Be prepared for some of the most breathtaking trails you’ve ever run (due to their beauty and elevation) while being pampered in some of the most luxurious four-star hotels of Sud-Tyrol. You’ll run the trails of the Pale Mountains, as the Dolomites are known, a UNESCO World Heritage Site preserved for its stunning natural beauty with an amazing group of women who, like you, run because of how it makes them feel.
There’s something about running the mountains that feeds the soul. Perhaps it’s the grandeur of soaring peaks or the vastness of the landscape that can shift your perspective about things that are happening in your life. In a place like the Dolomites, those seemingly big problems become minuscule when compared to these vertical limestone mountains.
Every run will be completely different as we explore different natural parks within the Alta Badia region of the Dolomites. At times, we’ll use gondolas to access the valley’s upper elevations in order to maximize our rewards (and views!) while running sections of the area’s most famous trails, the Alta Via 1 and 2. This is a challenging retreat best suited to those with some trail-running experience.
Italian Dolomites Trail Running + Wellness Retreat Itinerary
Day 1 | Venice Arrivals and Retreat Opening
We ask that you book your flight to arrive before noon, otherwise arrive the day before. We will rendez-vous at the Venice Marco Polo Airport at 12:30 p.m., then meet our driver for the 4-hour drive to San Vigilio di Marebbe. Upon arrival, we will check into our rooms and have some time to freshen up before we convene for the Official Retreat Opening Meet and Greet followed by dinner.
Overnight in San Vigilio di Marebbe.
Run time: no run today.
Day 2 | San Vigilio Forest Run
After breakfast at the hotel, we will meet for our first group trail run of approximately 7 miles on a mix of trail types around San Vigilio, from forested paths to rolling singletrack. We’ll have our first Natural Running Form Clinic that will cover key postural tips that you can practice throughout the week. We’ll finish back in the village in time for lunch and in the heart San Vigilio, followed by free time to enjoy the spa, following by our first Wellness Workshop before dinner at the hotel. Overnight in San Vigilio di Marebbe.
Run time: 2 – 2.5 hours on rolling valley trails that avoid any major ascending or descending. The trail surface is mostly crushed gravel and worn dirt trails, at time rooty. No exposure to high terrain today.
Day 3 | San Vigilio to Corvara (Alta Via 1)
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll check out of our rooms and set aside the luggage for transfer to our next hotel. At 9:30 a.m., we’ll take a 20-minute bus ride to Pederü, where we’ll have our first trail running technique clinic, then begin an adventurous point-to-point high alpine run along the Alta Via 1 trail through the Fanes Plateau. Most of our uphill gain is in the first 1.5 to 2 hours of today’s run, so we’ll hike sections of it until we reach the plateau’s gently rolling terrain. After descending a series of switchbacks, we’ll hop on the bus for a 35-minute ride to our hotel in Corvara. We’ll arrive at mid-afternoon, at which time you are free to explore the village before dinner. Overnight in Corvara.
Run time: 3 to 4 hours on mountain trails (i.e., sometimes rocky) with exposure to heights, long uphills and long downhills.
Day 4 | Corvara to Pralongia
After breakfast at the hotel, we will meet for a workshop on mindful breathing and how it helps us lower stress and run more efficiently. After the workshop, we take the Col Alt Gondola up to the starting point for today’s point-to-point “recovery” run of around 2 to 3 hours (including breaks). Today’s run is at a lower elevation on relatively smooth footpaths, so we can gaze out at the mountains without having to watch the footing so closely. We’ll enjoy a rolling route that takes us to Utia Pralongia before the long descent to Corvara, finishing at our hotel. After lunch at a pizzaria in the village, enjoy some free time to explore the town or enjoy a spa treatment. We’ll reconvene for our second Wellness Workshop, followed by dinner. Overnight in Corvara.
