SILVRETTARUN 3000 2019

© Sportograf

©Sportograf

Thanks to Keller Sports and my mate and Ironman Christian Kehr, my sister and I had been invited by Galür and Ischgl to participate in the Silvrettarun 3000. While my sister run the 11-kilometer race, I signed up for the marathon distance. It was a perfect test before Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc and worked out perfectly as I had gifted my sister a brother-sister running trip for Christmas. It was a wonderful weekend spent with my sibling and a humbling lesson the story of Justin and Gabriele Grunewald has taught us. In fact, it shall force us all to re-calibrate and ensure not to forget what it is important in life.   

Unfortunately, the weekend itself did not kick off too well, although I thought that it would not be possible to have a more horrific arrival to an event compared to the one I had a few weeks ago in Cortina D’Ampezzo at the Ultradolomites. However, I had been proven wrong. I left the office around 20:00 on Friday and arrived in Galtür at 3:30 in the morning.

As I had mentioned before, my job in corporate finance consumes the great majority of my day. Even though, I certainly enjoy what I do, the projects I work on are exciting and the learning curve is immense, yet you cannot deny that it comes at a cost, including significantly reduced hours to rest and sleep per day. I try to stick to my sleep patterns and aim to achieve the same with my running schedule, yet both certainly get effected. With that being said, I had to learn to realign my goals and ambitions, as well as understand to accept that you have to make priorities in life and evaluate what is most important to you. It is about finding a balance between family, friends, work, sports, travel, business ideas, and any other commitments that one may have. I guess this no new wisdom, but it certainly is easier said than done as I am not perfectly juggling all different elements of life. Nevertheless, I hope to be getting there, especially after I heard about Justin’s story, who had actually won the race.

So, a few hours into my drive to Austria, I was forced to exit the autobahn, find myself a seat inside Burger King at the gas station and get out my laptop to complete a work-related assignment that was due to for completion that evening. In hindsight, I thought that at least I would get the chance to taste the highly appraised Impossible Whopper. However, unfortunately, it turned out that the meatless burger was only a veggie patty. Frustrating stuff. Anyways, around one and half hours later, the clock was nearing 23:00 and with more than 400 kilometers to go, I was back on track. I continued the drive, listened to a number of interesting podcasts and eventually arrived in Galtür. I hopped out of my car. It was quite. The moon was lightening up the streets and in the background I was listening to sounds of a little creek. I was breathing in the cold air. I was exhausted, but incredibly happy to have arrived. I grabbed my bags, walked to the hotel and went straight to bed.

Two hours later, at 6:00 in the morning, my alarm rung. I woke up, opened the curtain and stepped out of the balcony. To be honest, I was not feeling all too tired, probably overwhelmed from the pre-race adrenaline. I quickly wrote one or two e-mails for work, before jumping under shower and getting ready to race. I enjoyed two tasty Clif Bars (my two new personal favourites: Peanut Butter Banana and Oatmeal Raisin Walnut) with one banana each, consumed one Red Bull and made my way to the bus stop. It was a fantastic day. No clouds, blue sky and warm sunshine. 

With the starting point in Ischgl and finish in Galtür, each runner could choose from one out of three different trails that would bring them from A to B:

  • Small - 11.2 kilometers and 306 meters difference in vertical gain

  • Medium - 29.9 kilometers and 1,482 meters difference in vertical gain

  • Hard - 42.2 kilometers and 1,814 meters difference in vertical gain

At 7:00 the bus picked us up in Galtür and drove across to the starting line in Ischgl. I collected my number and run a few times up and down the road to warm up my muscle. Frankly, I was still a bit dreamy, possibly exhausted, yet equally excited to get going. At 8:00 the race commenced. 42,2 kilometers and close to 2000 meters of vertical gain through an impressive mountain scenery.

The course itself was pretty straightforward. It was taking us up to the peak of the almost 3.000 meters high Kronenjoch and then down on the other side. Starting in Ischgl, the trail was leading up the ski slopes and eventually flattened a little bit once we reached the valley. It was a stunning scenery running amidst two mountain ranges on either side and the fields colored in a beautifully rich-green tone. Never mind my lack of sleep, I was pretty feeling great and enjoyed every step along the way. The Medium and Hard trail were sharing the same course until we reached Heidelberg Hütte, where the runners parted ways. The trail started to incline again and lead us through the rocks and into the snow. As we got closer to the peak, snow started to cover the trail. It could not have been a more contrary experience. Only a few hours ago, I was sitting in the office in Frankfurt, then stressing into Burger King to continue work, and now, I found myself in nature, hiking through the snow. This is why I run! 

I reached the peak. I drunk a cup of water and ate one energy bar. Suddenly, I spotted a 50,00 Euros note lying on the ground. On the top of a mountain, with a light breeze of wind, the brown note, folded in a square, was calmly lying there. I wonder whether this was my reward for getting to the top, or for even making it to the starting line. After all, in line with my words from the start, it reminded me about living in the now, being aware of your surrounding, instead being distracted by all kinds of other actions that are keeping you busy in life. Maybe those 50,00 Euros were my reward for being present? I picked up the money. For one moment I was wondering, whether I should ask, but without finishing my thought, I put the note into my bag and started the downhill passage.

It was pretty steep and you had to be careful. One step after the other. I do enjoy downhills and I guess that I am quite good at it allowing me to make up time. You have to be confident in yourself and be laser-focused. I try to be quick with my movement, mainly run on my front foot, step and take off again. Eventually, I reached the Jamtalhütte from where on nice single trail lead us down towards to Galtür. A final lap around the little alpine village before I was entering the final meters of the race. In the morning I had told my sister that I was aiming to cross the finish line under six hours.

I could hear the music from the finish area and hear the voice of the commentator. I was feeling tired. I did not really know how far I was away, but suddenly, I saw my sister waving in the distance. I picked up the pace. There she was. She had completed the “Small Trail” in the morning and now she was running alongside me. The clock was ticking. Then we could see the finish line. We picked up the pace again and run towards the end. After 5:59:00,8 hours we crossed the finish line together. Boy, I was happy. Not only to have come that far after a slightly exhausting journey, but above all I was thankful for sharing this moment with my sister. 

Never mind all that stress, I am so glad that I came down to Galtür. I guess I am a bit stubborn, quite resilient, probably headstrong and not so accepting if things do not quite align with my belief or goals, but I did not want anyone to take this weekend from me. In the end, I realize that it is not about the time it takes, not about the hurdles that your day-to-day life may put in place, but to enjoy the ride and cherish the moment. Yet, speaking of time, I want to underline the amazing performance of Annika, who had missed the podium in her category by 33 seconds finishing the 11 kilometers in 1:01.53,0 hours. With that being said, I hope that we can be back next, for the 9th edition of Silvrettarun 3000, which will take place on 17 and 18 July 2020, and maybe secure a spot on the podium. 

Thank you Keller Sports. Thank you Ischgl and Galtür. And, thank you Christian Kehr for allowing us to enjoy this moment in time and creating a memory for a lifetime.