Thursday, June 28, 2012

Journeys: Italy and the Ultra Trail Lavaredo

A week after The North Face 100km I packed my bags again for overseas. I first travelled to the Czech Republic to catch up with friends and enjoy some running in the Krkonose Mountains. Being in Europe right now has some advantages - summer weather, lots of walking trails around for running and training, and the opportunity to race in some dream events. Being in the Czech has also meant drinking beer instead of water, succumbing to some amazing (but healthy) cakes, and trying to find a vegetarian meal amongst the goulash.

View down one of the ski hills into the town of Harrachov (gateway into the Krkonose Mountains):

On Wednesday evening I traveled from Prague to Venice, and then onward to Cortina by bus. Being here is incredible. Seeing the white, jagged peaks of the Dolomites is eerie, like seeing a dream materialise in front of you. I feel so uplifted. The town of Cortina is relaxed, and doesn't quite have the glamour and snow-sex-appeal that Chamonix had. I am just happy to be camped out in a little tent, to have these giants around me, and to look forward to running with a crowd of like-minded people tomorrow night in the Ultra Trail Lavaredo. 

The race is very much about self-sufficiency in a mountainous, alpine environment. The mandatory gear list is minimal, a "you choose what you think you might need" attitude which I like. The aid stations are spaced about +/-15km apart, and sometimes supply only water, meaning that nutrition planning is essential. I will be relying on the aid stations for the most part, as I have no support crew and don't want to carry the weight of food for the whole race (there is one drop-bag location at 48km). I am planning to run conservatively at the beginning, using my Suunto Ambit to monitor my HR (I have a specific threshold I will by trying to stay under). It has been a while since I have been running in BIG mountain country, and can't wait for the sunrise on Saturday morning and to be amongst it all.

My little tent, mountains peaking out just behind:

The glacial blue waters of the Torrente Boite, the peaks of the Fiames in the distance:

Trail marker for tomorrow's race:

The town of Cortina, behind the Fiames:

The starting line for the 2012 Ultra Trail Lavaredo:

Cortina town centre:

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