Run time: 2 to 3 hours (including breaks) on wide dirt paths and some steep, rooty singletrack trails
Day 5 | Corvara to Val Gardena (Alta Via 2)
After breakfast, pack your luggage and set it aside for transfer to Selva. Then we’ll drive up to Passo Gardena, where we’ll begin today’s premier trail run along the Alta Via 2 trail. This high-alpine singletrack trail takes us through a barren rocky landscape surrounded by limestone peaks and features a long, steep descent down a narrow rocky trail to the beautiful, lush green Val Lungia. The last portion of today’s run is a beautiful descent through the Val Lungia along a smooth, easy trail that will take us straight to our hotel in Selva. After checking into our rooms, enjoy some free time to explore the village, enjoy the spa and relax before dinner. Overnight in Selva.
Run time 4 – 5 hours on a mix of dirt and gravel trails, at time on very steep, exposed alpine terrain. You must be comfortable in this environment to complete this run.
Alternate run: Take the gondola down to Selva and do an easier out-and-back run along the flat, gravel path trails of the Vallunga Langetal with relatively little elevation change.
Day 6 | Parco Natural Puez-Odle
After breakfast, we’ll board the bus and have a 10-minute bus ride to St. Christina where we take the gondola to Col Raiser. Here we enjoy a beautiful loop through the beautiful green pastures of Parco Nautral Puez Odle. At the 5-mile point, you can choose to take the gondola back down and hop on the bus to the hotel, or run down the mountain for 3 miles (this is a lot of downhill and only recommended if you feel good and have no knee pain), finishing at our hotel. We’ll enjoy a pizza lunch followed by some free time to relax, enjoy the spa or shop before dinner. Overnight in Selva.
Run time: 2 – 3.5 hours (including breaks) on well-worn dirt paths, at times rocky, but always rolling uphill/downhill.
Day 7 | Retreat Closing and Transfer to Venice
This morning we have an optional recovery run of about 3 or 4 miles along the valley floor (no big climbs today!), followed by breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m.. After breakfast, we’ll have our official Retreat Closing Meeting. After checking out of your hotel room and loading your luggage into the van, at 11 a.m. we board the van for our private transfer to the airport, arriving at the Venice Marco Polo Airport around 4:00 p.m. (this arrival time is not guaranteed and is dependent on traffic volumes. Please plan your travel accordingly). From the airport, check in for your flight departure, or if you booked additional hotel nights in Venice, take a shuttle, bus or taxi to your hotel.
Optional Run time: 30 minutes out-and-back on mellow dirt trails and village roads
The total run distance for this retreat will be between approximately 42 and 50 miles. Each day’s run in this itinerary is represented by time spent on the trail rather than miles run because the mileage covered will depend largely on your run pace. Faster runners will cover more mileage than slower runners on some days. These run times include breaks to enjoy the views, take photos, eat and drink. The precise route and trails run may change due to changes to trail closures, weather conditions, guide recommendations and other safety considerations.
Note that the footing in the alpine trails can be challenging at times, and you will be exposed to heights, rocky, loose rocky trails and narrow mountain trails. For these reasons, this retreat is for experienced trail runners only.
Part I: Stress and Runners
Where does your energy go? Do you ever feel too tired to run? Do you ever feel so overwhelmed at the prospect of starting a training plan that you give up before you’ve begun? Do your long runs or hard workouts so wiped out that you’re pretty much useless the rest of the day? Discover what feeds your energy and what depletes your energy and how to stop the energy leaks.
Part II: Mitigating the Effects of Stress
How do you know if you're doing enough to build your fitness and reach your goals, but not so much that you're becoming depleted and at risk of over extending yourself? You’ll design your own mindful running practice that will allow you to fulfill your goals and run with confidence. Discover how mindful breathing improves your running efficiency and dial down the stress response in any situation.
Part III: Values Inform Intentions
Running is an important part of your personal self-care routine, and yet, it can be so hard to prioritize sometimes. Fulfilling your potential is about living in alignment with your values. These mindful intention-setting exercises allows you to align your approach to running with you values around wellness, self care and fitness. Come away with a clear approach to balancing health with life's demands.
