It’s once again time to head to the beautiful mountain town of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian Dolomites for the 2017 Lavaredo Ultra Trail. The 119-kilometre course threads through the spectacular Dolomites mountain range with incredible vistas, the highlight of which is the imposing Tre Cime di Lavaredo or ‘Three peaks of Lavaredo,’ all of which are around 3,000 metres tall. The runners will encounter a demanding 5,850 metres of ascent during their journey with a maximum time limit of 30 hours. The lead men will take just over 12 hours and the women somewhere around 14 hours.
The race starts at 11 p.m. CEST on Friday, June 23, which is 3 p.m. MDT on Friday in the U.S. We’ll provide live race-day coverage on our Twitter feed, so stay tuned.
2017 Lavaredo Ultra Trail Men’s Preview
Contenders for the Win
François D’haene is not racing due to a rib injury. [Updated June 19]
François D’haene is having an awesome 2017 and is probably the ‘man in form’ with his win at the recent Madeira Island Ultra-Trail in March. D’Haene, of France, followed that up with a win at the 110k MaXi-Race Annecy at the end of May, having earlier in the month taken second place at the Yading Ultra. In 2016 he won the Vibram Hong Kong 100k and claimed his third win at Diagonale des Fous. By my reckoning, Lavaredo should suit D’haene very well and play to his strengths. But there are a lot of fast guys out there…
It was in 2015 that Norwegian Didrik Hermansen burst onto the scene with his victory at Lavaredo with a then-course-record time of 12:34 (which was beaten last year by Andy Symonds). Since then Hermansen has had success at Western States, where he was second in 2016, but most noticeably at the 100k to 120k distance, winning the 2016 Transgrancanaria and taking third this year. In 2017 he was fourth at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k and first at the Eco Trail 80k in his hometown of Oslo. He will be looking to repeat his 2015 win so, watch out François!
Another big performer and someone who also made headlines at Lavaredo is Lithuanian Gediminas Grinius who came from nowhere–Gediminas had several years of national- and regional-level success prior to this, but it’s accurate in the context of international competition–to place third in 2014. He now has a deep list of results including wins at Transgrancanaria and Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji both in 2015, second-place finishes at UTMB and Lavaredo last year, and a fourth place at Western States in 2015. His recent 2017 results are a fourth at Madeira Island Ultra-Trail and fifth at the Tarawera Ultramarathon. I’m sure he will be looking to complete his set of third, second, and now first at Lavaredo?
Pau Capell is already having a phenomenal year on the back of an outstanding 2016. The young Catalan Capell will be running hard and strong with the leaders if not even taking it out from the start as is his want. He won the 2017 Trangrancanaria and came second at Madeira Island Ultra-Trail less than two months later. 2016 was a power year for Capell, capped by his wins at Ultra-Trail Australia in May and TDS in August. Earlier in 2016, he had top-five finishes at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k and Transgrancanaria, as well as a sixth place here at Lavaredo. On the back of his recent performances, he will be one to watch.
American Seth Swanson is back from injury. A twice second-place finisher at Western States in 2014 and 2015, Swanson has definitely got some speed. He has also got some good mountain legs as he placed fourth at the 2015 UTMB. His recent sixth place at the 2017 Vibram Hong Kong 100k demonstrates that he is back to par and over those injuries. Now can he rock and roll in the Dolomites and come out with a podium place or even the win?
Will it be the year for New Zealand’s Scott Hawker to make the podium at Lavaredo? He placed fourth in 2015 and fifth in 2016. At the Ultra-Trail Australia he finished second in 2015 and sixth last year. He is back from injury and surgery, and has been in Europe for several weeks acclimating. Hawker will work hard and stay in contact to hopefully grab that podium place.
Frenchmen Julien Chorier probably doesn’t need much of an introduction as he has raced at most of the prestigious 100-mile events and had numerous wins and podium places. Recent performances the last few years have not been as strong as several years back–his top result of the last year has been an eighth place at the 2016 UTMB–but one thing is for sure you should never rule Julien Chorier out of at least a podium place. I think the field is maybe too strong and deep, but we shall see.
Well, he is not included in the top Italian section because Italy’s Daniel Jung is currently buzzing and I expect him to place quite high at Lavaredo this year. His 2017 has so far been very promising with a second place at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k, fifth at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon, and sixth at the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail. Expect him to be pushing at the front.
