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Sharing the love of the mountains

It’s the day after the Dolomiti Extreme Trail 55k. My legs feel okay-ish. Good enough to climb down the stairs of our apartment above the Tana de l’Ors and make my way to the river. In fifteen minutes the kids’ race will start. They will run a little obstacle race and Sara and I don’t want to miss that.

Today is a full day anyway. Half an hour ago the 11 kilometers and the 22 kilometers trail runs started. They will share the same finish line with the kids that are now coming our way. The oldest first, the smallest on the hand of their parents. Some even on the neck. It’s beautiful to see how the little ones are brought up with the love for trail running.

Best atmosphere ever

That love is everywhere. This is by far the most beautiful event Sara and I have been to. Sure, we have been to events that are in name bigger, like the Ultra Trail Snowdonia. But that’s simply because that race is a UTMB World Series Event, where you can score Running Stones to qualify for the final. It was great, but nothing compared to this race in terms of atmosphere.

Snowdonia was an event on its own, with the start just outside of the village. In Llanberis (Wales) nothing reminded you of the race. Forno di Zoldo is the Dolomiti Extreme Trail. The whole village is participating as volunteers. The central square has become the finish location, complete with a podium to honor the winners. The restaurants serve special race menus, shops are filled with merchandise and everybody that isn’t helping out, is cheering at the finish.

Love of the mountains

You can feel the love of the mountains all around you, and this Dolomiti Extreme Trail has become the way to celebrate and share that love. It already started Thursday evening, when everybody was invited to the 10th anniversary celebration of the race and treated to Prosecco, pizza and live music and it continued on Friday evening with the best start of a race ever.

Most races are only fun for the runners. There isn’t a lot to do for the supporters. That’s not a problem if a race takes an hour, but it is when the race takes hours and hours. In my case almost 13. Some races have a little market with some running gear and/or local products. Most don’t have anything. So what do you do, while waiting?

Friday evening the Funkasin Street Band started to play, and the beer started to flow. At 10 pm the band marched from the finish to the start line, a few hundred meters further on. Everybody followed and lined up on the side of the track, to see the trail runners of the 103 kilometers off. Two hours later the 77 kilometer race got the same great send off.

Heroes

Where they came from, I don’t know, but on Saturday at 4.30 am there were quite some people cheering for us at the start of our 55 kilometers race. When we finished, more than 12 hours later, it was packed again. If the rain hadn’t come down, there would have been another band starting the party. But despite the rain, it stayed crowded and even the runners finishing late in the evening were hailed as heroes.

And now the whole village is here again; embracing this race as only small communities can. They are here, to cheer for their kids, to cheer for the runners of the 11 and the 22 kilometers race, to cheer for the winners of yesterday and to be together, among the mountains they love. It feels great to be a part of that.

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