Marco de Gasperi sets Monte Rosa record

British runner Holly Page witnessed the great exploits yesterday of the Italian skyrunner

 Marco de Gasperi, captured via helicopter, on his record accent of Monte Rose (pic: Giacomo Meneghello)

Marco de Gasperi, captured via helicopter, on his record accent of Monte Rose (pic: Giacomo Meneghello)

After forming part of the winning women's duo at the Monte Rosa Skymarathon last weekend, Holly Page stayed on in the area to assist friend and 2017 Migu Run Sky Classic champion Marco de Gasperi by setting out route flags for his assault on the record. She gives her account, with translated quotes from his blog. Meanwhile, check out on the August-September 2018 edition of Trail Running - out on July 12 for a feature on Page.

“Such a momentous day, I’ve fulfilled a dream I’ve had since 1993 when aged 16, thanks to my father I was able to participate in the first edition of the Alagna Monterosa race. This was the moment when I understood what it meant to be a skyrunner.” These are the thoughts of 41-year-old Marco de Gasperi, who took four minutes off the Monte Rosa speed record yesterday. The record for the ascent and descent had been in place since 1994, held by the magnificent skyrunner Fabio Meraldi.

Marco ran the 32km route in 4 hours 20 minutes and 33 seconds - 3hours 10minutes and 40 seconds to the Margherita Refuge at 4554m and an incredible 1 hour 10 minutes on the descent.

Hoping that the thick fog would start to lift and the poor conditions would improve, Marco delayed his start by 15 minutes, leaving the Piazza Grober in the centre of Alagna at 5.30am.

The fog meant that the snow was softer than usual up to Punta Indren, which slowed him down on his ascent. However, higher up the mountain, it was the freezing temperatures and the icy wind which started to make things difficult for Marco; his hands were frozen and the intense cold made it difficult to breathe.

Despite the sub-optimal conditions, Marco arrived at the Margherita Refuge, atop Monte Rosa’s Signalkuppe four minutes up on Meraldi’s 15-year-old record time, certainly not enough to allow for an easy race back down to Alagna.

After getting his strength back, Marco’s descent just got faster and faster. “At Punta Indren, I realised that I would have to push as hard as I could, given that the route was getting more and more runnable," he continued on his blog. I ran but I also slid down the snow (and the rocks) but I knew that this section through the snow was my last chance to grasp the record. It was only when I was 3km from the finish that I really believed that I had done it."

Waiting in Alagna were many good friends, while another great friend, Franco Colle, who had helped him to plan the attempt had been waiting for him at the summit. “I have a huge respect for Fabio Meraldi’s record time," he wrote. "I called him from the finish line and speaking to him and hearing his congratulations was a huge pleasure. Although the conditions were far from perfect, my love for this sport has been one of the greatest motivators today, over the years I’ve learnt to run as much with my heart as with my legs. I dedicate this record to my two girls, Lydia and Cecilia, as I’ve just become a father again."