July 5, 2024

La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB

Pete Wilmot reports
At 11pm on 28th June I started the 120km Lavaredo Ultra trail race. The main street of Cortina d’ Ampezzo, Italy was rammed packed with runners as it took me a good a couple of minutes to cross the start line. The atmosphere was electric with the town’s population out on the streets cheering the competitors on! This was followed by a Firework display as we began climbing our first mountain. For me it was quite possibly the most nervous I’ve ever been before a race but here I was finally getting on with it.
As many people will know I have been raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society (please see link below) and I possibly felt an additional pressure to get round what will prove to be the hardest race I’ve ever raced before. It was the furthest, it had the most ascent and it proved to be the most consistently technical terrain to run on.
The route starts and finishes in Cortina d’Ampezzo, which is a beautiful town in the Dolomites in northern Italy, on its way round the route takes in 6 mountain tops in the Dolomites. Cortina is set to host the Winter Olympics in 2026.
When I started the race, I had hoped that I would only have to run with a head torch for the first night with the hope I could make it back before darkness fell on the second night and during the first half of the race I thought I would achieve this. However I soon tired after this to the extent that I made a tired mistake to make this prospect even more likely, when I left my running poles at one of the later checkpoints and added on another a kilometre by making my way back to retrieve them 🤦🏻‍♂️. This coincided in a dip in my overall morale as the terrain around this area was particularly challenging, slowing my progress significantly.
At one of the last checkpoints at Passo Glau, I still thought I could make it back so I didn’t have to run too much in the dark but I soon realised that the course had saved the most technical and difficult section until last and this ensured I made slow progress. Therefore I resigned myself to getting the head torch back on. All in all I had to run with the head torch for another 3.5 hours as we had to clamber over various rock formations and tricky underfoot rocky and muddy sections. I was slowed down a little further by meeting up with a Polish runner who’s head torch had stopped working and he asked if I would run with him to help him, which I of course agreed to do. We eventually arrived back in Cortina at around 1.27am feeling very tired but buoyed with a remaining enthusiastic crowd present to clap and cheer us into the finish. I finished in 26.27 hours.
Overall the field had around 1600 Runners and around 25% (around 400) did not finish. The male and female winners did not have to get their head torch’s back out as they finished in 11.57 and 14.09 respectively.
What a race! Spectacular and brutal is what I will remember the most of my experience!
Finally I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who donated to the cause or shared my posts! So far we have raised over £2000 with gift aid included. Wow! Thank you!