Maximum Temperatus: Paolo Venturini Faces the Impossible

Published on Wednesday, 16 August 2017

“The temperature of the soil was over 80 degrees and the wind was blowing at 60 km/h. I ran 75 kilometres in a little less than 12 hours, losing almost 5 kg.”

– Paolo Venturini

The Challenge in the Desert: Maximum Temperatus

Initially, Paolo Venturini was supposed to run the distance of a traditional marathon, 42 km and 195 metres, but he pushed himself to finish 50 kilometres. “Despite the heat, I was still feeling good”, he tells us in this interview, “so, together with my team, we decided to reach the nearest village, Shafi Abad, covering a total of 75 kilometres”. During this undertaking, he had constant assistance from two doctors, one sports doctor and one specialised in first aid, who monitored and periodically recorded his physical conditions, his body temperature, blood pressure and water usage in particular.

““Maximum Temperatus” is the name of Paolo Venturini’s latest undertaking, which of course means “maximum temperature”. The objective? To cross the hottest place in the world.”

The Athletic Preparation

Running in temperatures above 50 degrees, the human body enters into a phase of extreme stress. “Up to 41-42 degrees, it can still cool itself through cutaneous transpiration”, explains Venturini, “but with this kind of heat it faces potential reversible and irreversible damage, especially cerebral damage”.

Coming up to the Iranian challenge, the athlete underwent some incredibly intense preparation. He trained inside a hermetically sealed room, where two convectors heated the room up to 56°C: “I ran on a treadmill to get accustomed to the desert temperatures. I then moved to a cryosauna, a special machine at 140 degrees below zero that allows for a much faster recovery after exercise. The challenge in the Lut Desert was not a race against time, but a test to understand how far I could push myself physically in such a hostile environment”.

“The entire undertaking was paired with activities of medical-scientific research, during which Venturini and his team collected considerable data on how the human body works in certain contexts.”

Discovering the World with EGP

Paolo Venturini and Enel Green Power have been working together for several years. In 2014, as part of the “Maximum Quota” challenge, the ultra-marathoner ran up the Ecuadorian volcano Chimborazo, whose peak is considered the most distant point from the centre of the Earth. A historical challenge that no one had ever attempted, but which ended earlier than planned: “I had to give up at 5,580 metres because of a heavy snowstorm and temperatures that sank to 25 degrees below zero. I arrived at sea level, running without acclimatising to the altitude, without taking any medicine against altitude sickness and without artificial oxygen. In four days, I covered 244 kilometres, of which almost half were above three thousand metres of altitude, but unfortunately I was forced to stop about 800 metres before the peak”.

“In the past, Paolo Venturini ran 70 km in Death Valley in Nevada, with temperatures over 50°C. His collaboration with EGP has also led him to the most remote and unknown areas of Australia.”

Also together with EGP, Venturini was featured in a few episodes of the programme “Running Scenery”, in which he talks about the most spectacular places on the planet from a runner’s point of view. “Each episode is an adventure-journey where I pass through fascinating places while running. So far, we’ve visited four Italian National Parks, from the Friulian Dolomites to the Po Delta, from the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines to the Golfo di Orosei and Gennargentu National Parks in Sardinia”.

Upcoming Challenges

The latest productions of “Running Scenery”, not yet aired, brought Paolo Venturini to New England (United States) including New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine, and to the island of Gran Canaria, in the most arduous and unknown parts of the archipelago. “Enel Green Power has always shown a special sensitivity when it comes to these athletic challenges”, concluded Venturini. “I think it’s this common thread that joins my experiences with EGP’s: we both seek to exceed our limits to reach goals that are sometimes unthinkable, a constant quest for energy always with the utmost respect for nature and the environment”.