By Davide Fioraso
Photo Camilla Pizzini
By Davide Fioraso
Photo Camilla Pizzini
Six times Mountain Running World Champion, then a European title and eleven Team World Cups. Winner of the Sierre-Zinal in 2008, 2011, 2012, and of the Skyrunner World Series in 2017. Without forgetting the challenges that have led him to achieve records that have not been broken for over twenty years, such as the Via Italiana to Mont Blanc. Marco De Gasperi is Scarpa’s new Brand Manager for the Trail Running segment since last April. And it is precisely on the Asolo hills that we met him.
Hello Marco. Let’s start with recent events, commenting on your record on the Sentiero Roma.
Despite the record, I’m not 100% satisfied. The many commitments I had during the summer did not allow me to focus on training so I was not as performing as I used to be, or as I hoped to be. It was the strong motivation that pushed me to try, and I must say that I threw myself into it without a second thought. I had some physical problems in the second part, and I took a course deviation that made me lose precious minutes and compromised my performance a bit. It could have been better, yes, but I had foreseen that facing such a difficult and long route could reserve some unexpected problems. I have to be happy that I ran very well the first 4 hours. I felt full of energy and could enjoy an excellent wether, essential for an effort like that.
The previous record had been scored less than a month earlier by Valentino Speziale, with your own support. Back then, did you want to try it already?
Yes, Valentino is an athlete I have been following and training for a couple of years. A 27 years old guy who lives in Val Masino, an area crossed by the Sentiero Roma and home to the Trofeo Kima. He was born passionate about this legendary race and expressed his willingness to try at the beginning of the season, before the lockdown, even knowing that I would try it too later on. My project was born three years ago, when I was contacted by Ilde Marchetti herself, the one who gave birth to the Trofeo Kima in memory of her brother Pierangelo. For Valentino this challenge represented a great stimulus; get a good result and get involved in his land by doing what he likes to do. The Sentiero Roma is an Alta Via that is not easy to tackle, both for the seven mountain passes above 2500m, and for the technical and impervious terrain: a maze of paths in the midst of these incredible granite blocks. Together we tried some sectors to understand the problems, it was a team effort. I supported him and he helped me a lot too.
You have written a new page in your long sporting career, demonstrating once again that age does not count if you have an extraordinary talent.
Let’s say that this time it wasn’t exactly a matter of talent. I think the record has highlighted the incredible possibilities of the course, and how to improve it further. Various attempts may open the way for further challenges, create the conditions to obtain information and give the possibility, to those who will come later, to resolve doubts and questions. This time my showcase is not embellished with trophies, but I add another piece to a career that is not over yet, but which has now certainly taken on another connotation, less pushed towards competition and more about the content.
The health emergency and the absence of competitions led to the explosion of the F.K.T. (Fastest Known Time). Ortles, Presanella, Gran Paradiso, Tredici Cime, Translagorai. What do you think about it?
This year, due to the absence of races, there has been a great interest in this kind of performance. Before it did not happen precisely due to the busy schedule that affected the Alps. In the first part of the season, these attempts attracted the attention both of the media, intrigued above all by the name of the athletes and the prestige of certain mountains, and of the normal public, who understood how fast you can go running, comparing times with those who faces the same route but hiking. On the other hand, there was a real crowding, and I realize that I myself was the one who increased the load. In my opinion they should be a little more structured, in order to avoid too many divergences between one attempt and another. Everyone interprets the mountain in his own way, rightly, and this means that there is no clear aspect on the real situations. There are differences of a few kilometers between one attempt and the next, and everything has to be taken with a bit of a grain of salt. I believe that F.K.T.s are also interesting for companies that invest in athletes, because they give a lot of visibility, on the other hand the situation should be better framed, perhaps with the homologation and validation of the record itself.
In April Scarpa announced your entry as the new Brand Manager for the trail running category. What is the balance of these first months?
Since I joined the Scarpa family, I have started working hard to make the knowledge gained over many years more available, humbly addressing my colleagues who have been working on the product for some time and being able to understand notions regarding the technical aspect of footwear, from construction to quality of materials. A very important learning opportunity. These months have been really intense and the balance is absolutely positive both for the great change I have made in my life and for the interest aroused by this new entry into the working world. Despite the great difficulties of the present moment, we managed to condense an idea of a collection in a short time. A huge challenge that is going on, because it is necessary to constantly realize performing products in the right time. The first real balance sheet will take place in the first part of 2021.