- Giulio Ornati – Ninth 2016 UTMB, eighth 2017 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail
- Fulvio Dapit – Sixth 2016 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail
- Ivano Molin – 21st 2016 UTMB
Best of the Rest: More International Contenders
The USA’s Jorge Maravilla brings an interesting combo of leg speed along with the ability to excel in strength-based terrain like on the hills of his San Francisco Bay home. His top results of late were a fourth at the 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships and a second place at the 2017 UROC 100k. It’s been a while since Jorge’s raced as long as Lavaredo will go, but nine-plus hours on the UROC course in May should have helped re-acclimate him to longer ultramarathons.
Rachid El Morabity has decided not to race. [Updated June 19]
I’ll admit, I am in two minds about Rachid El Morabity (Morocco) and how he will perform at Lavaredo. In fact I’m super intrigued to see how this multi-stage desert specialist will do. He is a five-time winner of the iconic Marathon des Sables (2014 winner interview, 2015 winner interview) and has won other desert multi stagers such as the Oman Desert Marathon. The long stage of MDS is typically around 85k to 95k, so he has legs for longer, flatter ultras. Two things are for sure, he never gives up and he does have mountain legs having placed second at the shorter-distance OCC last year. He also regularly trains in the steep Atlas Mountains of his home country, so we’ll see if that transfers to the Dolomites.
Earlier this year, Sébastien Chaigneau (France) won the Transgrancanaria Advanced 83k, perhaps an indicator that he’s returning to form following a couple of tough years. We wait eagerly to see how he performs at Lavaredo. He suffered from overheating at Transgrancanaria a few years back but that should not trouble him much at Lavaredo given the 11 p.m. start time.
2015 was Fabien Antolinos’s (France) benchmark year, where he took 11th at the IAU Trail World Championships and then fifth at UTMB. His best results since then have been a fourth and then seventh at the 2016 and 2017 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail.
Sebastian Sanchez Saez (Spain) seems primed to do something big on an international stage soon. He had a great year in 2016, with results that included taking seventh at the Buff Epic Trail, which was the Skyrunning World Series championships in the Ultra division, as well as a seventh at Ultra Pirineu. So far this year, he’s finished 12th at Transgrancanaria.
More Men to Watch
- Takashi Doi (Japan) – 11th 2015 UTMB
- Anthony Gay (France) – Ninth 2016 Lavaredo, sixth 2017 Transgrancanaria
- Vlad Ixel (Australia) – Winner 2017 MSIG Sai Kung 50k
- David Jeker (Canada) – Winner 2015 Ultra Trail Harricana 125k
- Mikaël Pasero (France) – 12th 2016 Diagonale des Fous
- Sange Sherpa (Nepal) – 12th 2017 Vibram Hong Kong 100k
- Andrew Tuckey (Australia) – Ninth and 15th at the 2015 and 2016 Western States 100
- Vaidas Žlabys (Lithuania) – Second 2017 Transgrancanaria, 15th 2017 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail
2017 Lavaredo Ultra Trail Women’s Preview
Contenders for the Win
When I look at Caroline Chaverot’s 2016 results, it’s just a long list of wins at various distances and some course records to go with them as well! Look back to 2015, the year she launched onto the international scene, and Chaverot made the headlines at Lavaredo in smashing Rory Bosio’s course record by over an hour with 13:40 and placing 10th overall. Chaverot has since gone on to win the 2016 Transgrancanaria, the 2016 UTMB, the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships, and many more. By comparison, 2017 has been a quiet year for racing, but guess what, she got a win at the MaXi-Race Annecy a few weeks back! Chaverot’s approach is simple, run hard from the get go, stay with the lead men, and run her own race. I don’t see her doing anything different this year.
Fernanda Maciel has decided to race the shorter-distance race. [Updated June 19]
In the right circumstances, Brazilian Fernanda Maciel could win Lavaredo. Maciel is an outstanding runner with huge endurance and ability. She will be sure to make the podium as she excels at the races where pure grit and determination are required. She’s got serious accolades on her running resume, which include two Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji podiums in 2014 and 2015, fourth place at the 2014 UTMB, two third places at the 2015 and 2016 Marathon des Sables, and fifth place at the at the 2016 Buff Epic Trail, which was the Skyrunning World Series championships in the Ultra division. If Chaverot burns out, I’m sure Maciel will be waiting to pounce on the top spot.