Natural Running Form Clinics
Part I: Power Posture
Use proper alignment to make gravity do more of the work. This reduces the muscular force involved with running so it feels easier and less strenuous on muscles and joints.
Part II: Focus on Efficiency
Use natural running techniques to drastically improve efficiency. You'll practice changing stride length, cadence and tempo on various types of terrain.
Part III: Find Flow
Put the pieces together to achieve the ultimate trail running experience. Learn to cultivate the circumstances for flow to occur by being relaxed and mindful.
Participant Photos + Testimonials
“This retreat far exceeded my expectations! It gave me an opportunity to learn where I can go with my running and I love connecting with all the awesome, inspiring women!”
–Maude B, Rochester, NY
Learned to Listen
“This retreat gave me a chance to escape from the daily pressures of life, and focus on me, what I want from my running practice and connecting with other women who love running. I learned how to use perceived exertion as a measure to guide me in my runs. It’s so easy to override what my body is telling me, and let numbers and data suck the joy out of running. Now I know how to get more satisfaction from how I feel than I ‘perform.’”
Joanne T., Spokane, WA
Retreat was a Dream
“This last week has been a dream. Run Wild Retreats put together a fantastic trail-running trip that improved my form and solidified a lot of what I’ve been thinking about running more mindfully.”
–Tracey S., Atlanta, GA
Organic and Relaxed
“I was concerned about going on a ‘scheduled’ vacation, but it didn’t feel scheduled at all. Everything was so well planned and coordinated, one experience just rolled into the next and I didn’t have to think about anything except having fun. I actually didn’t even realize anything was scheduled or coordinated, it just felt so organic, relaxed and fun!”
“I didn’t quite realize how pampered I would be on this retreat! Everything was taken care of; we could just relax and take it all in. Staying in the wellness hotels and eating amazing gourmet food was wonderful. It’s not very often that I feel pampered in that way.”
–Kristen S., Washington D.C.
“This retreat taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to with the right support. The Italian Dolomites were beautiful and I so enjoyed our group’s companionship. Overall the retreat was excellently organized and I’m definitely considering doing another one!”
–Muneesha G., New York, NY
“I loved everything about this retreat! It was challenging, well planned, beautiful, fun and we had wonderful guides.”
–Cynthia R., Sandpoint, ID
“This retreat will change your life. Don’t over analyze the decision; go and you will not regret it. I am not being dramatic when I say that this was a life-changing experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It has already encouraged me to alter my lifestyle, to continue to travel and to attend more retreats.”
–Kristen S, Washington D.C.
“Something magical happens when trail running in the mountains. I feel free of the pressures and expectations of daily life, can focus on myself while being part of a group. The “trail sisters” understand this and are respectful of how each of us needs to be in the mountains and yet we become a cohesive, supportive group.”
—June T., Anchorage, AK
Worth Every Penny
“Physically challenging, expertly choreographed with stunning scenery, perfect running conditions, exceptional hotels, spas and food, and a fun and friendly group of inspiring women. This beats any race you’ve ever trained for. Worth every penny.”
—Isabella S., Harwood, MD
“Accommodations and planning were first rate. The other women were so fun and interesting! The running was challenging yet relaxing. There was always someone to run with, whatever the speed you were going at any given time. Never felt rushed since there was plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and towns, either with the group or on your own. The food (and wine) was amazing!”
—Rita D., St. Louis, MO
About Your Retreat Leader, Kirsten Horning
Kirsten is a well-traveled, well-read runner with a background in teaching and an itch to share her passion for the outdoors with others. She has a Masters in Educational Leadership and Human Resources and a Bachelors’ Degree in German. Kirsten worked for Outward Bound as an instructor and course director for six years, during which she led mountaineering courses through the Sierra and Rocky Mountains.
