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Ecomarathon: A trail run, but not too much.

We interviewed the fantastic Giorgia Bianco, a true enthusiast of running and mountains, who shared her experiences with us. We want to share her words, her advice, and her deep passion for sport with you all.

 

The Corsa della Bora – The Bora Wind Race – was born as a 57 km race: a contest with mountain trails but by the sea, in the middle of winter. The greatest satisfaction comes when runners, who have completed it, say, “I didn’t expect such challenging terrain.” The 42 km race of the Corsa della Bora, the S1 Ecomarathon, is exactly the opposite.

These are two races that are not only differentiated by their lengths but also have a completely different spirit. Two worlds sharing the same panorama over the Gulf of Trieste.

The Ecomarathon begins from the evocative Piazza Unità d’Italia, located in the heart of Trieste, the largest square in Europe facing the sea. Famous for its striking architecture, the square is surrounded by numerous historical buildings, including the Town Hall, the elegant Modello Palace, and the majestic Lloyd Triestino Palace. The square has a long past that reflects the complex history of Trieste: once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then capital of the autonomous region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy. The square played a central role in the historical events of the city, being the stage for celebrations, protests, and historical moments. Beyond its architecture and history, Piazza Unità d’Italia was also a meeting point for intellectuals. Writers, poets, and thinkers like Italo Svevo and Umberto Saba frequented its historical cafés, contributing to the unique literary atmosphere that still characterizes the city of Trieste.

From here, the route climbs through the alleys of the old city up to San Giusto Hill, a place that marked the history of the entire upper Adriatic, and where in 1356, during the war between Trieste and Venice, Austrian prince Leopold III ordered an assault on the city. The Austrians set up a camp on San Giusto Hill, from where they bombarded the city for months. The event culminated with the victorious entry of Leopold III into the city, an event that changed the course of Trieste’s history and marked the beginning of a long period of Austrian domination.

 

From here, the route descends along the Cottur Cycle Path, the old railway track that connected Trieste to Parenzo, a rail line now discontinued and transformed into a cycle and pedestrian path. Along the path, one can admire fascinating views of the city, the sea, and the surrounding hills, as well as historical remnants of the old railway, including the enchanting Val Rosandra, where the 57 km competitors will face the technical scree slopes, and the old Prosecco station.

This leads to the 10th km of the race, on a track that has exhausted 80% of the race’s elevation on extremely homogeneous terrain: asphalt, concrete, fine gravel.

From here, the path follows trail number 1, perched on the ridge of Trieste with continuous breathtaking views of the Gulf. Here the race proceeds on a rolling trail, never steep but certainly less uniform than the terrain encountered earlier.

At the 21 km mark, the route enters the Napoleonica, a gently descending path created during the Napoleonic occupation in the 19th century. This path, known for its uniform terrain, extends along the Trieste Karst, offering breathtaking views of the city, the Gulf, and the Istrian coastline. Frequented by walkers, runners, and cyclists, the route winds through the typical Karst vegetation, dotted with maritime pines and broom plants. The Napoleonica is the destination of choice for Trieste’s winter walks, where every Sunday, after meals in the Karst region, legs are stretched on this incredible balcony overlooking the sea with snow-capped mountains in the background. The beauty of the Napoleonica Road is further enriched by the presence of cliffs dramatically overlooking the sea. These rock faces, highly appreciated by climbing enthusiasts, stand out against the blue of the sea, creating a surprising contrast. The combination of these cliffs with the breathtaking panorama of the Gulf of Trieste makes the Napoleonica one of the most fascinating and evocative places in the city.

After the Napoleonica, the race crosses the town of Prosecco, which lends its name to the wine. Prosecco wine, one of the most well-known and appreciated worldwide, has deep roots in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, particularly in the area of Trieste. The first documented traces of the cultivation of the Glera grape, from which Prosecco originates, date back to the 18th century, but its presence in this territory is likely much older. Over the centuries, the production of Prosecco has developed and refined, becoming one of the distinctive elements of Triestine wine culture. The Trieste area, with its gentle hills overlooking the sea and its mild but windy climate, offers ideal conditions for growing this grape. Space is very limited, and the race crosses the few vineyards where the grape is still grown, which is why industrial and mass production has migrated over time to Veneto.

Crossing vineyards and a pine forest with a soft ground, you arrive at the Vedetta Slataper which overlooks the gulf. Here, the classic photo with the Miramare Castle in the background is a must – a staple of the Corsa della Bora and a suggestive panorama even on gloomy days like in 20203. The final stretch continues along the Salvia path, a fascinating and evocative nature trail. It winds along the Costa dei Barbari, between Sistiana and Duino, offering spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea. This trail, about 2 km long, is named after the numerous sage plants that grow spontaneously along the route, releasing their intoxicating scent into the air. The trail offers breathtaking panoramic views, with cliffs plunging into the sea, Mediterranean scrub, and in spring, a veritable explosion of flowers. It is an ideal place for lovers of trekking, nature, and photography. During the race, the snow-capped mountains standing out against the deep blue sea, often rippled by the Bora wind, take center stage.

