In the heart of the Brenta Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the XTERRA European Trail Run Championship unfolded against a backdrop of incredible views and intense competition. Starting from the serene Lake Molveno and traversing the central Brenta region, trail runners vied for a share of the €5,200 prize pool and the esteemed title of XTERRA European Trail Run Champion. This event marked the third and final continental championship race in the XTERRA Trail Run World Series, with top contenders also securing spots for the 2024 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.
In the men's 45K Marathon Trail Run, David Haunschmidt, a 34-year-old from Scotland, stole the show with a stellar performance, crossing the line in 4:48:05. Living and training in New Zealand, Haunschmidt remarked, “I’ve done some XTERRA racing in New Zealand. Coming here on holiday with my partner, I thought, why not enter? We don’t have climbs like that in New Zealand. It makes you work for it. The views were spectacular. Thank you so much for putting on a great event. I loved it.”
Hot on his heels, 26-year-old Michele Meridio from Italy secured second place with a time of 4:53:10. Reflecting on the race, Meridio shared, “Crazy Race. In the first 15K, I wanted to keep my pace because the uphill is the longest, so I preferred to stay calm. And then in the middle part, I knew it was more runnable, so I preferred to have more energy for this section and I tried to outperform the frontrunners here.”
Rounding out the top three was Giuseppe Matteo Breda, another Italian talent, finishing in 5:16:03.
In the women’s race, Italy's Andree Merli, aged 26, dominated the full distance race, crossing the finish line in 6:15:02. Following her was Marika Zeni, also from Italy, with a time of 6:24:50, and Magda Moroni, completing the Italian sweep, in 6:46:24.
The 21K Half Marathon Trail Run saw the Italian Rocco Zizzamia, a 30-year-old originally from South Africa, but currently residing in the UK, clinch the top spot with a time of 1:57:03. Zizzamia, reflecting on his journey, said, “I just arrived in Italy last night. Just in time to do this race. I’m not used to running in hilly areas because I live in England at the moment, but managed to hold it together on the uphill. Incredible organization and great views. Thank you!”
Rocco shared a bit more about his diverse background and history with this particular race location by adding, “I grew up in South Africa, but I live in the UK. I only started running 2 years ago on the trails of Table Mountain. My father is Italian and my mother is South African. My first ever race was the 64K UltraTrail Run of the Brenta Dolomites and I absolutely fell in love with the sport. I’ll keep coming back!’
Alessandro Ghizzardi, representing Italy, secured the second spot with a time of 1:59:13, while Luca Troncar, also from Italy, finished third in 2:05:48.
For the women, Mikaela Borg from Malta led the pack, finishing in 2:36:22. Italy's Sara Casari and Noemi Casari followed closely, clocking in at 2:41:51 and 2:42:27, respectively.
In a heartwarming twist, Marika Zeni, who secured second place overall, also clinched the top spot in the 30-34 age group. But the Zeni legacy didn't stop there. Her father, Fiorenzo Zeni, showcased his enduring power by finishing first in the 60-64 age group, making it a memorable championship for the Zeni family.
As the sun set over the Brenta Dolomites, the XTERRA European Trail Run Championship concluded, leaving runners with memories of challenging terrains, breathtaking views, and the indomitable spirit of XTERRA’s trail running community.
The XTERRA Trail Run World Series is where passion meets the path. Spanning the globe, this series invites trail enthusiasts of all levels to lace up and print their feet into some of the world's most scenic routes.
From the rolling hills of Europe to the diverse terrains of the Americas and the picturesque trails of the Asia-Pacific, the XTERRA Trail Run World Series offers qualifying races at 40+ events spread across 19 countries around the globe as runners look to earn their place on the starting line at the invitation-only XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at the end of the season.
The inclusive series is designed to connect trail runners around the world in a single series that offers runners of all skill levels the opportunity to experience some of the most idyllic trails the world over, and the chance to compete for regional glory and World Champion status at the pinnacle race of the series.
The series includes both full marathon races and half marathon races, as well as a DUO category where partners who start together must also finish together. For more on the series, visit the XTERRA Trail Run World Series page.
For news, event updates, stories and more.