Ultra Running Adventures in Austria

Pitz-Alpine Glacier Trail - and then there were 10...

Summertime and the mountains were calling… to be more specific, the Pitz-Alpine Glacier Trail in Austria. This time it was my brother Sam and I who signed up along with about 100 others for the 106km trail run through the Tyrol mountains, spanning 6100m positive altitude gain and reaching the 'mittagskogel scharte' at its highest point 3070m.  

Starting off with a shockingly early start at 3.30am, we trudged up the first ascent in the darkness, reaching 3000m to the sound of grumbling and muttering along the lines of whose stupid idea was this etc. Not so when we reached the top. The sun rose gloriously into a pink sky, lighting up the glacier and our faces as we skipped across it with our new running crampons. And suddenly that early start was worth it! 

After 22 hours of running and awesome scenery we had nailed our 106km of both physical and mental ups and downs. Our preparation for the race had been good – a lot of work on specific stability and strengthening of the whole body to cope with the strain of loading the joints and the variety of moves you experience during a 22 hour run on unstable ground. Owning the basics like squats, lifts, crawls and jumps had given us our best chance of finishing - proving that natural movement exercises and mindset training were just as important as building up the kilometres in the legs for these kinds of trail runs. Others who had skipped that essential combination did not fare so well with most stopping at 85km before the last rising loop of the mountains. Happily exhausted we were even more thrilled to discover that we were in fact 2 of the only 10 people that finished the race.  Arriving back to our tent with not a small amount of pride, we were even happier to recover the 2 belgian beers stashed carefully in the lake to chill the day before. What better way to end a race and celebrate a top 10 finish!

If you want to get a glimpse of what trail running is about, we made a short video of our 'practice run' up Stubai glacier a couple of days before the race. Stubai Trail running watch here.
Did you also achieve a movement goal over the summer? Or will 2019 be the year that you bag your first trail run in the mountains? Let us know in the comments!

Did you know that the average age for runners in 100-mile ultras was 44? Read more at this article by Paul Flannery: Extreme Athleticism Is the New Midlife CrisisPeople in middle age are flocking in record numbers to intense workouts and challenging races. What are they chasing?