This is part 5 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.
Lermoos to Imst
33.8 km | 2023 m ascent | 2237 m descent | 8.5 hour cut off
My stomach was not happy when I woke up. We dropped our bags off at the front desk and went for breakfast but all I could put down was some orange juice and wafers – better than nothing. I was whining a lot so Dayna gave me a Gravol and it worked miracles! By the time we started running I felt WAY better.
Today was a staggered start. We were divided up into corrals A, B, and C. Aside from Hailey and Eduardo, our group was starting in “cell block C” as a fellow runner called it. The reason for the staggered start, we would soon learn, was that there was only a very short stretch of road before we would hit an entirely single-track trail to the top of the first climb. Once you get to the single track it’s basically impossible to pass people due to the amount of runners. It’s a solid train of people hiking to the top.
We met a couple Nova Scotians, Jodi and Karine, who were here with a larger group as well. Jodi, I later found out, was a race director for the Nova Scotia Trail Running series and the first Canadian to finish the Barkley Marathons “fun run” of three laps.
I was keeping an eye on the first cut-off time. When we got to the top, there was just a few kilometres of downhill to the aid station and timing mats. It was getting close but I didn’t think it would be a problem … that is, until we hit a steep mess of a game trail that was devastatingly slow to descend.
When we were back on a run-able trail I got caught up talking to a man from Seattle. He had asked if I was from the states and I said “No, Vancouver, Canada” to which he replied, “Oh, you sound American.” I don’t know if he was serious or joking. Like dude, I live about a 3-hour drive from you. I could here the aid station up ahead and looked at my watch. Only two minutes!!!
The small talk was over. I politely asked to pass the American and booked it to the timing mats. Kyle, Ward, Dayna, and Courtney were right behind us. We quickly filled up on water and snacks at the aid station and just started running. It was mostly downhill to the next one, and not very far.
We got there with TONS of time to spare. That’s when we realized the cut-off times were bonkers. I later looked at the information provided and realized that the cut-offs were based solely on moving at 5 km per hour – they did not factor in elevation or terrain. Yes, 5 km per hour is slow … but not when you are hiking up a mountain on single track with 500 other people. This is my one issue with the race.
My strategy from there on out was to start strong, like REALLY strong. Unfortunately, photo-taking took a backseat to ensuring I made the cut-offs because a few minutes can mean do or die in these situations. Once we made it through the first couple aid stations and were on the downhills, the cut-offs were way more attainable. I’d ease way off and the last few road kilometres would often be a recovery run/walk because we’d have lots of time banked by then and my only goal was to be able to start the next day.
At some point during the last half of this stage we chatted with a couple from Squamish, Steve and Katrina. Steve was dealing with some injuries prior to the race and his calf was taped up. Meanwhile Katrina bounced along like this whole race was no big deal. We saw them a lot throughout the race.
We descended into another adorable Austrian town, Imst, where the finish line awaited us. Two days down, five more to go. Tomorrow would be the biggest day with 47 km and 3000 m elevation gain.
That night we stayed at the Hotel Eggerbrau. Courtney and I made some camping meals and at in our room while the others went to the pasta party or to a restaurant for dinner.
More in the series:
- Part 1: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Preface
- Part 2: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Packing
- Part 3: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Before the Race
- Part 4: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Stage 1
- Part 5: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Stage 2
- Part 6: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Stage 3
- Part 7: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Stage 4
- Part 8: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Stage 5
- Part 9: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Stage 6
- Part 10: TransAlpine Run 2016 – Stage 7
- Part 11: TransAlpine Run 2016 – After the Race