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Race Report: Trans D'Havet

Trans D'havet course view
Image: Trans D'Havet

Trans D'Havet is a race that holds a special place in the community around Piccole Dolomiti, a mountain range in Northern Italy that takes its name from the more famous Dolomiti which spans across Veneto and Trentino further north. The race arrived at its 12th edition and it became an institution among the trail running community with pro athletes competing on its trails every year - Kilian Jornet won the race in 2013 for example.

Distance: 24k, 42k, 80k

Where: Valdagno, Italy

When: Third weekend of July

Cost: €80-95 for the 80k

How to Enter: Register on the official website

The Event

This year Trans D'Havet had more than 250 runners participating in the long distance, resulting in one of the most participated editions. Over the years, the race saw an increase in popularity thanks to many pro runners, a lot of them coming from the area, competing for first place and the importance that the race has among local communities. 11 local municipalities are involved and support the race, together with many volunteers working on the course and in the aid stations. The race means a lot to these small communities located in the proximity of Piccole Dolomiti.

rifugio froccaroli view sunrise
A Runner approaching Rifugio Fraccaroli. Image: Trans D'Havet

The event is staged by Ultrabericus Team, a known organizer in the area, which is responsible for another famous race in the race like Ultrabericus Trail. At the 12th edition, we can firmly say that they know how to organize an Ultra. Everything worked from the registration to the finish line. Kudos to them for sharing the race pictures for free to all athletes - more races should follow their lead on this topic.

The Course

Trans d'havet ultra 80k course
Trans D'Havet ultra 80k course

The course develops point-to-point from Piovene Rocchette to Valdagno and the race starts at midnight (shorter distances start from other locations and all finish in Valdagno after following the same course). The course line can be identified by just looking at the mountains from the plane just below the range which is fascinating and not usual. The course has more than 5,200m of elevation with most of the climbs located in the first 50k - get your poles out and ready to go.

After the first kilometer in town, the race starts immediately with a climb of nearly 1,000m to Monte Summano at 1,200m. This is the first of 4 big climbs up to Cima Carega and Rifugio Fraccaroli at 2,238m. One of these climbs is the legendary 52 Gallerie del Pasubio which features 52 tunnels built during WWI to fight the Austrian army. The tunnels cover 2.3k of the total length (6.5k) with 700m of elevation gain and a stunning view if you are fast enough to arrive here at sunrise.

Runner in Valdagno
Runner in Valdagno. Image: Trans D'Havet

After these big climbs, the descent to Valdagno is riskless and mostly runnable, except for a few climbs on a single-track trail. While running the last kilometers you can see the town from above and, as you pass the houses on the outskirts, you will hear the cheering and a lot of "Bravo!"

My Race

strava activity trans d'havet

Something that never misses at Trans D'Havet is bad weather during the night. This year seemed to be no exception as we approached the start line and we could see lighting from the mountains while the rain was coming down. Luckily enough, as we started running the rain had stopped and we were off to a wonderful night and day.

On the first climb, I started to make my way to the top of the pack - elite runners are already gone by this point - and arrived at the top of Monte Summano in great shape and ready to run the descent. My expectations were wrong since the technical terrain made it almost impossible to run - no problem, off to the next climb to Monte Novegno. Here we passed a long runnable section in the wood, ascending and descending as we remained below the tree line. By this point, I started to run with 2 other guys pacing ourselves through the night without seeing anyone ahead of us - the elites were gone forever.

view from 52 Gallerie del Pasubio
The view from 52 Gallerie del Pasubio. Image: Enrico Merlo

Around 5 am we arrived at Passo Xomo, the gateway to 52 Gallerie del Pasubio. I did not study the course extensively before the race and I didn't think we were about to run all the 52 tunnels, but only some of them - I was wrong. As we started the ascent, I remained with just one guy, Valerio, who I found out had run UTMB, LUT and Trans D'Havet multiple times and with amazing results. We ended up running the next 30k together and chatting about ultra and trail running. We arrived at Pian delle Fugazze (42k) when the sun was already up and warming us after the night. After a quick stop at the aid station for some food, we approached the biggest climb of the course: Cima Carega. The ascent felt endless with the last section being almost vertical. We kept a steady pace and we caught one runner ahead of us, by this time we were around position 24th - not bad.

At Rifugio Scalrobi (53k) our paths divided because Valerio was fresher than me and went on to his race (he arrived 17th, 15 minutes ahead of me). This was the lowest point of my race. My legs were tired, I fell once and I was afraid my energies were too low to run the last 30k. But I didn't stop. Lucky for me, the next 20k were all runnable and on a steady gentle descent so my legs picked up and I ran at a nice pace as I arrived at the last aid station in Malga Campo Davanti before the final descent to Valdagno.

Finish line mum trans d'havet
Scenes from the finish line. Image: Trans D'Havet

Remember what I said earlier? It is not Trans D'Havet without some bad weather. Indeed, we had a small rain and hailstorm which made the descent to Valdagno slippery and tricky on the initial section. Anyway, my mind was already focused on the finish line and I picked up the pace catching up with runners from the shorter distances and arriving in Valdagno in position 24th in just above 13 hours.

The result made me glad I threw myself into this challenge, despite the low elevation gain in my training and no experience in running 80k. One note to myself - and anyone approaching the race: you need poles. I hadn't and it was annoying seeing other runners taking advantage of the poles to lower the weight on their legs and backs. With all the elevation, you need them.

Nutrition: 6x SIS Gels & Aid Station food

Final Scorecard

Course ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Piccole Dolomite offers amazing views through the night and, especially, at sunrise.

Logistics ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Atmosphere ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Medal & Tee ⭐⭐⭐


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