Two years ago, the day after I crossed the finish line at the Passatore 100km, I vowed to run another Ultra. I’ve been through the process of deciding the next race many times. However, the process of deciding which Ultra had been a little more complex. In fact, I wasn’t a super expert, having ran only one ultra before and so I had to carefully take into account many variables.
First of all, the timing. Training for a 100km requires several months. In my previous and unique experience, training lasted six months. I went out running four times per week, including some six hours long runs in the week end, cruising through any possible weather conditions. So, the race couldn’t be planned to soon.
In second place, the Race had to be manageable in terms of effort. For example, if you are a first timer in the Ultra world, you might consider to avoid extreme heat conditions or very high elevation gain. Kilometers are a sufficient challenge, and I wanted to remain humble.
Last but not least, I knew I would probably need support. If you live in Italy and you want to run a very cool Ultra in the US, it won’t be very easy (nor cheap) to have your friends at your side: I will embark for such an option once a little more experienced.
Since there are not one million 100km races (even though these events aren’t that rare anymore) and I had some requirements to follow, the search hadn’t been that easy. To make a long story short, I put in the basket two events, both in Italy, I am sure many people never heard of: the “100km di Asolo”, taking place in July in Asolo and the “100 Km delle Alpi” that takes place in October and starts from Torino to arrive in Saint Vincent.
Eventually, the “100km di Asolo” was the pick and I ran it Saturday 16th. While writing my legs are still hurting and emotion skyrockets.
After the finicky assessment I described, as happened many times in the past, I underestimated the race! My mistake was I didn’t study the route in detail. The website was very essential and probably not that clear. The infos were simple and straightforward: you had to run 100km; the starting point and the finish line were both in Asolo; somewhere in the middle you had to climb up to the peak of Mount Grappa at 1.784mt. One hour before the race my friends planned where to stop with the supporting RV, since it wasn’t possible to follow the whole race due to a landslide on the street.
The race start was planned for 2pm, in the July heat. Fortunately, the days before the race an unusually chilly wind cleared the sky and brought away humidity. Notwithstanding the heat and the sun, in the first 30km I experienced a very pleasant run with just one big hill to climb. I felt in brilliant form.
Suddenly, a car overtook me and a guy with a megaphone said: “If you feel pain now, be aware this is just the beginning. This is nothing compared to the rest of the race”. As announced, after the 30km mark the real deal materialized: a very, very (very) steep ascent between 27% and 32% (there were road sings telling that).
After 15km of ascent I almost decided to quit. I was the nearest possible to quitting, when I arrived at the Mount Grappa top (the picture on the side shows the moment), at the sacred and incredibly beautiful monument of the WWI. There was the halfway point, the 50km mark. I was in 21st position so I was destroyed but happy. I had some pasta in the RV and my friend Francesco jumped down to pace me through the next 25km descending the Mount Grappa. We ran during a beautiful sunset, in an uncontaminated environment. We met nobody for a couple of hours.
Once at km75 mark the darkness felled down and my quadriceps, paying the 25km descent, started screaming as hell. I felt drained. The RV were stopping every 3 to 5 kilometers to see how things were going and my crew tried to offer me something to eat or drink, but I only could try to envision small targets in order not to think to how far the end was. Some runners started to overtake me. The route wasn’t flat, but continuous ups and downs gave me no respite. I had no fuel anymore in the tank, but I knew I was near to the end, so I kept alternating fast-walking to running. Eventually, I got to the beautiful Asolo at km95 (of course Asolo is on the top of a hill!).
The finish line was in the Asolo district, but outside the city centre. Once in the centre of Asolo, the tiredness completely disappeared and I almost cried, solitarily, while running the last 5 kilometers. It was a good feeling, a sense of completeness. I was with my friends, doing the thing I love the most. No crowd. I made the last turn and I saw the church behind the finish line.
This race had been the most demanding thing I have done in my life. I recommend this race, for those who want to run a unique, wonderful, brutal and almost unknown race.