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The Cervino Vertical K is one of the major milestones in the history of skyrunning.

It was 1994 when the first ever Vertical Kilometre trial was held in Cervinia and the undisputed masters were: 1st  Ettore Champretavy, 2nd Bruno Brunod, 3rd Fabio Meraldi and 4th Marco De Gasperi: the history of the mountain race in a podium and beyond.

In 2014, twenty years later, A.S.D. Cervino Trailer has re-launched the challenge: the same route is travelled, the same battle, the same suffering, and the same thrills experienced by the first lords of the sky.

In 2015, the Cervino Vertical K bore witness to the 150th anniversary of the conquest of the Matterhorn/Cervino and became part of the Aosta Valley circuit “Défi Vertical”.

 

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The route starts at the centre of Cervinia at 2000 m a.s.l. You will run on a straight line of asphalt as far as the entrance to trail n°13; to avoid bottlenecks, the competitors will start in groups according to the time declared at the registration stage.

The runners take off in a blaze of speed and then the group breaks up. This is when the real fun starts. The route is immediately very steep, twice it crosses the shared access road which climbs towards the Oriondé shelter; it takes us to a first very charming passage which is technical but well equipped, and emerges a few hundred meters before the Church of the Italian Alpine Troops del Btg. Matterhorn.

From here there are 300 m of gently-sloping terrain, during which we pass the church which remains on the right until we reach a traffic bearing bridge.

Now trail n°13 winds to the left.  Rising very regularly, several times we meet the road which leads to the shelter. After a few minutes we reach Alp Crot Del Palet (2268 m), we go beyond it keeping to the right until we reach the dirt road again which we travel for 300 m as far as the waterfall bridge.

Just enough time to admire the waterfall and we immediately resume the trail to the left.

The route is now good and regular, runnable to the height of Alp Crot di Labie where the trail, which winds through a large meadow, becomes suddenly steeper to reach highs of 50%.

Things are getting serious; the legs feel heavy, the heart accelerates, breathing is difficult.

We have reached an altitude of 2544 m, at Alp Eura; with its large barn it offers an excellent area for the water stop.

The race continues along the farm road for 100 metres on undemanding terrain; further on to the right a sign will lead you to a track which, in a straight line, will take you to the shelter Duca degli Abruzzi.

The first sections are unimportant slopes, undemanding, but suddenly (2,600 metres of height) a vertical section presents itself with highs greater than 60%; you will have only 2 road crossings which will let you catch your breath.

The second food and water stop, will be at the Shelter l’ Oriondé (or Duca degli Abruzzi).

We bypass the shelter and quickly away for 150 m on totally flat terrain before climbing the first rocky step of the spur which from Testa del Leone descends in the direction of Breuil.

Now the trail becomes very rocky; head down and blood in mouth we continue as far as a second and third rocky step until we reach Croce Carrel. The cross awaits us, dug into the rock, inside a small niche. It is placed with the photo of Jean Antoine Carrel, the legendary “Rifleman conqueror of Cervino”; in that exact point, on 24th August 1890, he died of exhaustion after rescuing a client.

Not much more to go now, an 80 m elevation gain and we are at the finish line.

A few technical and rocky metres and we finally reach the 3020 m of the finish line. A quick look at the chronometer and we can now take a look at the valley. We see Cervinia and the road we travelled. The heart is beating fast and breathing is difficult.

We drink a cup of tea and prepare to re-descend knowing that we have overcome the challenge, with ourselves or with others and having once again raced on the trail where the vertical kilometre race was born in 1994.

 

 



Valerio Bertoglio

Kilian Jornet