TRAIL RUNNING ITALY: OROBIE ULTRA TRAIL IN BERGAMO, RACE REPORT BY ABEL DE FRUTOS
This weekend Trailrunningspain.com and carrerasdemontana.com have been flying to Italy, we have enjoyed two very different races, the MaxiRace Sicily – Etna Trail and the Orobie Ultra Trail in Bergamo, two very different races for different people. The Orobie Ultra Trail had three races, GTO (70km and 4200D+), MTO (42k and 4300D+) and BUT (20k and 700D+)
Let’s begin with the official video which will show us the beautiful landscapes we have enjoyed this weekend.
OROBIE ULTRA TRAIL 2019: Three races for different people
BÉRGAMO: A city in the alpine Lombardy region of northern Italy, approximately 40 km northeast of Milan, and approximately 30 km from Switzerland, the alpine lakes Como and Iseo, and 70 km from Garda and Maggiore. The Bergamo Alps (Alpi Orobie) begin immediately north of the city, it is the birthplace of Donizetti, one of the world’s five greatest opera composers, a city where you can trace the life of this XIX Century musician starting from his native house in Upper Bergamo, admiring his mementos at the Museo Donizettiano, at his grave in the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica and at the city theatre, which was named after him: every season Donizetti’s greatest successes are performed and praised right here.
The city of Bergamo is composed of an old walled core, known as Città Alta, nestled within a system of hills constituting a regional park, and the modern expansion in the plains below. The upper town is encircled by massive Venetian defensive systems that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 9 July 2017 and surrounded by the Orobie Alps where our race takes in.
RACES: Orobie Ultra trail will held this year three races, GTO (70km), MTO (42km) and BUT (20km), and also has a bi-annual race, the OUT of 140km and 9500D+ which wilb held in 2020.
GTO (70km 4200D+): Departing from Carona, Val Brembana (BG) and arriving in Bergamo – Città Alta the race has a time limit of 24 hours, with a maximum number of 1500 participants. It gives 3 ITRA points for UTMB qualification.
MTO (42k 2300D+): Departing from San Pellegrino Terme, Val Brembana (BG) and arriving in Bergamo – Città Alta with a time limit of 12 hours and a maximum number of participants of 500. The MTO gives 2 ITRA points.
BUT (20km 700D+): Departing from Bergamo, (BG) and arriving in Bergamo Città Alta with a time limit of 4 hours and a maximum number of participants of 1000. A ideal race for starters and family or friends which come with ultra trailers.
OROBIE ULTRA TRAIL 2019: RACE REPORT, FROM ABEL DE FRUTOS
When I heard about the Orobie Ultra Trail I was not sure about it, I did not know anything about the city (more than it was the low cost airport of Milan) but I also heard the “Orobie Alps”, so it could not be bad at all. So I could not say “NO”.
It was a tough week for me, just the Friday before I got a call from my company asking me to travel to Seattle on Monday for a business trip, meaning that I had to travel from Madrid to Seattle (about 8000kms and 16 hours of flight) on Monday and arriving at Bergamo on Friday at 9pm after the flight back, 16000kms and more than 30 hours of flights, planes and jetlag which was not the best for a 70km race. However, we got breaking news on Wednesday, due the bad weather conditions (thunderstorms planned for the weekend) the organization (with a very good criteria) reduced the 70km race to 42km, starting the race at Passo de Zambla to safeguard the runners and volunteers from the bad weather conditions, a very good choice as just a couple of hours after we finish the race, a big storm felt down on the city of Bergamo. With that reduction I felt quite good, 70km could be hard for me to achieve after the trip, but I was quite confident that I would made the 42km with not too much problems.
Arriving at Bergamo at 9pm, reaching the city is very easy, you just need to take a bus with a cost of 1.50 euros which leave you at the city center in less than 20 minutes, I checked in in the hotel, leave my stuff in the room and just went for a pizza, carbohydrates dinner in the Pizza country. At 4am the alarm sounds! I did not have time to prepare my stuff the day after, so I quickly go down for a quick breakfast and prepare everything for the race, even though the race has been reduced to 42km we have to prepare all the obligatory stuff the organization request.
The material I chose this time:
- Raidlight Responsive 12L bagpack
- New Balance Summit KOM shoes
- Ternua Adrenalite Lite T-shirt
- SAXX pilot 2in1
- Weis endure belt
- Weis ztrail kseries poles
- Nike socks
- Raidligth TOP EXTREME jacket
- Petzl NAO+ headlamp
Let’s go then now for the race. The organization offers a bus to go the start line, the race started at 7am, so we had to take the bus at 5am in Bergamo, after 1h15 we arrive to Passo di Zambla, the atmosphere there is great, the views are great and we see the sun rising as we arrive there.
There are about 1500 runners, despite the people that could have given up due the course change. We are in Italy, so knowing that Italians like to compete a lot, we decide to start at the front line, since we have about 4 kilometers of plain terrain before we start climbing and as expected after the initial shot, people starts racing at max!!! This makes us to go the first 4 kilometers at about 5′ per km pace which I am not pretty sure it will be the best due my legs conditions.
The first climb is the hardest part of the race, we gain 600m in about 5kms, it is a wonderful climb and fortunately it is at the very beginning fo the new course (previous kilometer 30) so we climb up fresh and quick, I like the terrain, as it seems it will be a technical race, just a change on the latest races I have run (Annecy, Patagonia, etc) so I expect to enjoy the race a lot. And as I figured out, the race is an up and down race with technical terrain that I love.
The kilometers go and surprising I fell my legs in a very good condition, about 12 kms have passed now and I feel very well, so I decide to push a bit, I was very cautious at the beginning of the race, but considering that it will be just 42 kilometers I decide to increase my pace, I am enjoying the landscapes, the terrain and the race, so that is all I need.
Arriving at Selvino (half of the race) we find a very good refreshment point, this is one of the best of this race, they are having many refreshment points during the course (one about 5kms) which is great due the weather conditions, hot and humidity. I am sweating a lot, so when I arrive to the 22km, I just drink as much as possible (water and coke), but what the hell!! they do have “birra” in this refreshment point!!! I love it!!!
After Selvino, we do have a 400m climbing up over asphalt, the sun is heating and I just slow down my pace to reserve my energies, it is half of the course left and I do not want to collapse too early, the course is going down essentially but with lots of up&down hills. Everything goes quite fine still, but the clock is reaching midday and the heat is increasing.
Five kilometers before the end, my muscles starts falling down, I start feeling the flight hours, the last part of the course are about 3-4 kms of climbing to the Città Alta of Bergamo over an asphalt road and checking my legs condition I decide to slow pace and climb easily as just in one month UTMB is there and I do want to continue training the rest of the week. Arriving to the Città Alta of Bergamo is nice, not too much people on the course except for the last 800 meters where a crowd of people is waiting for the runners on a wonderful finish.
And after 7h13 I fininish my race in 481 position of about 900 finishers. A really beautiful course on a great city and mountains, which I would recommend anyone, we’ll see if we can come back and run the 70km that we could not made this time.
General standings GTO:
1. Stefano Rino Rinaldi – 03h55
2. Rota Donatello – 04h02
3. Matteo Longhi – 04h06
1. Rpssi Maria Eugenia – 04h56
2. Virginia Oliveri – 04h59
3. Federica Giudici – 05h17
OROBIE ULTRA TRAIL 2019: PHOTO GALLERY BY Abel de Frutos and Mayayo