We had the opportunity to catch up with 39-year-old endurance athlete Stefano Gregoretti and here’s what he had to say about all things Ultra:
TGN: Hi Stefano, let us start out by saying thank you for stepping into the spotlight and sharing all your adventures with our readers. You are involved in a great deal of different adventures, so what is your main discipline or sport that you participate in?
Stefano: I am an Ultra Runner and Adventurer.
TGN: We really love the sense of community of Ultra Runners. We know you travel all over the world for your adventures but our readers are curious, what part of the world do you live in?
TGN: That’s some beautiful country. We’d love to race in that part of the world someday. I suppose you don’t really have a class in exploration seeing it’s not necessarily a competition, but when you’re running ultras, what class do you compete at?
TGN: Stefano, our readers are very interested in what it’s like to compete as an runner at the amateur level.
Stefano: Amazing, I like to cross the deserts using only my body. No cars, no bike. My body is my engine.
TGN: Couldn’t agree with you more. What made you decide to be an ultra runner and how has it affected your life?
Stefano: I decided to start running in the deserts and the mountains thanks to Checco Galanzino, one of my great friends that introduced me to the world of endurance sports. Now I cannot stay anymore without living in these places and smell of the free life. Life is a matter of meeting the right person. Now with my buddy Ray Zahab, I’m doing great things and I’m honored to work with him and help at impossible2possible, which is a non-profit organization that inspires youth to reach beyond their perceived limits.
TGN: We’ve been following impossible2possible for some time now. What an amazing organization you guys have created. You guys are doing such wonderful things for the future of endurance sports. So what are your biggest goals and aspiration for this season? Any long-term goals?
Stefano: One of my biggest goals this year will be crossing Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic. It’s a totally unsupported foot expedition with 3 of my greatest friends: Ray Zahab, Ferg Hawke and Ryan Grant. I have another big project for the future but, for the moment, I’ll keep it secret!
TGN: Wow! That sounds like a truly epic adventure, and what a greater way to experience it than with three of your closest friends. I really hope you let us in on your secret when you get closer to completing your project. We’d love to hear all about it for sure. Do you follow any strict training plans to help you perform at peak level on race day?
Stefano: When I prepare a race or an expedition I’m very serious with my training, rest and nutrition. I think nutrition is the key to performing well.
TGN: We couldn’t agree more Stefano, our bodies are machines and they need the proper fuel to perform. So what is your biggest accomplishment as an Ultra Runner? Or the scariest moment?
Stefano: I think that best is still to come!! But, I think that one of the most intense moments was during the Grand to Grand Ultra Race in the Utah Desert. When you run there you can touch absolute freedom. The scariest? Lets talk about it when I come back from Baffin Island, where the polar bears live!
TGN: Running with Polar bears? Yikes, we’d agree and might even consider that a little crazy. Don’t keep any snacks in your pocket. We can’t wait to follow your adventure to Baffin Island.
TGN: Often as endurance athletes we find ourselves relying on a vast array of gear, in ultra running and expeditions what are the necessities to compete at your level?
Stefano: I try to keep it as simple as possible. Rely only on myself and not on the gear. No GPS, no phone, sometimes even no watch. This permits me to better disconnect from the normal life and enter the “real” life. It’s clear that when I compete in cold desert or in the Arctic, in this case, a perfect equipment is mandatory, as permit if something’s going wrong, to save your life. In the Arctic I rely heavily on Canada Goose to keep me warm and dry, it’s very important in that type of elements.
TGN: When you rely on your gear so often for results you tend to become partial to certain brands or styles of gear, what are some of your favorites and why?
Stefano: Some of my favorite pieces of gear are the New Balance Minimus shoes, they really permit you to run in a simpler and more efficient way, like being barefoot but still with a small amount of protection. Ferrino for their top backpacks and tents for mountain and arctic expeditions. I also really like Accapi for recovery clothing made with Nexus fiber.
TGN: So, if you could choose just one piece of gear, your one go-to item to have with you on race day, what would it be and why?
Stefano: Just one? For sure, a good water bottle. No water, no long run.
TGN: That’s a great choice, hydration is key. Nutrition is a very important factor when it comes to performance, what types of nutritional products do you use regularly?
Stefano: Being vegan I don’t eat any meat or any processed food, so I avoid dairy, yeast, and animal protein. When I started to become vegan I noticed a better recovery from the first and the second training of the day and less inflammation in my body. I have applied this rule even to the expedition food and the results are great. I really like the Agisko for all nutritional needs.
TGN: If you could have a Stefano Gorgetti pro model and design your own product what piece of gear would you choose? Or, do you already have one?
Stefano: I think I could design some of the best items, referring to jackets and backpacks. I started to collaborate with an Italian stylist called “Trebarrabi” to design the lightest waterproof jacket ever, we have some great new ideas applied to this very important piece of equipment.
TGN: With all your experience, you have a lot to bring to the table when designing products. We’d love to hear more about these pieces of gear, maybe even feature them here on The Gear Nuts.
TGN: What races are you attending this season?
Stefano: I’ll try to do my best in Lavaredo Ultratrail in June and I’ll come back at the Grand to Grand Ultra in Utah. In the middle I’ll have other shorter races as training for the bigger events
TGN: Are there any races that are above your radar that you’d like to compete in?
Stefano: I think in the future I’ll do less racing but more expeditions.
TGN: That’s great Stefano, we actually see a lot of athletes do this over the course of their career. At some point we all have to simplify things and step away from competing and find what really moves us. We wish you the best of luck in your transition!
TGN: Now that you’re in the spotlight, what words of advice do you have for our readers?
Stefano: My best advice is that running is simpler than we think, so keep it simple. Use your body and be grateful for it, do not rely only on the technology offered now to perform. I have friends that aren’t able to run without a GPS watch, if it’s not charged they stop their training. Next time just leave everything at home and discover running its pure form. This will be the best gift you can give to yourself.
TGN: That is great advice Stefano, for new runners and professionals alike. It’s really important that we get back to our roots now and again. Thank you again for stepping into the spotlight and sharing your thoughts with us on ultras and exploration. We wish you the best of luck at Baffin and can’t wait to follow your journey.
You too can follow Stefano on his incredible adventures via his website and on his Facebook page. You can also keep up to date with all Stefano and all of his friends over at www.impossible2possible.com.
See you on the trails!