The Lavaredo Ultra Trail Races consist of three trail races on a weekend at the end of June:
Lavaredo Ultra Trail: 119 KM with 5850 m ascents
Cortina Trail: 48 KM with 2650 m ascents (30 miles, approx. 9000 ft of climbing)
Cortina Skyrace: 20 KM with 1000 m ascents
I choose the Cortina Trail race which took me close to 10 hours to complete.
The Lavaredo and Cortina Trail races are very popular and sell out quickly. The start and finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo have a UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc) type atmosphere with many spectators cheering the runners arriving in the center of town. Elite trail runners like Rory Borsio and Mike Foote from the U.S. participated. Lizzy Hawker, the queen of the UTMB, from the U.K. had a strong comeback in a race dominated by European runners.
The beauty about this event is that it is only a two hours bus ride from Venice. There are direct flights from/to the U.S. So you can combine a visit to Venice with an exiting trail race in the breathtaking scenery of the Dolomites.
It is always recommendable, spending a few days of acclimatization at altitude before an alpine trail run. The Cortina Express Bus, leaving from Venice’s Marco Polo airport provides services to Cortina d’Ampezzo. Only 30-40 minutes by car from this former Olympic town is the Las Vegas Lodge located in S. Cassiano. Because the bus service between Cortina and San Cassiano is sporadic, it helps having a car (or taxi which costs Euro 40) to travel between these two villages. This hotel is located at an altitude of 2,011 m and is surrounded by a variety of runnable trails. It is built in a contemporary rustic style with large rooms, an excellent kitchen and a very enthusiastic owner and support staff. There is no better place to prepare for a race and recover from it later.
An excited crowd of runners in fashionable running gear and, of course, poles, is waiting for the start of the race. The hiking poles are a great tool for runners but some of them don’t know how to handle these sticks and poke them in your face.
I failed to bring my poles along for the race and deeply regretted it. Also be warned, it took me a few hours until I hit the first aid station. But, next to a small stream, there was a sign with an arrow “aqua”, pointing to it. I loved the refreshing, cold water and made it a habit to refill my bottles at these mountain streams. Race instructions advised to bring money for buying food at the “rifugios”. With two races going on at the same time, the aid stations seemed to be strained with little nutrition left at some of them. Buying a couple of power bars at the mountain restaurants kept my energy level up.
We received a “smart” bib with the race profile and cut0-off times on it:
This is a typical alpine race with some very technical terrain, relentless climbs and impressive views. For those who can’t get into the UTMB, the Lavaredo trail races are the perfect alternative.