Le Porte di Pietra (ITA) “Open” – 72 KM

ITA – Le Porte di Pietra, 15 May 2021 (photo by T. Bassa)

“Le Porte di Pietra” is one of the historic races on the trail-running scene in Italy.

Since 2006 it has taken place continuosly on the same route with start and finish in Cantalupo Ligure within the Val Borbera.

At the start of the 16th edition, about 440 athletes showed up, many of them with a high ITRA score (>750) indicatiing an excellent parterre.

The final ranking was divided into 2 races: the Italian championship (FIDAL) & the Open. I took part to the Open.

To follow, as usual, I share some details on the race, on the material used, and on other aspects that may be of interest.

Race review: my goals and status

The main premise is that I had three goals:

  1. Testing my overall condition in long uphill, as I cannot do it frequently in Hesse (Germany)
  2. Testing new equipment (shoes and backpack in view of-La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail – Home in June)
  3. Confirming my competition nutrition plan which I have been implementing for a couple of years (Note: I train and attend ultra races without any external assistence)

I did not have a time target, but I still wanted to finish the race between 11 and 12 hours, even knowing I had a potential margin to be faster.

Much more important: I wanted to finish the race still able to drive back to the B&B and then drive about 1000 km the next day! 🙂

Mentally I had divided the race into three sections:

  1. From the start to km 21, the most challenging and difficult but also the one I already knew
  2. From km 21 to km 50
  3. From km 50 to the finish line

Section 1 (0 to km 21)

The tiredness of travelling by car from Germany and the few hours of sleep since I was also sleeping 30 minutes far away from the start made me approach the first kilometers wisely.

Despite this, on the ramps after the Pertuso footbridge (km 5) in the direction of the Croce degli Alpini, I saw just in front of me some of the female top-runners. So the pace was good enough.

I continued at my pace, never using the poles, even on the steepest ramps. In fact, one of the tests I wanted to do was to use the poles in a different way: never in the first section, always in the second section, never at the end. It was a test as I do often in training or competition.

The passage at the first refreshment point (km 11,8) in less than 1h40′ was definetively comforting, especially since I hadn’t suffered the steep climbs.

The next part until Costa Salata (km 21) I ran with a group of 4/5 runners, often alternating in positions. At the second refreshment point, I filled the flaskes and I took the poles.

Section 2 (km 21 to km 50)

I knew that using the poles was a risky factor, having not used them since long time. But, in view of Lavaredo Ultra Trail, I just wanted to do this test.

How did it go? Not very well, but I already knew that! 🙂

The use of poles distracted me a lot: I stopped eating regularly (see next chapter), I slowed down a lot despite having energy, and I did not concentrate on the cold and wind, giving up covering myself with the jacket.

So the kilometers between km 25 and km 40, mostly uphill but with some short muddy and slippery slopes, were the most complicated.

However, I am happy to have been able to manage them to get to the next refreshment point (km 40) still smiling and in strength.

Obviously here I decided that the test with the poles “could be enough for today“! 🙂

So I re-attached them to the front-part of the backpack as you can see from the photo.

I point this out because the backpack was also part of my test day. And it passed the test! There are few little things that I will adjust for the next races, but overall I was fine with it.

Until the next refreshment point at Capanne Cosola (ca. 50 km), I just concentrated on eating well and getting back to the status of the first three hours.

Section 3 (km 50 to km 72)

Speaking about eating, at this refreshment point, there was a nice and funny moment with a volunteer who tried to hide while eating a portion of fries with mayonnaise.

Since I really like to joke around in the race, with a big smile on my face, I told him: “Hey, seriuosly? You are doing it on purpose. It is unfair. Tell me the truth! You do want really to test my resilience”.

No look, I was even trying to hide and not to be seen. Sorry!“.

“I leave immediately …this is torture, more than the next uphill !!” 🙂

We both laughed.

Well, I was really missing these moments with the volunteers and organizers during an ultra.

For the record: I really congratulate all of them for their kindness and organization with respect for all Covid-19 rules.

After this parenthesis (and already 7 hours on the track) I started the last two uphills. I felt better and I mostly jogged in order to keep a constant pace both uphill and downhill. Even the wind was less strong and finally a few rays of sunshine gave me a little comfort to the slightly chilled hands.