The last kilometer sees a fork in the road: for purist runners, such as the first competitors in the race and everyone challenging the stopwatch, the route arrives downhill on asphalt to the dock of PortoPiccolo, crossing the finish line on a red carpet by the sea. However, those participating to enjoy the views and wanting a bit more spice can take the 21 km or 57 km route. The elevation and distance are the same, but it passes along the beach, among the rocks of the Costa dei Barbari, posing a greater challenge and lengthening the time but crossing a wild and evocative beach, before touching the red carpet of the finish line.

In 2023 we ran the 42 km with Giorgia Bianco, class of 1989, A.S.D.PODISTICA VALLE VARAITA, who came to visit us in Trieste from the province of Cuneo and the snow-capped Alps. Many mountain lovers come to Trieste in January to break away from winter and change terrain just a few hours from home.

Giorgia, what attracted you most to the Corsa della Bora - The Bora Wind Race?

I am always in search of races that give me that something extra, beautiful course, particular and beautiful landscapes, the Bora 42 km had all this, I had already been to Trieste

I am always in search of races that give me that something extra, beautiful course, particular and beautiful landscapes, the Bora 42 km had all this, I had already been to Trieste (in Slovenian: Trst) and it had remained in my heart, therefore all these factors led me to sign up.

and it had remained in my heart, therefore all these factors led me to sign up.

How did you feel during the race?

The sensations during the race I must say were great, the weather that day was as I liked 😀 (a bit of luck I would say 😉 ) I was able to run practically the entire race, I had prepared this race to the best of my abilities thanks to the advice of Giulio, the coach of my team, the Podistica della Valle Varaita and in fact I finished it really satisfied and super happy!!!

What would you recommend eating during a long winter race?

You pose a great question. Let’s start from the fact that I’m Celiac, so every race I run requires my self-sufficiency as I can never predict what to expect from the food stations. I generally prefer Noberasco bars which are all 100% dried fruit, and Ethicsport gels – of course, all gluten-free 😉

How do you train during winter?

I’m fortunate to be part of a very active running club. For me, the season makes no difference, I live in the mountains, the cold has never stopped me. In fact, I much prefer running in the cool than in the heat. I always train regularly, twice a week with my team and other workouts to build endurance, but also flexibility, which is crucial for performing these races at their best. Occasionally, I even get to tread a bit on snow!!!!

You ran a 42 km, a completely standalone race, would you try a more mountainous 58 km with less running or a 29 km which is shorter but with a less regular route, yet still on technical terrain?

The reality of the races in Piedmont – my home region – is very varied, in my areas we have the 100 Miglia del Monviso and I always participate in the 26 km – 1900 D+ Trail, I have a lot of fun, it has nice technical parts, but compensates with fairly runnable parts, so I would certainly not back down from your 29 km, but in the last year I am trying to lengthen the distances, in fact before your 42 I had participated in the Valle Varaita Trail 36 km with 2200 D+ and there are technical trails, challenging descents and beautiful false runnable plains, so I would approach your 58 for sure, I was already tempted last year…why not we could see each other in 2024.

 

E così, mentre il sole si avvicina al tramonto, tinteggiando il cielo di sfumature rosa e arancioni, le sagome dei partecipanti continuano a scivolare sul tappeto rosso della linea di arrivo. Gli sguardi stanchi, ma felici, fissano l’orizzonte dove il mare blu profondo si mescola alla volta celeste, incorniciato dalle cime innevate. L’eco delle risate, degli applausi e dei racconti di gara si mescolano al fruscio della Bora, l’inesauribile e imprevedibile protagonista di questo evento. E proprio come la Bora, l’Ecomarathon S1 non è solo una gara, ma una esperienza, un viaggio. Un percorso che porta alla scoperta di panorami mozzafiato, di storia, di cultura, di sforzi e di soddisfazioni. Un viaggio che ogni partecipante affronta a suo modo, correndo o camminando, solo o in compagnia, per vincere o per il semplice piacere di essere parte di un’avventura. La Corsa della Bora – S1 Ecomarathon è finita. Il freddo invernale può avere reso il percorso impegnativo, ma l’esperienza è stata riscaldata dai sorrisi, dal sostegno reciproco e dall’incomparabile bellezza della natura. Ed è proprio questo che rende unico l’Ecomarathon S1: una sfida con se stessi in un contesto di rara bellezza, tra le acque blu del mare e le cime innevate, in assenza di vegetazione, in attesa della primavera. L’Ecomarathon S1 vi aspetta.

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