America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

Italy’s flagship trail race for many years and now an UTMB event, Lavaredo Ultra Trail is held in one of the most breathtaking places in the Alps. This event is so high on my bucket list that it’s almost more important to race than UTMB itself. A few years ago I had an entry but couldn’t make the travel work and I had to let go. This year I had my name in the lottery but didn’t get drawn. Lucky for me the Lavardo lottery is such that if you didn’t get drawn one year you get an automatic entry the following year. Kinda exciting – we shall see if I’ll be able to make the trip work this time.

Lavaredo as a race has huge potential to stand alongside of UTMB as one of the premiere races in the world – the number of runners are almost rivaling UTMB itself – and in many ways it does live up to that already, but one of the biggest challenges Lavardo has had right from the onset is that it’s happening on the same weekend as Western States. No race with big ambitions would dare to put themselves on the same weekend as UTMB, but Lavaredo disappears under the outsized media coverage of Western States. Yes, WS deserves all the hype, but looking at the field of elites toeing the line at Lavaredo it’s very much comparable to that at Western States. It just has the American runners missing as they are all in Olympic Valley, California. Of course there’s a probably a fairly reasonable explanation of why the founders of Lavaredo chose that weekend and in the end it is what it is but when it comes to American media coverage they will always have to deal with this competition.

In Europe though the race serves as a perfect tune up event leading up to UTMB and many of the elites planning on toeing the line in Chamonix later this summer are stretching their legs on the 120K around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo above Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Cortina by the way hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and will do so in 2026 in partnership with Milano. The James Bond film ‘For Your Eyes Only’ was filmed in part in Cortina.

Lavaredo’s flagship event, the 120K race has a start time of 11pm. Evening start times are not unheard of for races in the Alps, but this time is extra special and kind of weird. I believe the idea is to get the bulk of the runners to the famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo at around sunrise. Which is a spectacular site to behold and kind of makes the challenge start worth it.

Lavaredo isn’t live-streamed and aside from the usual live tracking on the UTMB site and the updates on social media doesn’t have a big global media presence which is a bummer given the stacked field in the 120K and the importance for many athletes as a tune up race for UTMB itself. If you want to know what European competition will toe the line at UTMB later in the summer, better follow that race.

La Sportiva has its home near Cortina and has been the title sponsor of Lavardo for the last few years. This creates the fun and fascinating situation where Hoka as a title sponsor of the UTMB World Series does not have a presence at this particular event and instead you see the La Sportiva banners everywhere. There’s another reason of why I want to run this race more than any other. This partnership also brings all the La Sportiva athletes to town. Anton Krupicka is usually there (I couldn’t confirm this as Anton’s Instagram is … deleted? Or at least it didn’t load for me as of this writing. Maria Dalzot is racing the 120K. John Kelly is also in Cortina fulfilling his sponsor duties and sort of being forced to jump over his own shadow:

So why am I here? Traveling a great distance (something I’m trying to minimize), and at a by UTMB / Ironman event (something I’ve voiced my concerns about for years). First, to be clear, I’m not racing here.

I’m a firm believer that it’s extremely difficult to influence a conversation without being a part of it. Yelling from the outside usually achieves the opposite of the desired effect. We’re all on the same team, even if we sometimes have different ideas.

I love events like Lavaredo, and UTMB for that matter. They’re exciting, mean so much to so many, and motivate people to achieve amazing things.

I leave off the part where he alludes to the idea that UTMB is a monopoly, which it is not.

Alright with that, here’s the link to the live-tracking. The 120k race is on its way. The 80K is about to kick off and the 50K, 20K, 10K have already concluded.