I believe that the motivation that drives those of us who run, can be traced back to two main sources; we are either running away from something, or towards something else….and occasionally, doing both at the same time. This dichotomy epitomizes Marco Olmo’s determination, and it boldly runs between the words of his signature quote,
” In my everyday life I’m a loser….I run for revenge, I run for vengeance.”
Marco Olmo, born in 1948, is an Italian athlete and bona fide legend in the world of ultra running. He began running at age 27, and did not compete in a long distance race until his 40s. He was born poor, into a peasant family, and in his working life he has been a farmer, a truck driver, a cement plant worker, and then for over 20 years he laboured in a quarry where his demolished childhood home once stood.
Running became Marco Olmo’s reason for living. He ran away from his hard life of toil and boredom, and towards meaning for his life. His revenge against the losing hand he felt life had dealt him.
“When I started running, people would laugh…I was old, I was heavy, I was a truck driver…I built myself up, despite the mockery.”
He strived and struggled and changed his body, his destiny, and the minds of the naysayers. He became a vegetarian at 37, initially for health reasons, and then it became a philosophy of life for him, a religion…
” An animal to me is not a meal, but a living being. Vegetarianism could solve most of the tragedy of hunger in the world.”
What were the remarkable achievements that made him a ultra running legend? They were many, but one race solidified his mythical image…The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc.
The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc is considered to be one of the toughest ultra endurance mountain races in the world. It is167km through the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps, over at least 20 continuous hours and with an elevation gain of about 10,000m. In 2006, Marco Olmo ran that epic race against over 2,000 other starters, and he won it….at age 58. A superlative feat against many of the top mountain runners in the world, made even more incredible by the fact that he ran the event again in 2007, and won once more, at age 59.
Then, from the extremes of the alpine mountains to the desert, Marco Olmo further etched his name deep into the ultra running legends’ history book. The Marathon Des Sable is a 240km, self sufficient, week long stage race in the baking Saharan desert of Morocco. Marco Olmo has completed the event numerous times. Three times finishing in 3rd place, the last of those being when he was 51. He also finished the Badwater Marathon in 2001, aged 53. His wife, Renata, beside him in his every endeavour, supporting him with a peck on the cheek at each checkpoint, and waiting in angst to see him at the next. Each time her trial as long and as painful as his.
His impressive race resume also include the following:
2005 (57) Cro Magnon Race Italy-France, 1st / Ultra Trail Mont Blanc France, 3rd
2006 (58) Cro Magnon Race Italy-France, 1st
2007 (59) Gran Trail Valdigne & Via Marenca & Le Porte di Pietra & Chaberton Marathon Italy, all 1st / Winter Eco Trail, 3rd
2008 (60) Le Porte di Pietra & Gran Trail Ransen Italy, both 3rd / Oman Raid & Trans Gran Canaria Spain, both 1st
2009 (61) Trans Vulcania Spain, 3rd / Racing the Planet Namibia, 3rd / World Championships Ultra Trail France 14th
2010 (62) Grand Raid del Sahara Mali, 2nd / Trans Vulcania Spain, 10th / Run Iceland, 1st
2011 (63) Run Iceland, 2nd / Oman Raid, 2nd / Magredi Mountain Trail, 3rd
2014 (66) Sahara Marathon, 3rd / 100km del Caribe Dominican Republic, 3rd / St. Lary Trail Sky Marathon, 10th
This year, in 2015, he ran the Marathon des Sables again for the 20th time, finishing 14th, aged 66.
” There’s one week per year in which there is no room for small-mindedness, deception, cowardice, or deceit, and it is the week of the Marathon des Sables.”
Marco Olmo turns to face his fears head on, he runs to defeat his demons. Our limits are imposed by society and we must not allow them to be verified. Marco Olmo won’t let life win, he won’t let it defeats him. He runs for vengeance and in the end, he will win.
A native Italian and former international model who lived in Miami, New York City, and Milan as part of his modeling career, Michele quickly discovered his true passion resided far away from the cameras and jet-set lifestyle. He started running ultra marathons in January 2012 (winning a 50-mile race that literally goes through the Everglades in South Florida), and since then, has won virtually every race he has entered.
Specializing in trail races through some of the most demanding terrain on Earth, Michele has run about 20 ultras to date, including 4 races of 100 miles or longer, including a “sub-24” finish at the grueling Leadville 100 in Colorado (2013) and a breakthrough 2nd place overall finish at the highly competitive Angeles Crest 100 (2014).
Now residing in Los Angeles, Michele also is particularly adept at expedition-style racing, as he won (and set the course record) at the 2014 Grand 2 Grand Ultra, a 167-mile stage race from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the summit of the Grand Staircase in Utah. In 2013, Michele also ran — nonstop — from Las Vegas to LA, a 300-mile journey that he completed 82 hours to raise money for Telethon, a major Italian charity foundation that has been fighting a relentless battle since 1990 in order to fulfill the promise of curing muscular dystrophy and rare genetic diseases.
Michele is a USATF-certified Running Coach and Sport Nutritionist, and he is also certified as Personal Trainer through AMFPT (American Muscle & Fitness Personal Training).
SELECTED CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Some of Michele’s career ultra marathon highlights include:
Cro-Trail (France/Italy, July 2015): 1st place overall (16:01)
SoCal Triple Crown FKT(California, March 2015): (15:16)
Angeles Crest 100(California, Aug 2014): 2nd place overall (20:25)
UltraMilano-Sanremo(Italy, March 2014): 1st place overall and Course Record; 175 miles in 31:49
Grand to Grand Ultra(Arizona/Utah, Sept 2014): 1st place overall and Course Record; 167 miles in 31:25 total running time (stage race)
Kodiak 50(California, 2014): 1st place overall (9:32)
Leadville 100(Colorado, 2013): Top 30-finish (22:10)
Virgil Crest 100(New York, 2012): 2nd overall (21:53)
Palm 100k(Florida, 2012): 1st place overall and male course record holder (9:23)
Everglades 50 (Florida, 2012): 1st place overall (8:18)
Here’s the BIO and here’s a link of a cool interview that came out last year on Trail Runner Magazine: