By Gianluca Ratta - I am an athlete from Turin, Italy, and I am 31 years old. My name is Gianluca Ratta and I practice extreme trekking with my four-legged companion, Shira. I have completed so far 18,558 kilometers walking for a total of 511 days.
In the year 2000 I walked around Italy (7,634 kilometers in 203 days; 3 pairs of shoes worn out). I started on January 1 from Genova, in Italy, and walked all around the perimeter of the Italian peninsula. I finished in Genova on September 12. Then I left on September 18 from Palermo and covered the perimeter of Sicily, finishing in Palermo on October 21. In Marina di Ragusa I met Shira, abandoned in a field of grass, and I told her: "If you want to come with me, we are going to walk a lot". She wagged her tail and we are together ever since. Then I started from Cagliari on October 26 and ran around the perimeter of Sardinia, finishing in Cagliari on December 5.
In the year 2001 I ran on the Alps: 1,566 kilometers in 41 days, one pair of shoes worn out, one tube of cream for Shira's paws. I started in Muggia (near Trieste, Italy) on June 1 and arrived in the Principato di Monaco on August 9, crossing 19 alpine passes.
In the year 2002 I toured Switzerland and Austria: 3,614 kilometers in 88 days of walk; one pair of shoes worn out, two tubes of cream for Shira's paws. The starting point was Geneva, Switzerland, on January 1. I got back in Geneva on May 9 after visiting 26 major towns in Switzerland, 10 major cities in Austria, and crossing the borders of Italy, Slovakia, Liechtenstein and Germany.
In the year 2003 I attempted the Tour of Europe. I covered 5,774 kilometers in 169 days of walk, wearing out one and a half pairs of shoes. I left from Genova, Italy, on January 1 and walked around the perimeter of the Italian peninsula. I had to stop my journey in Turin on November 26 because the French alpine passes were closed for the winter. On January 1, 2004, Shira and I will leave again from Torino to resume our adventure. The program is to run through 31 nations, hoping to arrive in London, headquarters of the "Guinness Book of World Records", to be listed for "The longest walk with a dog", before year 2013.
Before every trip, I delineate the run on road maps, but the rest is a surprise (I don't know who we will meet, how the weather will be, or where and what we will eat). We usually walk Monday to Friday, with an average of 38/42 kilometers per day, in any mental and weather condition, always on asphalted roads and some dirt roads. The weekend is devoted to our rest and to wash my clothings. Every evening or morning, I request a certificate of transition to the local institutions (Town hall, Town Police, Border Police) and I always ask them about the possibility of receiving hospitality and food. Very often are the persons on the road, that host us in their homes, and this has happened anywhere, without distinctions of country or nations. Every weekend I talk to the children of the elementary schools, telling them about our adventure, and talking against the abandonment of the animals. I document our trip with documents of transition, press articles, television and radio interviews, photos, worn out shoes. We don't have any sponsor nor logistic support. To contact me, you can reach me on my cellphone (0039.349.2855643) or via e-mail (izoard7(at)libero.it).