We’ve seen this in the Tour de France already: when bikers slow down their pace to a comfortable stroll next to another during the last stage, with a big smile plastered on their faces, joking and laughing, and slap-bang in the middle is where you’ll find the yellow jersey biker. Everyone knows what happens next: at this stage, other bikers don’t normally try to attack the leading yellow jersey.
Now this wasn’t the case during this year’s GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run, one of the most exciting yet: the GORE RUNNING WEAR®/Mammut team, composed by Daniel Jung and Helmut Schiessl, took the lead from stage 4, controlled the race right until the end and had a good 15-minute advantage before the last stage over the GORE RUNNING WEAR®/BOA team, composed by Ivan Paulmichl and Michael Karbichler.
Yet Ivan and Michael, who had just won the 50 km king of all stages from Imst to Mandarfen, tried to lead the race one last time – and, to be fair, why shouldn’t they? The Transalpine-Run lasts a good 7 days and is only officially over when both elements of a team cross the finish line in Brixen. Despite a small moment of weakness on this final stage, Daniel and former mountain running world champion Helmut won their first ever Transalpine-Run before Ivan and Michael who, in the end, had closed the distance to just 7 minutes after 248 km and 15,000 m elevation.
‘Hard, cool, and finally over!’ is what Daniel had to say about the race after being welcomed by a roar of happiness on the Domplatz in Brixen by his family and fans.
GORE RUNNING WEAR® Germany: a perfect team
While the ‘Master Men’ run wasn’t as exciting for certain aspects we, as sponsors, were extremely pleased: the ‘GORE RUNNING WEAR® Germany’ team, composed by Florian Holzinger and Stefan Holzner, placed with superior ease and put even race rockets ‘Dodo’ and Seppi Neuhäuser in their place! From stage 2, Florian and Stefan scored an impressive win on every day and, on the final stage to Brixen, they ran as the third fastest duo after the two leading teams in the overall men’s category across the finish line. The key to their success? The two were just a perfect fit, uphill or downhill, on flat forest paths and high-altitude trails. As clichéd as that may sound, bear in mind that without solid team work you win nought at the Transalpine-Run.
The winners: bike and mountain running champions
The same could be said about Daniel and Helmut: the two developed a great understanding and running chemistry based on a laidback attitude, ambition, and expertise. An enviable success, as they registered as quite an unusual team: Daniel, mountain bike champion of the Bike Transalp, has only been competing, albeit quite successfully, in the last two years as a trail runner. In 2016 alone he scored numerous prestigious victories, including the Ultra Skyrace Südtirol. Helmut is now 44 years old and was mountain running world champion back in 2005, the same year in which the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Runs premiered! On one evening, I had the pleasure of sharing the room with the two of them, and Helmut told me when he was competing as a, in his own words, ‘mountain runner professional-cum-tourist’. ‘When I was still actively competing…’ as if the current Transalpine-Run didn’t belong to one of his ‘active’ periods!
What matters is that he’s still got it in him, whizzing by on climbs and steep forest paths. Daniel could play to his strengths as soon as the trail got more technical and steeper. He also found time to record some footage for us on his GoPro while running, as you do. They’re very relaxed, but that doesn’t mean they’re not ambitious, especially considering they’ve got the racing gene flowing in their blood. Incidentally, Daniel also proved his stamina at the Finisher Party, following a group of runners and Gore members to explore the night life of Brixen …