The organisational dream of the champion Marco De Gasperi to bring on his home mountains a race with a strong appeal is called Livigno Skymarathon.
For some years now, the border peaks between Italy and Switzerland have become one of the “meccas” of the sky runners.
Breathtaking views, steep climbs, endless aerial ridges, snowfields, altitude, technical descents, single tracks to push are the winning mix of an event that is loved. And that’s not all: alongside the super-technical race, the Skytrail has taken root, giving completeness to the event by opening the doors to a much wider number of enthusiasts.
In view of the sixth edition, scheduled for Saturday 18 June, we interviewed the six-time world champion of mountain running who, at the peak of a unique career as a runner, has decided to switch to putting all his experience into the “Alta Valtellina Skyrunning Experience” project, which is giving him great satisfaction.
What made you choose a location like Livigno and after years continue to focus on it? What are its peculiarities?
“Livigno is one of the most famous locations in the Alps for the practice of outdoor sports and high altitude training, which in recent years has brought champions of all sports from all over the world to the town. It offers a completeness of services and comforts that you can hardly find elsewhere. But its real peculiarity is that of being able to find high altitude, real mountains and wild places, just a stone’s throw from “civilisation”. Places absolutely not accessible to the masses, where wildlife still finds its corner of tranquillity. These areas are also a paradise for skyrunners, who by nature run with respect for their surroundings. Here there are ridges straddling 3000m in altitude which are ideal for running over and experiencing that feeling of freedom that only a ‘sky runner’ can experience.
Let’s talk about the long race: a real test of “old style” skyrunning, but at the same time super modern…
“Livigno is a bit like that. It has not lost its traditions even though it is a town in step with the times. In a way, its sky race reflects this. It has the technicality of the races of the past, but at the end of a full immersion in nature it takes the athletes to the centre of the town, where shopping and aperitifs are a must. The idea that inspired me is the mix of post-race comfort with vertical climbs, sheer ridges at the bottom of the valley, aerial ridges over a kilometre long, channels of snow…in short, all the classic ingredients of pure skyrunning”.
Why should a skyrunner run it?
“For the reasons listed above, but also because we are at high altitude: the skyrunner lives his true passion beyond the limits of the plants, and here we are really beyond for at least 80% of the race”.
Livigno skymarathon, an event for everyone. Next to the bigs, a great show also for the beginners….
“Well, the Skymarathon has some peculiarities suitable for those who are already trained and have a wealth of experience for the altitude and the exposure of some really technical sections. This can be trained anyway! Maybe starting with the shorter Livigno Skytrail, which is fun and has some small “sky” sections suitable for everyone.
Let’s focus the attention on the Skytrail, born as a side event and grown in numbers and level…
“Very true, and for this reason now to call it a side event or satellite event of the Skymarathon would be limiting. We have deliberately called it with this composite name because it has technical parts of skyrunning and others which are much more runnable than real running in nature. It is shorter (only 17km) but no less beautiful for that. There are athletes who have run it before raising the bar and moving on to the long race and others who sign up to run it. How can you blame them? Independently of the distances, running in Livigno always gives great emotions”.