I just received confirmation after receiving my medical clearance that I’ve passed the final step to entry to the Lavaredo Ultra Trail race.
It was a simple generic email from the race organizers but nonetheless it stoked excitement within me. You see I started racing ultra marathons four years ago and am in many ways still a bit of a newbie to this masochistic sport. That first year in 2014 I ran my first three 50k races. I was pumped with emotions after completing each one. They were not by ultra race standards overly tough courses, but they challenged this rookie immensely. Sometime between my racing SOB 50k and the McKenzie River 50k I read an article that Anton Krupicka had won the 2014 Lavaredo race in near course record time. Wait! What? I had never heard of this event. That race is in Italy! In the Dolomites! I read through the entire article and salivated over the photos.
This seemed awesome. I was not ready yet for a race like this with more than double the mileage of my first two ultras and over triple the elevation gain but nevertheless a seed was planted. My wife grew up in Rome Italy and I’ve had the opportunity to travel there several times. I enjoyed the country and it’s people immensely on those prior visits and it was time to go back. I thought what a great way to celebrate turning 50. We could go to Italy again, visit her family, dine on exquisite cuisine and in between I could squeeze in this race.
Life has a way of creating many twists and turns that we can never imagine are coming. My 50th came and went with no trip to that mountainous northwestern corner of Italy. However the seed which had since sprouted within me kept growing. I continued to race and train and with each passing year I gained valuable experience, fitness and knowledge to the point the dream of racing no longer seemed an impossible task. Now it was a question of simply when. My wife and I finally decided that it was time to go back no matter what else showed up down life’s path. It had been over a decade since she last visited her childhood home and despite having two children to bring along we would make this happen. So we put things into motion and began making all the necessary arrangements. I checked into gaining entry to the race and found out that one must run a qualifying race to get in. Their website stated “Athletes must also have completed at least one qualifying 4 point race as per the new ITRA classification (see art. 4).” My heart sunk. I learned races in Europe have their own point system and not all ultra races in the U.S. participate in this system. Did I run anything that would qualify me? Why didn’t I look into this much sooner? Would I even have time to run a qualifying race if my previous ones didn’t meet the criteria? I nervously began scanning their list of races which qualified in my region of the Pacific Northwest and low and behold there it was. The Gorge Waterfalls 100k. I had a rough time during that race and had my slowest finishing time to date for a 100k but it did qualify me. So now I was in! Err not so fast. There is a generous amount of racers allowed to run but the event did have a cap. There was going to be a lottery. Ugh. Fingers crossed I waited. Odds were better than getting into Western States 100 and I made it. One of 1500 racers out of nearly 3,000 lottery entrants.
Pouring over race details with some Italian wine and cheese.
It took four years of luck, planning and hope but what seemed just a fantasy is now reality. Far fetched dreams and goals are often great motivators to keep one pushing, training to not give up. All that’s left now is to keep training and get to the starting line as fit and healthy as possible. Piece of cake, right?! The journey continues.