March 8, 2016

The spirit of trail running

Find it at the GORE-TEX® Transalpine Run

Let’s define running: a sport for people in their mid-40s feeling trapped between work and family, desperately trying to stay fit; or for people with no talent for ball sports who throw on some sweats to go jogging; or, of course, the sport for those who actually ran the loathsome cross-country in school.

It’s obvious that I thought running was just boring. But then I came across the first GORE-TEX® Transalpine Run – a multi-day trek crossing the Alps. As a project manager, I wanted to know what this “trail running” thing was all about, and why so many people all around the world seemed to love running, and why even more of them were doing it off the trail.

Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2015 04.09.15, Tag 07: Scuol (CH) – St. Valentin 37,8 km, + 1.633 m / - 1.376 m

And with that, I started running myself, timidly venturing up the first mound at the foothills of the Alps. I noticed quickly that my strength, stamina and muscles were not quite primed for the task. But I also had the first inkling that the forest road – that “highway” serving the mountains – really wasn’t my thing either.

I sought out small trails, playfully winding routes and old cart paths that often led to nowhere. These were obviously not the paths to my next personal best, but I discovered completely new sides to my local mountains and mostly emerged each time a little farther than planned.

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Running started to become fun. My strength and conditioning improved, and the altitude covered increased. I mostly approached the summit walking instead of running, but in exchange for an increasingly speedy descent on the evermore technical downhills. I had become a trail runner. I enjoyed the mountain run, which never failed to let me escape from the daily grind.

In a rut and bored? Not a chance! Trail running is a mixture of running and outdoor adventure; it keeps your mind awake – not only on technical trails but also on tough ascents and winding paths, through changing weather conditions below in the valley and above on the summit. Trail running is pure variety.

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One of my favourite tours is not even a half hour away from the office in the Jenbach valley, near Bad Feilnbach, at the foot of the Wendelstein and 10 minutes from the A8. In about two hours and 15 kilometres, you experience just about everything that the trail runner soul seeks: slender trails along the river, a great, albeit nearly un-walkable ascent on to the ridge, and often, fog and wind. The crisp, mostly muddy and almost suspended descent down to the Schuhbräualm precedes the route over the little Mitterberg leading to the gruelling final ascent on to the Farrenpoint.

Then the final downhill appears: first 10 minutes on steep, hard-as-rock forest road (a true thigh burner), followed by a left turn onto a sensational trail, which commands the attention of even the most seasoned runner. It’s so beautiful, so fun, with all of its curves and roots and steps, that you can’t wipe the grin off your face when you’ve reached Jenbach again and power out the last 200 meters to the parking lot. This is the essence of trail running; this is the spirit of trail running.

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And this spirit is exactly what you experience in its purest form at the GORE-TEX® Transalpine Run, taking place for the 12th time this year.

Seven days in a 2-person team on the most beautiful trails of the Alps, and each day holds a new adventure. Phenomenal views pair with tough ascents and awesome trails. There are moments of pain and suffering, but also moments of happiness and the sort of emotions some don’t get to experience in an entire year.

When the starting signal sounds for the 12th Gore-TEX® Transalpine Run on the 3rd of September 2016 in Garmisch Partenkirchen, I will undoubtedly be there again. Yes, as a sponsor, but first and foremost as a passionate trail runner.

Find out more about the run here: transalpine-run.com.

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