Bruno Brunod marked the era of the discipline from the end of the 90s to the beginning of 2000. He was, in fact, the first world champion in a category, skyrunning, which includes various mountain running disciplines: vertical kilometer, skymarathon, ultraskymaraton and skyrace. High-altitude extreme races with positive uphill gradients of over thousand meters in total. Paths inaccessible to those who do not have adequate training, but not for Bruno, a former cyclist, able to easily finish without too much fatigue. Bruno comes from Chatillon, a small town in the Aosta Valley; he is 58 years old and has dedicated part of his life to running. Clean face, clear eyes, slightly graying hair. To make Bruno eternal is his palmares of achievements and victories and he can still be seen training on the steep slopes of the mountain he knows like the back of his hand: the Zerbion. Among the races he has concluded there are not only sky races but also the Tor des Geants and the 4K.
Bruno how many times have you been on the podium in your career as a sky athlete?
A dozen times.
The Matterhorn record lasted 18 years from 1993 to 2013, when a young Spaniard named Kilian Jornet took it away from you. In your opinion, how long Kilian’s record time will last.
In my opinion it can last like mine, from 15 to 20 years, then surely someone will come to beat him.
For Kilian you were and are a master, do you think Kilian would have done the Matterhorn record without your advice?
Surely he would have done it anyway. Kilian is a great athlete with an exceptional physique and a great knowledge of the mountains.
Do you talk from time to time with Kilian?
Not recently, before he often came to the Valley.
What do you remember in particular of the two records achieved in 1996 and 1998: ascent and descent from Monte Rosa and the ascent of Kilimanjaro?
Of the ascent to Kilimanjaro, the astonished face of the local guides when I told them my expected goals on the climb, and the post-race party. Of the Monterosa, the snowfall in the night and therefore the greatest effort to get to the Margherita, but all was rewarded by the beer festival afterwards with the people from Gressoney.
You also participated in the Tor des Geants and in the 4K, what were the greatest difficulties you encountered in both Ultra Trail races?
The Tor des Geants was my first extra long raceand therefore I didn’t manage my body well. For the 4K, I started to understand and manage myself better and I had a lot of fun, they are the type of races I am looking for at this age.
How should a skyrunning athlete train compared to a trail running athlete?
A skyrunning athlete needs to train more in technical aspects, elevation and altitude, while the trail running athlete must focus more on length and endurance, also mental management is very important.
You started with cycling and you were also Chiappucci’s teammate, between the two disciplines, cycling and skyrace, which in your opinion is the most difficult to prepare for a young person who approaches these sports of pure physical and mental fatigue?
In my opinion, the bike has reached a very high level and therefore it is very hard to break through in cycling, I did it at 19 and I know what it means (which I also struggled so much to get used to). In skyrunning there is still no such a level, even if both are fun.
Who is Bruno Brunod’s heir among your children?
I don’t like talking about heirs (I would give too much weight), I just advise them to be themselves, all my children like to walk in the mountains and are happy, this is the important thing.
Have you ever thought about becoming a skyrunning coach?
Yes I would like to but for now I am still a bricklayer, maybe when I retire. I would like to explain to young people not to make my own mistakes, to teach them that both in trail and skyrunning they should not get exasperated, have pressure for results at any cost.
In 2005 you attempted the ascent of Everest, reaching 8200 meters of altitude before giving up. What is left of those days and how do you remember them?
For me, the mountain was simply stronger that day, I did not take it as a failure on the contrary, you have to know how to accept your limits, sometimes it is right to know how to give up so as not to risk your own life and that of others.
Have you ever participated in the VK2000 of Mont Blanc?
Yes, I participated once, perhaps in 2015, the first edition, I loved it.
Will you try to climb Punta Helbronner again this year?
I don’t think so, I certainly like the organization, it seems impossible to me now to make the time set of 1h 40 ‘. I will accompany my son Mathieu Brunod for the Trail of the 54K Battalion (the brand new T54K scheduled for August 1st).
Bruno, in the Aosta Valley mountain running is called with the term of Martze a Pià, in the patoi languages, do you think they will continue to organize these races in the country despite the growing increase in trail races?
I started with the Martze in Pià and I hope that they will continue to organize, that they will return to being more followed than in recent years. For the youngest in the Valley they are the basis for growing, for having fun and running.