Approaching the world of trail running in Italy one of the first names I often heard mentioned was that of Pablo Barnes.
Then, I was enough lucky to see him on the competition field during several occasions in the following years: Trail Oulx in 2012, TRAIL MONTE CASTO | Mau Scilla Official Site in 2013, Ultra Trail Lago d’Orta – UTLO (ultratraillo.com) in 2014.
All trail running races.
But certainly, the occasion during which I saw him several times was not a trail running event. It was rather the 24-hour world championship at Ruffini park in Turin in 2015. The park was 500 meters away from my flat and Pablo was running like a hamster on the ring inside the park, along with many other friends of mine and all the other athletes from several parts of world.
In that occasion Pablo was representing his country and therefore running with the T-shirt of Argentina.
From this introduction it is therefore clear that Pablo has both the two requisites to be part of the emigrantrailer category: “emigrant” and “trailer“.
What it is not evident from this introduction is that, beyond being a strong ultramarathoner and trail runner, Pablo is a really nice person, always smiling and available, as also demonstrated in this occasion.
So tonight, we picked up the phone, we made a very pleasant call Hesse (Germany) <-> Liguria (Italy), talking about running, the (likely) chance to see each other at “Le Porte di Pietra” in few weeks, and the very spontaneous replies by Pablo to my five TRAIL questions.
T like Team
“More or less, since I have known you, I have identified you with two teams: the Salomon Team with whom you have been racing for years and the family team with Virginia, your wife, with whom you share the passion for running. And the latter team is expanding now with your daughter Camilla who has started trail running. How important is the concept of team for you?”
“Look Andrea, when we started to attend running competitions obviously, we had to sign up for a team for practical reasons. In reality we have always trained alone, never in group. So, it is fair to say that Virginia and I have always teamed up together. But in the last summer in Argentina, we started to group together with runners there. And it was nice, and gave us new motivations. Therefore we are back in Italy with some ideas and I can anticipate to you something new that will start soon. Namely, we just created an “Associazione Sportiva Dilettantistica – ASD Barnes Trail & Road“. The main idea is to do trail & road running with children and teenagers, starting from what we already do with Camilla and her peers. More to come in the next weeks! :-)”
R like Running
“Pablo, I’ve been following you for many years and it is really hard to tell if you are an ultra-trail runner or an ultra-marathoner. You are basically both and it seems that you enjoy both disciplines equally. Is that so? and which passion was born first?”
“Well, if I had to tell you everything in detail, I think it would take hours. I’ll try to be short. At the beginning I did not know trail running. But living in a village where when you left the house you had only two options, to go up or down on the trails, it was automatic to always run a few kilometers on the paths; often to reach a road where to ran few kilometers. The first few times I did not know anything about competitions, training, tables, etc. I relied only on my physical abilities. In fact, I’ll tell you a couple of anecdotes”.
“I had recently started to run at least 10km on the road. I saw a flyer about a 42 km run (Rigantoca), starting from Genoa (link: Genoa – Wikipedia). With Virginia we decided to go and we arrived there just wearing T-shirt, shorts, and road shoes. Everyone else wore wind jackets, backpacks and had sticks! In short, we had gone there thinking it was a road marathon while instead it was 42 km with 2000 m of elevation gain between Genoa and the surrounding mountain. It was a trail running competition! Obviously we started. And obviously, I started in the front, leading the race in an “ignorant” way, in the sense that not only I was running at high pace, but I still did not know how to interpret the trail race signs and marks. So, at certain point, after some kilometers, with all the colored arrows on the road and tapes on the trees to take a turn on the right, I kept running straight. Because the road went straight! Then I arrived on a fast road and I understood that something was wrong. I did three more kilometers, returned to the race course and in the end, I also finished third overall. This was the first unplanned trail experience”.
“The second anecdote started when Virginia told me: “I would like to do this race, the Gran Raid Cro Magnon (100 km, 5500m D+)”. She went there and she won! (link: Statistica di ultramaratona della DUV (d-u-v.org)). And from there we can say that it all begins. In fact, the next year 2007, she was invited to the first edition of the Le Porte Di Pietra – Porte Di Pietra, a race that it is part of the history of the Italian trail running. I went with her and I asked the organization if there was still a bib for me. I ran well and in the end I found myself on the podium with the legend Marco Olmo (link: Marco Olmo – Wikipedia) and with Virginia, who won the women’s ranking. Since then, the trail running has been part of our life, as well as the road ultramarathons”.
A like Argentina
“You have lived in Italy for many years, but you are Argentinian. And I have seen you proudly wearing your country’s jersey several times in different editions of world competitions. How much do you miss Argentina and do you have three places to recommend if anyone goes there?”
“I start by telling you that I have been living in Italy for half my life and my love for Italy is incredible. For Argentina? Mentally I have overcome the phase of “missing” the native country. However, Argentina for me is a very deep internal feeling. Every time I wear the national team shirt, I always feel an extra motivation, a greater push. I think it depends on the fact that I always have to prove something more by living abroad: to my country, to teammates and to all those who were not selected in my place. And it is always a fantastic emotion to cross the final finish line, knowing that I have given everything”.
“For the three place I’ll be quick to answer you: Bariloche (link: Bariloche – Wikipedia), Ushuaia (link: Ushuaia – Wikipedia) and Mar de la Plata (link: Mar del Plata – Wikipedia), where you can meet many excellent Argentine runners”.
I like ITRA
“If I remember correctly, you are the runner representative for Italy at the International Trail Running Association (– ITRA). How is ITRA facing and managing this situation linked to Covid-19?“
“I have to tell you that it is a pretty complicated situation. There is the Covid-19 factor that took everyone by surprise, with significant economic consequences given the continuous cancellation of the races from 2020 to 2021. And then there was the takeover just before Covid. The two combined factors have made everything more complicated and therefore, we only hope that there is a general improvement that will allow us to restart with the races like a couple of years ago”.
L like Leonidas
“Pablo, if I say “Leonidas” what do you say?“
“Well, it is the symbol of the most important race of the season for us (Virginia and I): SPARTATHLON Ultra Race. It is a historic ultramarathon with a unique charm and it is a race that seems made for us: the distance, the terrain, the mountain, the weather conditions. I cannot describe to you all the emotions I feel every time I am there, along that road, fighting against the heat and the tiredness, but then releasing all the joy and satisfaction when I arrive at the end and hug the statue of Leonidas. For me it is the best race in the world”.
“Maybe then one day I’ll give a try there! Thanks again Pablo for your availability and friendliness“.
Additional information about Pablo
In case you would like to contact Pablo for more detailed information about being an “emigrantrailer” in Italy, it is useful to know that:
- Age: 45 years (1976)
- Country of origin: Argentina (Buenos Aires)
- Country of current residence: Italy (Calice Ligure, Liguria)
- Facebook: Pablo Barnes | Facebook
- Facebook: Pablo Angel Nicolas Barnes – Atlete – Home | Facebook
- Instagram: @elhabilbarnes
- ITRA profile: Pablo BARNES – ITRA
- Spoken languages: Italian, Spanish, English, German
Related projects and articles
Other short chats with “Emigrantrailers” around the world at the link: Emigrantrailers around the world | EmigranTrailer.
Andrea De Filippo
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