3 in 30, the 2nd: Lavaredo Ultra Trail

The unexpected happens, plans change – and it’s all good at home in the world as it is.

Three weeks after the 2-day/stage Ötscher-Ultra, we – three runner friends and I – made our way to Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites, Italy, for the The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2013.

It was to be the longest and most adventurous pre-summer race (not counting Istria), with 118 km distance, 5500 m of altitude gain, and a 11 pm start… but it was not to be like that.

Dolomite Landscape

Quite a place to run…

The snow that had been coming and going had decided to settle in at the higher altitudes, the nights had temperatures below freezing, and the race organizers decided to go with the alternative route at lower elevations.

85 km and 3500 m altitude change it would be, with a start not at 11 at night, but at 8 in the morning.

Strange to rationally think about it, but there’s a need to play it safe even for the crazies disappointed to cover only two marathon distances plus the elevation change to climb a nice mountain, during the daytime, rather than three marathons plus even higher a mountain, and a part of all that at night…

Then again, this just made for a more obvious goal of beating the sunset – quick check of the Ambit2 with the sun times app before the start: some 13 hours to go -, a better chance of seeing the landscape, and a race that wouldn’t be quite as exhausting as it would otherwise have been. And it got to be like that, more comfortable in how hard it was, beautiful even as it was painful.

Words don’t describe it nearly as well as pictures, though, so, check out the photos on the map, or the video below:

View Lavaredo Ultra Trail in a larger map



Interesting points:

Listen to your bodily self; find the strategy that works for you.

People get very caught up in races being races, even as just about everyone will start walking (at least uphill) soon enough. For the beginning, I have to count myself among everyone, and my average heart rate reflected it. It was, simply said, very high. It’s often there, and I’ve had myself checked often enough to feel confident that’s just how it is, but it was not good anyways.

Overdoing can come easily enough, too. To get through this exaggerated effort without outsize consequences, I ended up walking a lot. To the point where the male part of a German couple I once again traded places with at around kilometer 70 asked me if I was always just hiking – and why I was so darn fast. Well, because. That was the last they saw of me, because we were back on downhills, technical trails, and comfortable forest trails, which I enjoy running, and down to the last 15 km, which was when I picked up the pace again.

It helps to know your strengths, work at them, and use them well.


Know what you are able to do and want to do.

These runs/races are particularly good examples and test beds for the power of mind and body working together – if you get yourself into a state where you work like that.

The body may hurt, but the mind knows the strength that remains.
The mind may go blank and all that remains is the motion that continues.
‘You go on, and even enjoy.

That only works, however, when the strategy is sound and doesn’t end at overexhaustion, and when the mind is quieted and not chattering away with doubts and disappointments.

For me, it went well. Everything worked out, the impressions were beautiful, I finished in a time I’m happy with, and – most importantly – I didn’t feel worse than after a shorter intense training session afterwards. One of my friends, a strong runner, quit because he just didn’t feel like it. Another ran well as usual. The third might have finished in the same time if he hadn’t had his doubts and spent most of the difference between our times resting at aid stations.

An American who had gotten on my nerves because he passed me, and many others, on the first downhill, directing everyone out of his way, was another person with whom I repeatedly traded places with. Ascents, I walked past him. Downhills, he overtook me. A later ascent, I passed him again, and he said he was broken – and that was before the last climb started to really go up…

The right strategy, the right knowledge of oneself, the fortitude to pay heed. Lots to learn.
At the end, though, it all comes down to this:

Lose yourself in the movement, find yourself in the motion.

Traunsee Bergmarathon, 3rd of the 3 in 30 (ultramarathons, days), here I come. At 70km and 4500m altitude, it’s shorter but has more elevation than Lavaredo now ended up having. Let’s see how that goes, in its 25th edition and my 3rd participation.


Gear Check

Fascinating drop bag… Louis Vuitton…


  • Inov8 455 w| gaiters
  • Smartwool toe socks, one of which now has more hole than material at the forefoot
  • CW-X Revolution tights and Insulator top
  • UD Adventure Vest
  • Sony RX100 (in Pelican Microcase by now permanently attached to left shoulder strap)
  • and the obligatory gear


  • 2 ClifBars (which got half eaten)
  • 1 CytoMax energy chews
  • 1 ClifShot Bloks Margarita
  • 2 ClifShot gels
  • 1 GU gel
  • Some cake, bread w| salami, soup, and quite a bit of water from the aid stations. And streams, which had much better water than the tap.

Fascinating aid station supplies they had here. The usual banana pieces but otherwise only lemon slices for fruit, but two kinds of cake and quite a cheese spread…

The data on Suunto’s Movescount platform is here. It’s a “multisport” move because I found the battery to be down to 74% after only 3 hours and then decided to switch to the mode with 60sec (rather than 1 sec) GPS fix which I’d set up for this run, but for the whole course as it was originally planned.

As always, you can…

Follow my Moves at

Comments are appreciated; get in touch if you want to run in the Alps, make yourself more at home, learn to be #ecohappy or appreciate the spices of life

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  1. Heather Druktenis

    That was thrilling. The video along the way is so very fascinating to watch. I am amused to read your restrained but nonetheless THERE competitiveness. Probably because I am just like you. Also, so interesting to hear the rain-like patterns of the footsteps of the racers and also to hear your voice. Very well done G. I am looking forward to more.

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