Dolomites Trail Running
In recent years, multi-day running tours have become quite popular. The Dolomites are an ideal range to spend days cruising through the amazing landscape with nothing more than a small hydration pack filled with a map, food, warm top and money for the hut.
If long days in the mountains followed by comfortable nights in huts complete with great pasta, salad and beers sounds like it might be for you, then the Dolomites are the venue. If you don’t want to run day after day through the Dolomites, there are countless day loops possible. Once you see a map you will understand why, the area is literally a spider web of trail systems.
In 2006, we wrote and photographed a feature for the American Trail Runner Magazine called “La Dolce Vita”. Deciding on the name was obvious for this is undeniably the sweet life for the runner. In some ways this experience was the closing of the deal for our love of the area as it allowed us to finally do a real trip through the range on the Alta Via 1 Trail.
The long trails of the Dolomites are called the Alta Via’s – or high trails. These are the longer, multi-day tours where the hiker/runner stays in mountain huts or villages along the route. The actual trails have many variations, often including Via Ferrate as an option on several of the days. Each Alta Via may be made longer or shorter depending on the time available as there are always exit trails to main roads and transportation.
The Dolomites Running Experience
Are you lean, wear running clothes in public and have water bottles attached to your hands? Do people stare at you in your home country?
In the Dolomites, where it seems 80% of the population are athletes, no one will notice, and if they do they will likely ask what your day’s training/adventure/effort will include. These are passionate people for sport. Do not be offended or humiliated when you are dropped on a climb by what appears to be your grandfather in lycra. Just note the calves, for some reason they are always massive and look to be chiseled from the local stone, and in some ways they are – it comes with the terrain.
Typically less than 10km will pass between huts where you can refuel. Even if you don’t need refueling, we suggest doing it anyway.
Once on the move again you will begin to consider trying what you didn’t try at that hut, at the next. So, keep running. At some point, if doing a multi-day run, you will reach the hut you plan to stay the night in. Try to get their somewhat early so as to settle in, get your room, and take advantage of the deck and obligatory view. Reservations should be made in advance, the huts do fill up, especially in August where unless you made reservations well ahead of time, you will likely be out of luck.
Trails in the Dolomites are for the most part very user friendly. Elevation does not typically exceed 2200 meters (about 7500 feet), the passes are not overly huge and the trails themselves are well worn. Trails can be steep, much too steep to run, but time to look around at the view and not at your feet will be appreciated.
We have yet to find an area with poor trail running, rocky and steep… yes, poor, NO! Trails are everywhere, and if the singletrack is rocky and unpleasant, there is likely a dirt service road nearby. Maps are essential tools here. They are found almost everywhere as almost every visitor buys one or more. Look for the Kompass or Tabacco brands and stick to 1:25.000 or 1:50.000 for scale. You will be in awe at the sheer quantity of trails in the region.
The Lavaredo Ultra Trail Race
Rapidly becoming one of the largest and most important ultra races in Europe is the Lavaredo Ultra Trail Race. Like the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, this race has multiple options with 120km and 46km distances. Both courses wander the most spectacular areas of the Dolomites in ideal mountain running terrain. Incredibly, the long course takes runners right through the icon of the Dolomites, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo while the 46km course circumnavigates the Tofana Massif and then through what I feel is some of the best running terrain of the Dolomites, the Croda del Lago area. This has to be the most beautiful Ultra course in the world.
Running the Dolomites Alta Via 1 and 2
Since our Trail Runner feature came out there has been an ever increasing interest in the Dolomites as a running destination. So much so that our partners at Holimites are now offering several guided trips running both the Alta Via 1 and 2. These are guided and supported to provide runners with the experience of covering a lot of terrain in the best possible way, light and fast. Self guided trips are also available. Dates and more information may be found on their website at Holimites.com
For our full details on running the Alta Via 1, including gear, route and huts, visit our Alta Via 1 for Runners Page
PatitucciPhoto wrote and photographed a feature on running the Dolomite’s
Alta Via One. Published in the Nov. 07 Trail Runner
You can read the full article here
Dolomites Running Links & Photo Gallery