For the next two hours I was almost always alone, and I did not mind this because I enjoyed the landscape around, the view from the peaks of Monte Ebro and Monte Giarolo, and the single trails through the beech tree.

Just before the last refreshment and in anticipation of the last long rocky downhill I took again the poles. Namely, I wanted to use them to speed up my jogging in some short uphills and to control the steps while running downhill.

In fact, the other material I was testing today was the shoes. I had noticed that for a few kilometers I felt the impact with ground much more and therefore I wanted to give my feet a little relaxation, “playing” and “using” the poles.

Overall, the shoes did great: responsive and with a good grip. I will test them again in two weeks at the Ultrabericus trail, but in general I find them very suitable for distances below 60 km. Not longer.

The final downhill was relatively fast, with my legs still in very good condition, and perhaps I could have pushed even harder. But the goal today was not the final time which, however, was very good for me.

So, after 9h50′, I crossed the finish line with a big smile because it was a really good race for me.

And still with energy to drive right after towards the B&B and back to Germany on Sunday morning! 🙂

Additional comments

Needless to say, the best part of the race were the short or long moments with friends I had not seen for long time:

  • Diego (both before, during and after the race), Simone, Alessandro and Sergio
  • Vincenzo (at the start and the first refreshment point)
  • Anna, just for few moments along the last downhill
  • Michal and Lobo, cheering me in the last few hundred meter

Too bad I did not see and greet all the others who were there. But times were tight.

Small criticism instead of all the runners who abandoned wasted gels and bar packaging on the track. There were not many, but there were. Trail Running is not like this. Learn to use the object that I show in the gallery. 😉

Race information

Official website: Porte Di Pietra | Trail Running su lunghe distanze

Official distance: 73,6 km

Official Cumulative Gain +: 4490 m

Official Cumulative Loss -: 4490 m

Official max altitude: 1676 m

Start Date: 15/05/2021

Start Time: 7:03 a.m.

Start Point: sports Hall, Cantalupo Ligure

Cost: 65 € (0,89 €/km)

Air Temperature (average): 12°C, but colder between km 20 and km 55

Weather conditions: mainly cloudy & windy; cold and a bit foggy at high altitudes

Dominant Ground: footpath

Ground Status: mainly wet

Technical Difficulties: the steep ascent to the Croce degli Alpini (km 5 to km 8); some slippery descents due to mud and rain that had fallen in the previous hours

Refreshment Points: 7 (ca.11,8 km; ca. 21 km; ca. 27 km; ca. 40 km; ca. 50 km; ca. 65 km; finish line)

Race results

Official results: Classifica 16a edizione ‘Le Porte di Pietra’ – gare open – wedosport

Official starters: 163

Official finishers: 155

Official personal time: 9h50’01”

Official personal absolute position: 10

Official personal male position: 10

Official personal AGE Position (M40): n.a.

Official personal finisher certificate: Le-Porte-di-Pietra-Gallery-4.jpg (1080×1469) (emigrantrailer.com)

Personal ratio absolute position/starters: 6,1

Personal Gps move (by Suunto 9): https://www.suunto.com/move/andreadefilippo70/609fecff1f3e0b3c894578eb 

Personal Registration Team: Team NO LIMITS

Race equipment

Shoes Type: Saucony Peregrine 11 (Size: UK 8.5 / EU 43 / USA 9.5; Color: Future Black Noir)

Shoes usage at the start: 107 km; ca. 3000 m +/-

Anklet: F&V (only used for the right ankle) (Note: I had a second one in the backpack, plus additional adhesive tape)

Socks: Thyo Special Trail (Size: 41-43; Color: Black/Blue)

Calf Sleeves: Compressor R2 V2 (Color: Blue)

Shorts: Raidlight Trail Raider Short (Size: M; Color: Dark Blue)

Race Belt: Suunto / Salomon (Color: Black)

Undershirt: Scenic Trail 2018 T-Shirt (Color: Blue/Black)

T-Shirt: Raidlight XP Fit 3D (Size: M; Color: Dark Blue)

Arm Sleeves: by Trail del Pescatore 2015

Gloves: Sportful Bike Gloves

Wristband: Nike (Color: Blue)

GPS Clock: Suunto 9 (Color: Black)

