TransAlpine Run 2016 – Stage 1

This is part 4 of a series detailing my experiences travelling to Europe and completing the Gore-tex TransAlpine Run. The TransAlpine Run is a 7-day stage race from southern Germany across Austria and into northern Italy boasting a distance of 250 km and elevation gain of 15000 m. Eight of us traveled there together as Team Ultra Crazy to attempt this huge goal.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Lermoos

36.5 km | 2088 m ascent | 1791 m descent | 9 hour cut off

Holy sh*t. This is happening.

We woke up early, got dressed, ate breakfast, dropped our orange bags off to be transported to the next town, and checked out of our hotel.

Our packs were full of the mandatory gear as we walked over to the start line. We took a few photos as made our way through the check in and into the corrals.  Before we knew it Highway to Hell was playing, a song we would hear many more times in the following days, and the countdown began. It was a mass start so we hung out at the back.

The gun fired and we were off! There were a few kilometres of flat road out of Garmisch and then it was straight up a trail from there. Most days would begin like this – a small stretch of road and then a bottleneck when we reached the narrow trail into the mountains. We quickly learned the importance of getting a good starting position in your corral and booking it straight out of the gate – particularly if you are a strong climber.

I didn’t know what to expect at the aid stations and was prepared for the worst. However, when we reached the first one, I found out they had a pretty good spread! There was water, sports drink (Poweraid), fruit (banana, oranges, and a type of melon I didn’t recognize), cake, meat, and cheese. Other aid stations also included slices of bread with a few different spread options, pumpkin soup, and watermelon.

We caught up to Ward and Kyle briefly when leaving the first aid station. My training had prepared me to crush the climbs and that’s exactly what we were doing.

Stage 1 and stage 2 were the only days where the elevations profiles weren’t straight up and straight down. Instead they had two separate climbs with a downhill in between and at the end.

We topped out an an elevation of 1600 m and began our first descent. Chris is way faster on the downhills so he’d bolt down a stretch and then wait for me to catch up. The system worked.

I was tentative as usual about my knees and took my time on the downhills. I had taped my problem knee as per my RMT’s instructions and it felt good. My good knee started to act up a bit so the next day I taped both going forward. From there on out my knees held up as well as could be expected.

After another solid climb we began the final descent to the 30 km mark. From there on out it was a “flat” 6 km to the finish … or so we had thought. It must have been the longest f*cking 6 km of our lives and we weren’t the only ones who felt this way. I don’t know if it was because we could see towns or the slightly uphill grade but it felt like forever before we reached the finish line in Lermoos.

Just like that day 1 was over! And at some point during the second half, we had crossed into Austria!

Hailey, Eduardo, Kyle, and Ward heard our names announced and greeted us with cheers and high fives. We grabbed some quinoa from a booth and our drop bags. I dumped a package of Vega into my shaker cup and added water. My ideal recovery shake has a few more ingredients but this would suffice given  the circumstances. I drank it while I stretched at the booth filled with yoga mats and foam rollers. This would become my routine.

Dayna and Courtney finished shortly after us. hen we went on a search for our hotel, the Hotel Bergland, which turned out to be right beside the finish line. Our bags were at the front when we checked in and we made sure to get wifi access for everyone. The pasta party required a shuttle to get to so most of us are at the hotel restaurant instead. I was desperate for vegetables so I ordered a salad and fries.

Back at the hotel room, I began the usual routine of showering, preparing my pack and gear for the following day, and re-packing my orange duffle. I fell asleep quickly but woke up during the night with an upset stomach – just a slightly nauseous feeling – and what felt like a low grade fever. It reminded me of earlier in the year when I got heat stroke. I had trouble falling back to sleep until I popped a Tylenol.

More in the series:


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