I went to the UTLO – Ultra Trail del Lago d’Orta (http://www.ultratraillo.com) without big expectations and with the only aim of collecting points for UTMB. I had to admit the race positively surprised me.
Certainly, October is not the best time to run a Trail in northern Italy. Anyway, when I got up in the middle of the fog with a very thin rain coming down, I was really disappointed. I then opted for a long sleeves t-shirt to compete in the 34km race trail with 2.250mt D+. Meantime I was waking up, the 90k race was already on and the 57k race was about to start in half an hour.
The pre-race briefing was planned at 9.30 am in Omegna, where I got with ease from Domodossola, where I stayed at a friend’s place.
The starting grid was on lake-side, but just in less than 30sec time from the gunshot we were in line walking in a bloody steep tight street. In 4kms we climbed 500mt!
As always in this kind of competition, after 5k ascent, everybody starts taking his own place so who wants to just walk will not hind the others. The view from the hills over the Orta lake was amazing but unfortunately the fog and clouds were sometimes covering it. I often had to look at my feet in the mud instead. Fortunately, the organization was awesome and the path was perfectly marked.
The first aid and check station was at 14k, after the first downhill, and it was great. We found there any kind of food (mainly because 90 and 57k runners need more stuff then us) and my supporting team could reach the place by car to cheer up a bit. It was quite cold and the aid station was in the middle of a cloud without any view.
After a brief stop I attacked the highest hill of the race, rocketing up to a 1.630mt high peak. On the top I found an unofficial aid station with hot tea served by a kind lady. From there it was just pure fun. The good thing -not very common in races longer than 30k- was in the whole race there was one main big ascent and a long downhill to the end.
The last 1.500mt to the finish line were on a touristic pathway on the lake side. There was a lot of people cheering runners and I couldn’t refrain from sprinting to overtake some other competitors. I know it’s not fair to overtake sprinting in a trail but all the noise and my other “road-runner” soul took the control.
UTLO is not a famous race yet but I met a lot of foreigners, including people from Patagonia, Singapore, Denmark, Finland and, obviously, Germany. The race appears to be growing fast, but it has that sensation of a niche race that I personally like. At same time the organization quality level that can be compared to most famous events. I’m pretty sure I will be back to compete in longer course, hopefully without a DNF!