Aliza Lapierre from the USA won the 68-mile Georgia Death Race in April. Lapierre won the Miwok 100k last year and also a couple of other races of a similar distance. Her UTMB performance last year was probably under par by comparison, as she finished 23rd. In 2015, Aliza and Fernanda Maciel tied for second at the Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji. I would guess that her recent win in Georgia will have boosted her confidence and she will be a strong contender for the podium.
Spain’s Emma Roca seems to love the tough courses. She placed second at Hardrock and third at Diagonale des Fous last year. You don’t get much tougher than those. Three weeks ago, she switched things up big time by racing on the roads at the Comrades Marathon, where she took 23rd.
New Zealand’s Ruth Croft is an exciting prospect at this year’s Lavaredo. She has had plenty of success at the 50k and 50-mile distances, including a fourth and third place at the 2015 and 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships and a third place at the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon. A month ago, she was seventh at the 2017 Zegama Marathon. Her 2015 win of the CCC in a blazing 12:54 course record shows she winning Lavaredo potential.
From France, Juliette Blanchet had a big 2016 of racing, which included fourth at the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail, a win of the Eiger Ultra Trail, fourth place at UTMB, and then second place at Diagonale des Fous. She was seventh at Transgrancanaria earlier this year.
Lisa Borzani – Eighth 2017 Transgrancanaria, third 2017 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail, Borzani has had a steady and sure build-up to Lavaredo, including finishing 24th at the Trail World Championships just two weeks before, and will no doubt make top 10.
- Cristiana Follador – Placed fourth at Lavaredo last year. She has had numerous wins over the last three years on Italian soil and is a crowd favourite with her huge smile. Will be looking to be top Italian woman again.
Best of the Rest: More International Contenders
The U.K.’s Jo Meek has all the talent in the world to podium at these international ultras. Jo had some great results in the last couple years, including seventh at the 2015 TNF EC 50 Mile Championships, second at the 2016 CCC, and seventh at the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships. Two weeks ago she took an off-the-mark-for-her 17th place at the 2017 Trail World Championships in Italy. Lavaredo’s trails are known for being a bit more runnable than elsewhere in Europe, so this could favor Jo’s leg speed and preference for less-technical terrain.
Ildikó Wermescher is registered for both the Western States 100 and Lavaredo Ultra Trail this weekend. It looks like she’s racing Western States. [Updated June 19]
Ildikó Wermescher’s (Hungary) results over the last few years show that she should not be underestimated at any long mountain ultramarathon. Her top 2016 results include fourth at the Eiger Ultra Trail and seventh at UTMB. Earlier this year, she was fifth at Transgrancanaria.
It’s probably safe to say that the heyday of Lizzy Hawker’s (U.K. but living in Nepal) running career has passed. For several years there, she was absolutely untouchable at virtually any kind of race she entered, from mountain ultramarathons, to road ultramarathons, and more. That said, anytime a healthy Lizzy shows up at a race now, I’d still say she’s top-five material. She was ninth at Lavaredo last year, and has been running at the front of local Nepal races in the last year.
When France’s Maud Gobert brings it, she brings it. Way back in 2011, she was the IAU Trail World Champion. In recent years, her top international performances have been a seventh and 14th at the 2015 and 2016 IAU Trail World Championships, and a fourth place at the 2016 Buff Epic Trail, which was the Skyrunning World Series championships in the Ultra division.
More Women to Watch
- Yulia Baykova (Russia but lives in Italy) – 10th 2016 Lavaredo, sixth 2016 CCC
- Ligia Madrigal (Costa Rica) – Fifth 2017 The Coastal Challenge
- Sarah Willis (USA but lives in Switzerland) – Fifth 2016 Mont Blanc 80k
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Who is going to win the men’s and women’s races at the 2017 Lavaredo Ultra Trail?
- Who will surprise with punching-above-their-weight performances? Who is super fit and prepared?
- Is there anyone on this list who you know isn’t racing? Leave a comment to let us know and we’ll update this article.