Backpack: Ultimate Direction 10,8L (Size: M; Color: Blue)

Headwear: Buff (Team NO LIMITS) (Note: I also had a cap with me, but not used)

Glasses: Rudy Project (Color: Black) (Note: I think I lost them somewhere after the race…if someone finds them…)

Trail Running Poles: Black Diamond (Note: only used between km 23 and km 40 and between km 65 and 72 km)

Headlamp: Oxylane (Note: not used but in the backpack; three spare batteries as well in the backpack)

Wind/Rain Jacket: Dynafit React (Color: Orange) (Note: not used but in the backpack)

First Aid Help: not used but in the backpack (Note: it included a thermal blanket, mobile phone, money, ID-Card, patches, tissues)

Race nutrition plan

For the moment I leave aside the feeding of the last weeks (maybe I will talk about it after the LUT involving a qualified person) and I write here some information on the nutrion adopted during the race.

The latter is the result of several personal tests done during long training sessions.

There are still a lot of things to fix but I found myself quite well.

For the food:

  • 1 Antioxidant gel by Overstim’s (10 minutes before the start)
  • 1 Organic bar Banana/Dates by Overstim’s (after 1h10′)
  • 1 Organic Energy Balls by Overstim’s (after 2h20′)
  • 1 Long Distance Energy Gel by Overstim’s (after 3h)
  • 1 Organic bar Banana/Dates by Overstim’s (after 3h30′)
  • 1 Long Distance Energy Gel by Overstim’s (after 5h30′)
  • 1 Organic Nougat Bar by Overstim’s (after 6h)
  • 1 Organic Energy Balls by Overstim’s (after 7h)
  • 1 Instant Energy Gel by Overstim’s (after 8h30´)

For the drinks:

  • 1 Liter of water and electrolyte sports drink (until 21 km)
  • 1 Liter of water and electrolyte sports drink (until 40 km)
  • 1,5 Liter of water and electrolyte sports drink (until 64 km)
  • 0,5 Liter of water (until finish line)

Beyond the race: COVID-19 rules

“Le Porte di Pietra” was my first official trail-running competition in Italy, after the new era created by the pandemic COVID-19. Therefore, I was curious to see how the protocol was applied. The rules applied at Le Porte di Pietra were provided to all participants at the time of the registration and were subsequently recalled through e-mail communication and on the social channels of the events.

The rules were easy and simple to be followed. Personally, I also believe that they were effective. I try to list all of them here, in order to share this experience with other organizers and runners:

  • Starting number distribution organized in a wide area (outdoor) of a sports Hall, with one lane to enter and one lane to exit. Before entering the area, the body temperature was checked to confirm it was below 37°C;
  • Organizators provided the starting number, pending a signed certificate/document where each runner stated his health conditions in relation to COVID-19 synthoms. Note: it was required to bring the document during the number distribution, not via e-mail;
  • Everybody (runners and organizers) to cover nose and mouth (with a mask) in the common areas (like in the oustide area of the sports Hall, at the start line, at the finish line and at the refreshment points). No public allowed to enter the race areas;
  • Each runner to bring his own personal cup for the entire duration of the event;
  • Each organizer to wear gloves and masks at the refreshment points;
  • Each runner could not take drink beverages on his own at the refreshment points. Each runner to request drinks to the organizers. The organizers helped with filling the flasks;
  • No food provided at the refreshment point. Note: personally I think this is a good approach to reduce the waste of food and to make sure that everybody is able to manage himself during the race. For me this rule should have been already introduced before Covid-19;
  • Start line organized in several groups, each one classified according to ITRA standing. The nominal distance among the runners should have been 1 meter. Of course, this was not 100% respected. But, honestly, everybody was wearing a mask and not touching each other. So, it was already a good application of the main rules;
  • No big award cerimony to avoid crowded places, but the first runners (males and females) were awarded following all previous rules;
  • No shower at the end of the race.

In the end, I cannot recall anybody (whether runner or organizer) deviating by these rules along each meter of the track. Therefore, I can only say: VERY GOOD JOB to all organizers and runners.

Additional information

If you want more information or technical details related to this event, please do not hesitate to contact me or comment below.

Other information about races, results and equipments at the following link: Trail & Running | EmigranTrailer.

Kind Regards

Andrea De Filippo

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