The Transalpine Run 2012 – Stage 1

The wait was finally over, our kit was finely tuned and we were ready to take on the Alps. The Transalpine Run was upon us and we were raring to go.

Sunday, 2 September, 2012
Number of blisters: 0 Body parts chafed: 0 Beers consumed: 4     transalpine-run-2012     In preparation of our Alps-crossing endeavour the course director gave a detailed course briefing filling us with a suitable amount of dread – complete with dramatic photos of runners hacking through snow, almost toppling off ridges and faces contorted in pain – before the sucker punch of telling us this was the longest running of the race. Ever. Two hundred miles or as they say in Germany 320 kilometres. Bring it.   Our first stage saw the race start in the southern German town of Ruhpolding running across fell and field into Austria to th quaint town of St Johann 49.9 km (31 miles) away. The weather wasn't even going to be nice for our first day with rain aplenty, so it was on with the waterproofs from the off. The course had even been altered as the heavy rain had caused a landslip en route.   The race started in the centre of Ruhpolding at the Transalpine Run's cracking little runner's expo, which appears at both the start and finish with kit and freebies from sponsors as well as assistance, if needed, from the rescue service. Thanks to a trans-country malfunction we found ourselves rushing to the start (amazingly we had both forgotten to change our watches to German time!) and grabbing last minute items from the various stalls.    transalpine-run-2012   With a helicopter overhead, our kit checked for compulsory items and AC/DC's Highway To Hell belting out over the speakers we set off.   We were eased in relatively gently with the first section of the race a relatively easy 10km along forest trails to an abundant food station before our first ascent. The poles made their first appearance as we struggled up the hill to the second food checkpoint at 1153 metres. It was an even steeper ascent after this to the highest point on the course at 1558 metres and the third food station nestled into the hill and shrouded in mist. Very atmospheric. Along the way we were treated to some superb trails running under a waterfall, along exposed edges until hitting the roof of the mountain.    However, this stage wasn't about the uphill. The descents defined this stage. Churned up by the rain and steep and slippery, the drop down to the valley floor not only busted your quads but proved tricky staying on your feet. On the falling-on-your-backside competition, Ceri most definitely came out winner.   Down on the valley floor it was a quick run to the next hill and up to the final checkpoint. Another tricky, mud-filled descent caused us all sort of problems before we reached the bottom and the river running into St Johann. The final 5km into the centre along the riverside path was a perfect chance to stretch those legs out at last.   We crossed the finish line in the rather slow time of 8 hours 20 minutes; however, the sum total of our blisters was zero and we both felt fresh and free of any serious injuries. Perfect for the next seven days. The organisers really have their act together and as soon as we passed the finish line a Buff was thrust into our hands, a shoe washing machine cleaned our mud-caked shoes, the food tent served us some very welcome tomato soup, bread and chocolate and most importantly a beer! (We realised it was non-alcoholic half way through – it was in German).   Overall a good start to the race topped by a happy ending of the first stage and looking forward to the much shorter stage 2 at 35 km, although we do climb two ski slopes in the process. That should be nice.   The winners of the stage – who happened to be British (go TeamGB!) - crossed the line in a superb time under 4 hours 26 minutes, a full minute behind the second placed runners. Very impressive. Somehow I don't think we'll be challenging them...

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