Olmo outdistances the field and wins the Desert Cup
While the sun beats down inexorably on the sandy dunes, your skin starts to boil, your throat becomes parched from the heat, the fatigue, and the thirst: how many hundreds of kilometers has Marco Olmo run under conditions that are at the very brink of human limits?
Thirteen years ago at the age of 40, the athlete from Robilante hung up his skis after a successful downhill racing career, and started participating in extreme running competitions in the desert, reaping one success after the other. By now he is a veteran at the famous Marathon des Sables in Morocco, having competed six times and coming in third three times. Last year he won both the Desert Marathon in Libya (for the third time) and the Desert Cup in Jordan.
This year was no different - in May he won the Sinai Marathon of the 10 Commandments (climbing the biblical ascent where Moses received the Commandments in record time), in July he won the Trail du Verdon in France, and on June 16 and 17 the 1° Grand Raid International “Sur les traces de Cromagnon”, all at 2000 meters. The 100 km race, which varied between 5500 and 6500 meters, started from Limone Piemonte (Cn), and climbed up mule paths and descended down precipitous trails to the Marquet beach at Cap d’Ail, not far from the Louis II stadium: Olmo ran it in 12 hours and 10 minutes, winning by 2 hours and 54 minutes.
Also this year, he participated in the Bad Water Ultramarathon in the desert in California, considered the most extreme and prestigious ultra marathon in the world. 135 miles non-stop between Death Valley and the gateway to Mount Whitney, which climbed from -282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the entire United States, to more than 8300 feet above sea level, at temperatures higher than 126 F° (approx. 52 °C).
What is the secret of this man who spends his Saturdays and Sundays alone in the mountains where he was born and has always lived? Every day that he is not working at the Buzzi Unicem quarry at Robilante, Marco – with a backpack on his back – trains by doing “long ones”, or long distance runs for seven or eight hours on the old trails that crisscross the Val Gesso, formerly busy throughways to France and now the kingdom of eagles and mountain goats. In the afternoon, when he leaves the receiving area of the quarry crushing facility, he can be found on the roads and byways of the villages around Robilante. For years he has been a fervent vegetarian, eating mainly chestnuts, potatoes, and pasta. “Every day – he tells us – I train for at least two hours, even running on the state highway, but whenever possible I prefer to run in the mountains or the desert, because it is only there, when I am alone with my own heart beating and my endorphins and adrenalin have been stimulated by the running, that I can think and arrive at important decisions”.