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“Life should be like running: moving light, without spoiling the world’s magic”

Marco Olmo



Marco Olmo started running at the age of 27, “when other people were quitting”, and is still running aged over 60, when other people’s children are quitting.

He’s a sixty-something who competes in “ultra-trail” runs with “ultra” results.

He’s tested his own limits in every corner of the globe by taking on mountains, deserts, beaches and volcanoes, and has no intention of giving up.

Every so often, though, it’s right to stop for a moment to take stock of what he’s done and what remains for him to do.


Question: You’re used to running at every altitude and latitude, you’ve run races in almost every corner of the world: in the Alps, Morocco, Iceland, Mexico….

Answer: Well, not quite every altitude, I’ve reached 4,160 metres on Toubkal in Morocco and that was the highest, otherwise races take place at 2,500 metres at most, for example the Tour du Mont Blanc gets up to 2,550 meters.


D: What are your favourite conditions?

R: For me the important thing is to not be cold, I’d never run a race at 10 below zero. I prefer the heat.


D: Even extreme heat?

R: Yes, even though extreme heat is stressful. Up to 38-40 degrees is one thing, then it gets to be like a hair dryer blowing in your face. For example running through Death Valley at 55 degrees wasn’t pleasant.


D: So what’s your favourite race?

R: It’s hard to say, a race can be a pleasure due to  the landscape, the route or the involvement of the public. The most beautiful desert I’ve ever seen was during the Desert Marathon, in the Acacus in Libya. The most beautiful route was the old Cro-Magnon, when it went from Limone to Cap d’Ail. They were smugglers’ paths, a beautiful route made up of very different landscapes. You pass the Alps, cross the Maquis shrubland and reach the sea. For public involvement the Mont Blanc Ultra-Trail is the best. When you get to Chamonix there are 30-40,000 people, it’s a popular race with a big following.


D: If you had to name just one?

R: It wouldn’t be fair to a lot of races. There are lots of great races, for example passing through Petra (archaeological site in Jordan, ed) while leading the Desert Cup is something you never forget. I’ve seen some incredible places, it’s difficult to compare them.


D: Without thinking about it, which is the best race?

R: I always think.


D: OK then, tell me what was the most extreme race you’ve ever done.

R: In 2007 they held a multi-stage race here, the Alp Marathon, about 170 km in 6 stages. It was really tough, every day we ran for 4-5 hours and in the end my quadriceps could no longer support me. I didn’t do very well but it was useful as training for the Mont Blanc Ultra-Trail, which I then won in late August.


D: Is there a race that you’ve never run but would like to?

R: There’s one they do in the White Desert in Egypt, but unfortunately Egypt isn’t very viable at the moment.


D: A race that you’ve never run but you will do is “On the Trails of Marco Olmo”, 7 June at Robilante.

R: Yes, definitely that one, it’s a race in my own town with my name on it.


D: How will you run it?

R: The distance isn’t ideal, the route is very fast so I won’t be able to run it to win. I’ve yet to decide whether to run it as fast as I can or to start slowly and arrive with the runners at the back so that everyone can run for a bit with Marco Olmo.


D: Why do you feel that it’s yours?

R: Because it’ll be run at Robilante, where I’ve lived all my life. I mapped out the route myself, on the roads where I train every day – on the trails of Marco Olmo!

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