Focus on a race Interview

Trail running on the slopes of Mount Etna In Italy

13 May 2014 13:25
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Credit : Etna Trail

Hello, on August 2nd 2014, you’ll be organizing the Etna Trail. Can you tell us where it is located?

The race takes place on Mount Etna, which is the highest volcano in Europe. In 2013 it was added to the list of UNESCO’s world heritage site and defined as one of the volcanoes “most emblematic and active in the world.” Authors have been writing about the volcano for some 2,700 years.

More precisely, the race starts 1,900 meters above sea level in the locality called Piano Provenzana that is located above the town of Linguaglossa.


It will be the inaugural race. What was your motivation when you created the event?

It will be the inaugural race if we talk about 64 km, but we are already at the 4th edition of the event. In 2011 we organized an 18 km trail, in 2012 and 2013, we extended the distance to 30 km.

I am head of a group of runners who live a healthy passion for running and trail running in particular. We are all proud inhabitants of Etna, who have decided in 2010 to share our passion with other runners by creating the Etna Trail.

The real motivation that has moved my group and me to the creation of the event is the passion for a sport that puts those who practice it in contact with nature and the love for a territory that knows to give unique sensations and emotions to those who runs through it.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The route that we have prepared, in our opinion, is really exciting and technically challenging. 98% of the route is unpaved, of which about 70% are trails. The soil of race includes lava rocks, sandy tracts and maybe even traits of sand and ice that will severely test the technical skills of each runner.

The downhill start allows a good warm-up phase with the pleasure of enjoying the scents of an ancient forest of pine trees. Then starts a long and challenging climb to 2,300 meters that will have the participants run up through the forest to the splendid lunar landscape offered by the Valle del Bove. From there begins a downhill on which two volcanic cones and sections of deep sand will be found.

After the sandy stretches, the route enters the woods to go down again until a dirt road that will take the runners slightly uphill until they enter the Grotta dei Lamponi. From Grotta dei Lamponi, a long climb on single tracks, will lead the runners to the Grotta del Gelo were it might be possible to see ice stalactites.

From there, going back for a few miles, begins the tough climb that will take them up to 3,000 meters where, once arrived, the runners may feel the breath of the volcano. After this great effort begins a 10 km downhill that runners should not underestimate because of the difficulties involved which leads them directly to the finish line.

Credit : Etna Trail

Credit : Etna Trail

How many runners do you expect on Saturday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

We expect about 150 runners for the 64 km and more than 200 for the 24km.

The runners we plan to attract are: the ones that are well trained, with technical abilities who intend take part in a ultra-trail to make a good performance; those who just want to live a great experience in a unique natural environment; and finally all those who love the hospitality of the Sicilian people. We are sure that if you take part once in the Etna Trail, you’ll want to come back.

Do you organize other races during the Weekend? If so, on what distances?

As mentioned on the same day of the race we organize the Ornitos Trail 24 km and a Walk trail of 16 km that follows parts of the 64km course.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

We are in the middle of summer but at altitude, so we expect the temperature to range from a minimum of 8 °C to a maximum of 25 °C. We hope the day will be sunny day as it has been for the three previous editions.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

Yes on arrival there is a pasta party (free for competitors) and a folkloristic show with music (we’re still working out a precise program).

Credit : Etna Trail

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Linguaglossa before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

Coming to Linguaglossa is a great opportunity to visit not only the volcano, but also one of the most beautiful areas of Sicily. Linguaglossa is located about 25 km from Taormina (“the pearl of the Ionian Sea”), about 15 kilometers from the Alcantara Gorges and 15 km from the Ionian Sea.

So I would recommend the participants to organize themselves for more than a day of stay (for any tourist information you can contact Rosita +39 349 1334321).

After such a challenging race (or even before if any one want) it is worth to spend an evening enjoying the excellent wine produced on Etna accompanied by typical dishes immersed in a typical environment as a wine cellar (in this case could advise the farm Gambino)

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Etna Trail?

I would use the quote form a great ultra-runner that we’ve put on the home page of our website:

If you are looking for the thrill, if you are looking for a pounding heart, if you give everything in your runs, if mountain is your passion, if you want to look up and see the volcano, if you’re looking to be part of a story, then you’re looking for the “Etna Trail”.

Interview with Carmelo Santoro.