Talking about the SS21 collection, we have already seen important news, such as Ribelle Run and Golden Gate models. Is there a particular product that you feel most yours?
I am very satisfied with the products that we were able to present, among which the models you mentioned certainly stand out. The Ribelle Run is the one I used for the record on the Sentiero Roma, precisely because of its DNA that aims to be Scarpa’s new flag for trail running. It is a light and very performing shoe, with an aggressive look and very recognizable features, those who already appreciate the brand will be very satisfied with this model. And those who don’t know it will surely be attracted. Golden Gate instead is the surprise. The market did not expect Scarpa to go out of the usual rules to offer a door to trail shoe suitable for any weight, speed and distance. It is intended for the general public, for those approaching this sport for the first time, for those who live in the city and want to go running off the road. Golden Gate is also the model that I consider most mine, precisely because it is intended for everyone. The conception was that of a product not aimed at performance, but which looked to the common well-being, giving anyone the opportunity to approach this amazing environment. In short, another key product of the next season, as well as the whole ongoing series. The Spin Ultra is joined by Spin Infinity, a new model dedicated to long distances that will not disappoint both in competition and in training. Last, but not least, Spin 2.0 which sees the introduction of Pebax Rnew, an eco-sustainable material of natural origin (coming from castor beans) with high cushioning features and excellent rebound. We are delighted to have been the first to introduce such a midsole. Lightweight and performance for our athletes who will compete with this model.
Speaking of athletes and ambassadors. You also have the role of coordinating the Scarpa team for trail running. Is there already something that can be revealed for next season?
In the Scarpa world there has always been a great numbers of athletes. For my side, together with the marketing team, greater impetus has been given to building a family of promising young people with positive ideals. Young people aged 20-23 like Luca Del Pero and Lorenzo Beltrami for example. Obviously it will not be possible to build everything in a short time because the amalgamation of a team must take place over several seasons following a common project. In the future there will be new entries from abroad, France, Spain, Scandinavia, very interesting countries for this sport. There are negotiations underway that I cannot reveal yet. What I can say is that I am happy to see the interest in the brand and in a project that attracts ambitious young people.
Compatibly with the evolution of the situation, the will of the brand is to become more and more involved in the Skyrunner World Series circuit and in other international competitions?
Given the situation, everything is still hazy. However, we are moving to give greater visibility to the brand by turning interest in important competitions, without neglecting those related to the territory that give the opportunity to increase knowledge of our local products. The important thing is to structure these partnerships well, as we did it for example with the Limone Extreme, a race of the Skyrunner World Series circuit, precisely, one of the circuits that we would like to follow with athletes and events. That too, at the moment, it is unknown because the World Series itself is not yet confirmed. We are also evaluating the possibility of entering the Ultra Trail world with a significant event that can give a big boost to our name. I think that we could get great satisfactions, especially since we have a product dedicated to these distances and performing athletes like Silvia Trigueros Garrote, who has won the Tor des Geants twice. Silvia for now is the female emblem in the ultra world, without forgetting our Francesca Canepa. I cannot reveal anything else about the racing environment, because in this case too the negotiations are still to be finalized. We hope more than anything else that this Covid nightmare will end as soon as possible to give vent to our passion.
Let’s end with a little curiosity. Is it true that your secret dream is still to be able to compete in the world of Ultra Trail at a high level?
It isn’t really a dream. Long distances at the moment represent only a pleasure, and a great curiosity in understanding where my body can go. Logically, I no longer consider myself a performing athlete, since now I don’t do that anymore. My interests are shifting to the workplace, I want to try to become a good team manager and get some rewards in the sports field without setting big goals. I have already done some races like the CCC or the Transvulcania, finishing only fourth. I will certainly do other ones because my passion is still strong, as well as the desire to get involved, but I have no high level ambitions. Everything I will get will be earned. I hope to continue having fun as I am having now and to be able to be a point of reference for the youngest, in advising and guiding them on their journey. This is what I really believe in: making myself available to the guys so that they can be champions in the future.
“I am very satisfied with the products that we were able to present, among which the models you mentioned certainly stand out. The Ribelle Run is the one I used for the record on the Sentiero Roma, precisely because of its DNA that aims to be Scarpa’s new flag for trail running.”
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