda da Lago”. I put my headlamp on as night falls down again. As well some heavy rains go down! My shoes look like a mud pack as I reach “Rifugio Croda da Lago” (2.066 m). Still 9 km to go. A warm potato and again Coke. 9 km – shoud be possible in an hour!? But the trail disabused me. Soon it becomes a real mud groove. Painfully supported by my sticks or by means of branches and roots, I struggle downhill. By daylight, nobody would get the idea to walk along here. Endlessly later a forest trail – I reach it safely and without mud bath. A marshal tells me that it’s 4 km to go. I restart running. Not even 20 min later I reach the centre of Cortina! After 24:49:43 hours I succeeded. Lying in Kerstin’s arms I proudly pull on the finisher vest . Halleluja, what a ride!
I can’t even see Coke any more. Without detour towards the next bar and a huge beer is running nonstop and fizzy through my gorge.
12 hours later. We sit at the cascades of “Rio Fanes”. A 5 km walk – I couldn’t detain this beautiful landscape from Kerstin. It’s awesome. Now I take my photos. We cool our feet in the creek and feel more than satisfied. I wanted to run below 24 hours. It didn’t work out, but deducting the storm break, my world is o.k. I’ve been more than 5 hours below Cut off, ranked as 499th from 750 finishers (1.200 starters) and got 4 more points for my application to “Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc” 2016. Not bad for a plainsman Tyrolean, I think…
The winners in 2015:
Lavaredo Ultra Trail Women Caroline Chaverot (FRA) 13:40:34 hours
Men Dirdrik Hermansen (NoR) 12:34:29 hours
Cortina Trail Women Kim Spence (GBR) 05:42:33 hours
Men Davide Cheraz (ITA) 04:43:08 hours
Cortina Skyrace Women Monica Gaspari (ITA) 01:52:05 hours
Men Manuel Speranza (ITA) 01:41:33 hours
the report was translated by Martina Kommel