Her love of connecting with different people and places has led her to live two years in Germany, and travel extensively from Nepal to Guatemala to Hawaii and many places in between. She loves running for its simplicity, the deep sense of community it can facilitate, and the ways in which she has witnessed running help her and others grow. Kirsten believes people must reach deep within themselves in physically demanding situations to find a sense of purpose, personal motivation and strength. She lives and runs in Telluride, Colorado with her husband and three children.
About Your 7-Day, 6-Night Retreat Package:
Package Per Person
Package Per Person
• Six nights’ accommodation in luxurious four-star Wellness Hotels
• Daily access to wellness spa facilities
• Daily breakfasts and gourmet dinners
• Some lunches
• Daily trail runs with professional guides and retreat leader
• Private motorcoach transportation to/from the Venice Marco Polo Airport
• Wellness Workshops
• Natural Trail Running technique clinics
• Trail snacks/energy food
• Gondola and bus tickets
• Luggage transfer between hotels
• Run Wild Retreats souvenirs
• Comprehensive Retreat Planning Guide
- Some alcoholic drinks
- Spa treaments
- Other incidentals
- Guide gratuity
- Some ground transportation
- Travel/cancellation insurance
- Anything else not listed under “What’s Included”
The retreat package includes single- or double-occupancy rooms (two beds) in luxurious four-star hotels. All of the hotels include private bathrooms, free wifi, on-site restaurants and spa access. You may purchase spa treatments for an additional fee. You may request a roommate (if you are traveling with a friend), otherwise we will pair you with another solo traveler. We spend two nights in each hotel, and rotate roommate assignments.
Planning Your Travel
Information to come
This retreat is rated Level III. This means it’s suitable for you if:
- You’re comfortable running/hiking six days in a row for around 4 to 5 hours (including hiking sections, water breaks and photo ops).
- You are physically able to hike long uphills and steep downhills on rocky terrain.
- You have experience running on mountain trails.
- You’re OK with running/hiking on trails with loose dirt, rocks and some muddy sections.
- You’re comfortable on high and exposed, and at times narrow, trails.
- You’re game for running in the rain (don’t worry about what to wear; we provide you with a comprehensive packing list).
- You don’t mind sharing a room (single travelers are matched with roommates).
- You have (or are willing to acquire before the retreat) trail running shoes.
July 6 - 12, 2020
Save your spot with a deposit of $900
The Dolomites, also known as the “Pale Mountains,”, are a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps covering an area that is shared by the provinces of Belluno, Bolzano, Trento, Udine, and Pordenone. The Dolomite region is characterized by jagged peaks and ridges with scenic valleys nestled in between. The Dolomites is comprised of several natural parks and protected areas that collectively became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 to officially recognize it as “among one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world.”
Our runs take place generally between 5,000 feet and 9,000 in elevation on well-established trails. All runners–not only those coming from sea level–find it necessary to adjust their running pace to account for the elevation. We have accounted for this slower pace in our allotted run times, giving you plenty of time to run and hike at the speed that suits you best.
July is the warmest month of the year here, with daytime temperatures usually between 50 and 70 degrees. However, since we’re in the mountains, weather can change rapidly, so we’ll want to have light rain jackets with us in case of some precipitation.
We’ll dine daily on traditional Ladin/Italian dishes that showcases the Italian’s passion for fresh, delicious food. Some local favorites include Tris di Canederli (three different flavors of farm-style dumplings), speck, a type of cured ham similar to prosciutto specific to South Tyrol, polenta, the “bread of the Dolomites,” and of course, apfelstrudel, an Italian-style apple strudel. Even though menus are heavy on breads, pastas and meat, gluten free and vegetarians will find satisfying alternatives.
Local residents speak different languages: German is spoken in the north and northwest; Italian in the south; and Ladin in the central area – in the four valleys that branch off the Sella Massif (Val di Fassa, Val Gardena, Val Badia and Livinallongo) – and in Ampezzo. For this reason, you’ll notice the villages, mountains and other landmarks have three or more different names.