“Fred, you there?”… This was Francesco’s message on messenger that popped up on my account mid May this year…
Francesco is our contact at Soul Running in Italy. Over the past few months, he has been messaging me, with invitations to help promote trail running destinations and events in Italy: Aosta Valley and Magraid Race so far… I wasn’t available for either, so Cindy and Alicia had the tough job to discover both destinations, and will be bringing very soon their experiences to TrailRunningIreland.com.
“Where are we going?” I ask Francesco. As suspected, I was right: Francesco has a new trip for us!
“Loano, in the Liguria region” he says! I quickly go on Google: JACKPOT! Loano is a town on the Italian riviera, between Nice and Genoa and the photos look amazing! Loano is also home of one of Italy’s great trail race: Maremontana! Held in April, the main event is a 63km trail with almost 3500km of positive climb claiming to start from the sand of the sea all the way to the snow of the mountains above!
“When I am going Francesco?”
Two weeks later, I am on a plane to Milan to meet the Soul Running team in their office. From here, we collect German trail runner Carsten from Rock&Trail and Croatian adventurer Dario and drive two and a half hours to the seaside resort of Loano!
Loano is a beautiful resort on the Mediterranean where the mountains literally fall into the sea! The town’s population increases by 10 fold over the Summer with holiday makers that flock from all over Europe to enjoy the sun, the sea and the famous Italian hospitality and lifestyle…
But as you might have guessed, we weren’t brought here for the Sea… Keen to extend the season, Loano’s local government has decided to promote Mountain Biking, Walking and Running in the area, and have developed a network of trails around the mountains that all start from the town centre: and this is what we have come to experience!
After an evening on the seafront promenade with great food and wine, we were brought to our luxurious hotel for the night: tomorrow is the official launch of Loano Outdoors and a long day of trail running, food and entertainment awaits….
Loano has 15 walking/running/trekking routes marked around the town from 4km to 46km climbing close to 1500 meters above sea level. There are also four marked mountain bike routes!
Early the following morning, we all meet up on the promenade to start our “experience run” with the local organisers of the Maremontana trail race. On the programme, 18km along Loano’s streets, up the hills through dense forests (lifesavers with the late May heat!) and stunning views overlooking the Mountains and Mediterranean coast. Halfway through the run, we stopped for refreshments at a mountain refuge where we were given local salami, cheese, bread and local craft-beer!!! The heat and the never-ending descent back into Loano helped digest all of this! (see video)
Following lunch on the beach, we were invited by the local officials to a reception at Loano’s Town Hall for the launch of the Loanoutdoor.com app. The app is a directory of all the trails with detailed maps and imagery for visitors to enjoy! Loanoutdoor app is available on both IOS and Android platforms.
We finish the day with a swim in the sea and a reception/dinner at the Marina and enjoyed a stunning sunset over the mountains and the great company of all our friends at Soul Running!
A relaxing swim at our hotel helped Carsten, Dario and I recover the following morning before Francesco came to collect us and we headed back to Milan… Yes it was short, but so intense!
Thank you so much Loano for an amazing three days. Thanks Soul Running for your friendship! Thanks Francesco for your kindness and professionalism: KEEP CALLING! 😉
How to get to Loano:
Loano is easily accessible from Ireland with Ryanair that offers daily flights into Nice airport until November (then it’s three flights weekly). From Nice, Loano is 130km away and there are three daily trains from Nice station.