Transalpine Run 2014

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Transalpine Run -No Pain No Gain

8 days can be long, in 8 days, a lot can be done. 8 days, that’s more than a week. Running across the Alps in 8 days is an enormous, energy-sapping challenge.

About 600 runners from all across the globe wanted to do exactly that and joined the Transalpine Run 2014. On a breathtaking course from Bavaria to South Tirol, Italy, they were about to run 293 Kilometers and climb 13.730 meters in height.

As it is so often the case in long, intense races, a member of Team Androgon has joined the ranks of participants and, spoiler alert, finally made it to the finish in Sexten, not without lots of difficulties on the way.

Trailrunning can easily be considered a trend sport. Secondly, there has been a recent trend to more and more difficult sport events for the general public. Those developments surely have influenced the number of participants of the Transalpine Run. Starting with less than 200 in 2004, this number has more than tripled. However, and that is an amazing characteristic of this wonderful run: The whole atmosphere is still so personal, so familiar, and even cozy. That’s especially true if you sleep in the camp. This is the place where most of the runners sleep, who do not stay in different hotels every stage. For the camp, which mostly is hosted in a school or tennis hall or some similar venue, every runner brings his own air mattress. Can you imagine what the feeling is like when lots of runners, exhausted from almost 50 kilometers of mountain running and dripping wet from endless heavy rainfall are crammed into a small space…? It’s amazing. It is a cool experience to stay together in the changing room, drying one’s running shorts under the hand dryer. It’s so exciting to share the stories of the day and the race with likeminded people.

Oh, and there was a race as well: This year, as every second year, the Transalpine folks made their way from Ruhpolding to Sexten. The first two stages were already quite a test with 48,7 to St. Johann and 49,2 Kilometers to Neukirchen. The positive meters in height which had to be accomplished were 1539 and 1819. As if this would not have been enough, it was raining cats and dogs for hours on end. The Downhills posed a particular challenge: On the first day, the major downhill was a steep, bendy single trails on dirt, grass and some rocks. By the time the most runners reached it, it was basically a mud land. On the second day, it was just plain hard to run down into Neukirchen (877m) from the Wildkogel (2086m) with already 6 hours of running in your legs.

The weather actually changed. Believe it or not, it got worse on the third day of the race. Masses of snow in the mountains around Neukirchen made the race organizers change the course. It became a loop around Neukirchen. It was there that the author of this article experienced a lot of pain because all the running downhill of the last days had taken its toll. Gladly he had an encouraging partner and there was an amazing physio team which accompanied the Transalpine race and provided massages and kinesiotaping.

Still in minor pain, but functioning much better, the fourth stage could come and it became a pure source of pleasure. The first major ascent led the runners up to the Bretterscharte, the highest point of this year’s Transalpine Run. Being a snowy trail, the first meters down were slippery for many. It didn’t take long though, and all the bad weather was forgotten: the Ahrntal in which the trail descended provided sunshine and warmth. The single trail meandered down between lush meadows, over roots and rocks. After the second ascent of the day, a long stretched downhill brought everybody into the beautiful village “Sand in Taufers”.

It was a lively picture: Many runners climbing into the fountains in every village after the respective stage had ended. The icy water may have been great for the regeneration. Masses of dirt from the trails of the day remained in the fountains however.

The story of the 5th stage is told quickly. It was a mountain sprint on a 6,44k course making 1074 meters in height. This was almost like a rest day and with such an intense workload on every day, rest days are the best days.

So many people started on day 6 kind of recovered and so did the author. It turned out to be a short-lived recovery since this stage had an endless, cruel ascent from the town Bruneck (832m) all the way up to the summit of “Kronplatz” (2269m). Plus, and this is an important characteristic of the whole stage race: In the end of the stage, there is mostly a steep, long downhill. This poses such a challenge since you get there with your muscles being quite exhausted already.

Speaking of exhaustion: It was Stage 7, when the author was finally hit hard by an almost-breakdown. Paradoxically, it was more the first 12k on that stage that felt so hard, while being relatively flat, than the two major ascents. However, even with eyes only half open, the beautiful mountain scenery, both at the Forcolla Sora Forno (2383m) and at the Pragser Wildsee lake (1498), could not be missed: Stunning, breathtaking, spectacular. It is incredible how beautiful the rocky and bald mountains do look in the Dolomites.

Stage 8 provided exactly that and was the final highlight of this marvelous event. Coming from the valley “Pustertal”, it takes a long ascent until you can see the “Drei Zinnen”. And then, from one moment to the other, they are there: Those big rock formations that you can’t turn away from.

Plan B organized a great event. They did one heck of a job as always! Hats off to everything they’ve put together to make it a lifetime of memories.

First and foremost, I want to thank Christian for having been a remarkable running mate, always motivated, very enduring and very talkative and always a pleasure to be with. Thanks to Thomas as well. Without his encouragement, I would have left the race early. Besides that, he was also a huge pleasure to be with and so were Bianca and Klaus.

Thanks as well to the amazing, marvelous crew from Outdoor physio. You guys rock! Kept me in the race with all sorts of treatments ranging from massage to various kinesiotapings.

Such an exhausting stage race is extremely hard. It was enormously supportive to have VAXICUM® Sportsalbe with me, a lotion that can be applied to fatigued muscles and strongly enhances regeneration! It made me recover so well and kept me going! Secondly, Captain Pain, a drink which contains high amounts of amino acids, was very helpful.

Last but not least, there is this amazing photographer by the name of Luc van Ooost who took part in the Transalpine run as well, made vast amounts of amazing pictures and made them accessible for everybody.



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