The North Face employee Keith Byrne fist ran the Lavaredo Ultra Trail in 2008 and he was instantly taken with its charm, charisma and energy. We caught up with him to find out a little more about his 120km, 5,800m+ race through one of the most beautiful mountain lanscapes in the world.
Keith’s enthusiasm for the race is infectious. “Simone and Cris are working so hard, planning everything all year, then it all has to come together for this one perfect moment, just like organising a wedding.. but every year!”
Lavaredo started with very humble beginnings but something magical was created and nurtured by Simone and Cris. When Keith first ran it in 2008, he was warned by Topher Gaylord, the then President of The North Face, that this will be the hardest 60km he will ever run. Remote, hot, dry and technical, the race did not disappoint. But through those difficult and challenging kilometres, Keith fell in love. Not just with the race but the landscape, the region and the people.
His respect and commitment to the organisers is not unique, however. It is something that is seen in everyone who is involved with the race. From any of the more than 500 volunteers who tirelessly cheer on and support the runners, to the 3,400 athletes crossing the starting line - many of whom who are returning for another helping - to the local municipality, landowners and businesses of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
The Lavaredo organisational team set the tone for the whole event, smiling and motivating everyone from beginning to end. They are determined and resolute in the commitment, spending 51 weeks a year negotiating with the hundreds of parties involved in staging an event of this kind. But their job does not stop there. You will always see them at the finish line, welcoming in weary runners whatever the hour, be they the elites, mid-afternoon on Saturday or the courageous amateurs, dragging themselves across the finish line at 2am.
As Keith talks about them he can’t help continuing with stories of the same commitment and strength at all levels. “The aid stations are open for seven or eight hours each, but they retain the same energy and enthusiasm for all the runners, if not more for the amateurs. The elites have teams of support crew, but those who are coming round afterwards are on their own and the aid station teams take it as a personal responsibility to make sure they have been fed properly, their water bottles are filled up and they are ready to carry on on their odyssey.”
Whether you are returning to the fold and coming back to share this amazing experience again, or making your quest to Lavaredo for the first time, you will be welcomed, you will be included, and you will become part of the the very fabric of the event. Once you have taken part in Lavaredo, you will always be a part of this wonderful and beautiful story.