When it comes to Livigno SkyMarathon, no one knows it better than Italy’s skyrunning dream team, Marco De Gasperi and Elisa Desco.
Elisa, who is one of the favourites to win this year, set the record on one of the first versions of the course back in 2014 and placed third last year. Her partner, Marco, who has been competing in skyrunning at the top level for over 20 years, is also a member of the Livigno SkyMarathon race committee and therefore one of the masterminds behind the world-famous course and event.
With just a matter of days before the 2019 edition, we caught up with Marco and Elisa to find out more about the recent changes that have been made to the course and how it’s grown to become a highlight of the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series Calendar.
Marco – the organiser
Why do you think Livigno SkyMarathon has become a highlight of the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series Calendar? What is it that makes this race attract the best athletes from all over the world?
Those who know me, know that I’ve been a very passionate Skyrunner for decades and I believe in the true essence of Skyrunning. A few years ago, I tried to find a great combination of technicality, ridges, vertical climbs, and stunning landscapes in Livigno near to where I live. Livigno is the capital of outdoor sports in the Alps, so I believe we found the best of everything and combined it in such a way to attract athletes from all over the world to the race. This year it’s an even more appealing challenge because it’s a SuperSky Race, therefore runners can score double points for the ranking.
How do you think the conditions on the course will be this year?
Some changes are mandatory for us this year. We need to keep the course epic but we can’t risk going where the snow could be too dangerous for the athletes! There is a lot of snow which arrived late and there hasn’t been enough sun to melt it. We will avoid the Cassana ridge, unfortunately, but there will be other climbs and the via ferrata. Don’t worry, I can assure you that the race will be amazing with all this snow, you’ll see.
How has the race grown and developed over the years? Have you seen a big change since it’s become a SuperSky Race?
Of course. After the last edition, we had so much positive feedback about Livigno Skymarathon, and even about what Livigno offers to its visitors! This year we have been selected as a SuperSky Race which means the race plays an even bigger role in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series circuit. We hope to see some great battles on this course on Saturday that will show the world what an incredible race Livigno Skymarathon is.
Elisa Desco at the 2018 Livigno SkyMarathon – © MRSWS, iancorless.com
Elisa – the athlete
How do you feel your season is going so far and what do you expect from your next race in Livigno?
I couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season with my amazing victory at the Mt. Awa Skyrace. Unfortunately, following that, my first try at an Ultra Marathon at Transvulcania, didn’t go to plan but I still managed to bring home an honorable sixth place. I’m feeling in good shape and prepared for Livigno and I hope this continues throughout the race.
What is it you enjoy most about the route and why do you think you are so strong on this course in particular?
What I love most about Livigno SkyMarathon is that it has the three fundamental conditions which, in my opinion, define a true Skyrace: technicality, ridges and high altitude. I’m not sure why it is that I’ve always performed well on this course but I believe that adapting to the altitude is essential as well as starting slow on the first ascent.
How do you plan on defending your 2014 course record this year?
The course record is not so important. The race is still very young and many changes have been made to the route as they continue to find the perfect version. I will try to play my best cards, especially in the descents, and hope to just enjoy it like I always have done.
Livigno SkyMarathon will take place on June 15 at 8:30 am. To find out more about the lineup, read the full pre-race news article.