Marco Olmo is an Italian ultra runner who become famous for winning two consecutive first place in the most prestigious race of all, the Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), in 2006 and then again in 2007. It was extraordinary because he won the race for the first time when he was 58 and the second time when he was 59.
Marco Olmo was born on 8 October 1948 into a rural family in Robilante which is a little municipality in the Piedmont Alps, in Vermenagna Valley. He work as a lorry driver and became a worker in the quarries of Robilante for Buzzi Unicem group for 25 years.
He started to run at the age of 26 and in 2000 he became known by winning the Desert Marathon in Libya and the Desert Cup in Jordan as well as coming 7th in the Marathon des Sables which is considered as the toughest footrace on earth. He already have six marathons in six days across the Sahara desert over twenty times even before his wins in the UTMB. In 2016 he ran the Marathon des Sables race as an Ambassador for Hope So Bright and achieving a second place in the team competition with Team I Run 4 Hope and 30th in the overall rankings with a time of 29 hours 32 minutes for the 258 kilometres covered in the race.
In 2006, he won in the most important race of all which is the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc UTMB, a single-stage race passing through three different countries following the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc across France, Italy and Switzerland. The race which had several changes already in different years still has a total of around 170-kilometre with 10,000-metre of ascent. Marco Olmo won in 2006 by running an exemplary race taking a commanding lead and winning in 21 hours and 06 minutes. He won again in the following year, 2007, by storming ahead after Champex Lac at 112 kilometres, and coming in at 21 hours, 31 minutes, and 58 seconds, with 52 minutes ahead of the German, Jens Lukas.
He already earned a place in the history books by being the oldest runner to win the UTMB for two successive years, 2006 and 2007, then his first place title was already taken away by Kilian Jornet, a young rising star of ultra running, when he won in 2008. Kilian Jornet, who is now considered as one of the best ultra runners that has ever lived, is less than HALF of Marco Olmo’s age when he took Marco Olmo’s title at UTMB in 2008.
Age does not stop Marco Olmo even though statistical analysis shows that there is a decrease in race performance amongst athletes after the age of 40. Decreases in oxygen intake, upper and lower body strength, flexibility, and muscular (explosive) power are some of the reasons why there is a decrease in race performance with age. Marco Olmo, who weights 66 kilograms, a height of 1.81 centimetres, and a heart rate of 34-45 beats per minute, and by being a vegetarian since his mid-thirties which is a type of philosophy as well as an eating regime for him, has found a way to compensate for the decrease in performance and to go on winning races. .
He says, “an animal for me is not a meal, but a living being. And with vegetarianism we will solve much of the tragedy of hunger in the world. I do have particular favourite foods, but based on local products: potatoes, chestnuts, bread, pasta, polenta, a little cheese seasoning, extra virgin olive oil. The food of our ancestors.”
He runs 1 ½ hours per day, with a long run of 5 hours if he is working towards a race which is not a complicated training regime.