The Alps – Transalpine Run 2012: A Preview

Jody Raynsford gives an overview of what the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run has in store for competitors, as he and teammate Ceri Rees prepare to run 200miles over 8 days.

Friday, 31 August, 2012
With only a few days to go until I jet off to Munich for the start of this year’s Gore-Tex Transalpine Run, I have compiled a day-by-day overview of what runners will be facing over the 8 days and 200 miles of the race.    transalpine-run-2012



What is the Transalpine Run?

Since its launch in 2005, the Gore-Tex Transalpine has established itself as one of the toughest multi-day endurance races on the ultrarunning calendar. More popular than ever, the 2013 race sold out within days with over 300 teams of two competing in the race this year. The 2013 race runs from Ruhpolding in southern Germany and finishes eight days and 320 kilometres (200 miles) later in Sexten in Italy, via Austria. Over the course of the race, runners will experience 15,000 metres of ascent and 14,500 metres of descent with cut-off times at the various checkpoints and finish.  

Why is the Transalpine Run so popular?

Drawing the teams to the event is its reputation for being one of the most spectacular races in terms of its alpine scenery with towering summits, 3000 metre high passes and stunning valleys. Such an environment also brings with it unique hazards which is the reason why runners must travel in teams of two (if you’re more than a couple of minutes apart you are penalised!). Fortunately, the hugely experienced international staff running the event do their best to minimise all dangers. This isn’t a race to be sniffed at, and racers are expected to have sufficient experience over the distances and in alpine running before they sign up. The Transalpine is also well-known for its fantastic atmosphere and the camaraderie among its competitors. Each of the nine stage towns along the way are taken over by the race, with the locals making their temporary visitors welcome each year and pasta parties every night.

How does the race break down?

The race is broken down into eight stages, starting in Ruhpolding in southern Germany.   transalpine-run-2012 Picture: courtesy of Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run  

Day 1 – Ruhpolding(Germany) to St Johann (Austria)

The very first stage is also the longest and sees runners crossing an international border from Germany to Austra with a total distance of 49.6 km (30.8 miles) and total ascent of 1663 metres.  

Day 2 – St Johann (Austria) to Kitzbuhel (Austria)

The second stage starts with a steep ascent on the Wilden-Kaiser-Steig with runners facing a number of steep ascents and descents over the stage’s 34.8 km (21.6 miles) and 1849 metres of ascent.  

Day 3 – Kitzbuhel (Austria) to Neukirchen am Großvenediger (Austria)

Ominously flagged as the “royal stage” by the race organisers, which is a lot to do with its huge 2258 miles of ascent and total distance of 46.5 km (28.9 miles). The race drags us up and downhill constantly through the Kitzbuheler Alps with a final big push up the Wildkogel. It’s all downhill from here. Literally.  

Day 4 - Neukirchen am Großvenediger  (Austria) to Prettau im Ahrntal (Italy)

It’s a full marathon distance (42.2km, 26.2 miles) for the fourth stage as we hit the highest point on the run with the 2667m high Birnlücke on our way from Austria to South Tyrol Italy. The good news: there’s only one ascent today. The bad news: With 1967 metres of altitude over the ridges of the Alps its a long hard ascent.

Day 5 - Prettau im Ahrntal (Italy) to Sand in Taufers (Italy)

We’re in high alpine territory again with a distance of 32.8 km (20.4 miles) and altitude difference of 1821 metres to be covered on what is described as “perfect running terrain”. Which doesn’t explain why the stage is topped off with a scramble along the Reinbach waterfalls…  

Day 6 - Sand in Taufers (Italy) to St Vigil (Italy)

The ascent is a tough one today with 2289 metres of it to be negotiated on the 38.5km (23.9m) sixth stage of the race. We’ll get our first view of the Dolomites from here and treated to a particularly difficult descent into St Vigil.  

Day 7 – St Vigil (Italy) to Niederdorf im Pustertal (Italy)

The second to last stage starts off with a gentle uphill for the first13km before hitting the steep slopes up onto the Senne plateau before a steep descent then an immediate steep ascent up to Weißlahnscharte, bringing the total ascent for the day 1950 metres. Total distance for the stage is 41.8 km (25.9 miles).  

Day 8 - Niederdorf im Pustertal (Italy) to Sexten (Italy)

The final stage takes runner over the final 33.4 km (20.7 miles) and 1269 metres of ascent through to the stunning finish at Sexten in the Dolomites, with the Drei Zinnen the ‘only’ challenge standing between runners and the finish.


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