If we would like to talk about the historical idea behind this relatively new race, we will have to go back to 1864, the year which Johann Studl created the legendary route to the peak of Grossglockner, a mountain whose highest point was stepped on in July of 1800. Returning back to today, the beauty of the area is enough to support the idea of an ultra- race. What else could anyone say when the athlete will traverse three provinces of Austria, seven green valleys, he will pass next to 14 glaciers, and all of this while he will be moving under the shadow of many peaks while over the altitude of 3.000 meters.
And if we mention how fascinating a race like that can be, movement in such a technical alpine field along with two traverses above 2.800m and three above 2.500m, added with the difficulty of the classic long ascents and descents in the Alps’ races, they all add up to a race puzzle which excites every athlete who is searching for beautiful experiences in the mountains.
The 2nd edition of the Grossglockner ultra-trail will be held between July 22-24th, with its base at Zell am see- Kaprun, and will include four different races for all preferences and the physical condition of every athlete. The main event is of course the Grossglockner ultra-trail (100 Km, +6.500m),which is accompanied by the Glockner trail (50 km, +2.000m), the Gletscherwelt trail (30 Km, +1.000m), while there is also the GGUT 110 team relay which is a relay by two athletes and divides the route in half (60 Km, +4.500m και 50 Km, +2.000m). The main sponsor of the race organization is Dynafit, since the philosophy of the race is very close to the company’s character.
The 110 kilometers with the +6.500m of ascent along with the alpine landscape in the largest part of the race certainly adds up to an enthralling experience. The race gives 5 ITRA points and begins Friday July 22nd at 24:00 midnight in Kaprun. It is substantially semi- autonomous, since it has 6 food stations, with two main ones that will offer warm meals and four more conventional stations. Finishing time limit is at 29 hours, meaning that the race “closes” at 05:00 in the morning of Sunday July 24th.
In last year’s 1st edition of the race winner was Markus Amon along with Klaus Gosweiner at the time of 16:45. First female winner was Anna Strakova at 21:37. As every difficult trail race that has passes at high altitudes, the Grossglockner ultra-trail has mandatory equipment that the athlete can find here. Furthermore, the race organizers offer a drop- bag with a capacity of 35lt, in which the athlete can find at about half into the race, at the food station Kals (58th km).
Registration is still open, with a shifting cost according to the race’s website that depends on the season of registration. Thus it is 125€ until July 10th and 145€ until July 20th. For someone to participate he has to have at least ran one race that gives 2 ITRA points between 01/01/2014 – 30/11/2015. The services that the race organization offers can be found here, while they also include discounts on transportation etc.
The technical difficulty of the race focuses on three main spots. The technical alpine landscape which the athlete will meet, since a large part of the race is at an altitude above 2.000m, the high passes (Untere Pfandlscharte at 2.663m, Wiener Höhenweg and Pfortscharte at 2.828m, Stüdlhütte at 2.801m, Kalser Tauern at 2.518m and Kapruner Törl at 2.639 m), and the climatic changes that are very possible at this time of the year in the Alps.
As a natural beauty, except for the green valleys while the athletes are running at lower altitudes, for sure the higher traverses are incredibly impressing, the view at the highest peaks of the East Alps and of course the area’s glaciers which impressively shine during the night , but give a blinding white at the sun’s light.
The very informative web-site of the organisation provides a detailed descrition of the route, both tecnically and in terms of the area's natural beauty. The race accepts up to 400 runners and the subscription can be done from here.
Video preview of the GGUT 110 course!
The second race follows the second half of the Grossglockner ultra-trail’s route, and starts at 07:00 Saturday morning of July 23rd from Kals am Großglockner, while the finish point is of course again at Kaprun. The finishing time limit is at 11 hours (18:00 evening Saturday July 23rd) and gives 3 ITRA points. Last year’s winner was Jim Mann at a time of 5:33:12 and Kerstin Erdmann at a time of 7:02:05.
The Glockner trail uses the largest part of the Glocknerrunde path, which traverses the Grossglockner, with a total ascent of +2.000m. It is of highly technical difficulty also, with two high passes (Kalser Tauern at 2.518m and Kapruner Törl at 2.639m) and a big part of movement at alpine landscapes. The race has similar mandatory equipment with the ultra race, while it supports the athletes with two food stations, one of which offers a warm meal.
The athlete that will choose this race will cross four valleys and will run next to six glaciers, while its natural beauty is boosted with the passing of the Hohe Tauem natural park. Registration for the Glockner trail is still open, with a cost according to the race’s website that depends on the season of registration. Hence it is 70€ until July 10th and 90€ until July 20th. For someone to participate they have to have experience from races that move at difficult technical terrains and alpine landscape, even though the race organizers don’t require ITRA points like they do for the ultra race.
For the first time this year a smaller –introduction- race has been added, which is 30 kilometers with +1000m ascent. The Gletscherwelt trail will start at 08:00 Saturday morning of July 23rd at Weissee, and finishes at Kaprun, following the last 30km of the ultra race. It has a finishing time limit of 6 hours and gives 2 ITRA points. A remarkable point of the route is the passing from the Kapruner Törl at the altitude of 2.639 m, while its descent has began from the alpine landscape towards Kaprun, along with the three glaciers the athletes will meet on the route.
As the head of the organization Mr. Hubert Resch mentioned, “We have many runners who travel from far and a new introduction race allows relatives or friends of the athletes to participate also whilst racing. Furthermore, it offers the opportunity to local runners, trekkers, and mountaineers to participate also in the event. The race starts at Rudofshütte (free transport with the teleferik for all runners) at an altitude of 2.315m and has an ascent of +1.000m but also descents a total of 2.300m until the finish line. However, experience of movement at technical alpine terrain is required along with the necessary equipment. For sure it is not a simple stroll!”
Registration for the Gletscherwelt trail is still open, with a cost according to the race’s website of 55€ until July 10th and 65€ until July 20th. The race accepts up to 300 athletes and registration can be made here. Finally, although it is small in distance, movement in the alpine terrain and altitude requires mandatory equipment which can be found here.
As Mr. Hubert Resch mentions, “The relay can be done is teams of two runners on the route of the large race, with the first athlete running the first 60km (+4.500m) and the second runner the last 50km (+2.000m). We believe that is a great chance for friends/ teammates to run together the whole route of the Grossglockner ultra-trail”.
The starting time is the same of the large race, at 24:00 midnight of Friday July 22nd, and the race organizers will accept up to 100 teams of two runners each. The finishing time limit is the same with the ultra race, which is 29 hours. The most difficult effort is upon the first runner, not only because the route that will be covered is longer and with a higher ascent, but mainly because it will be ran mostly during the night. Of course, this has to do with the athlete’s experience, since many runners are more familiar physically and more trained for night running. Concerning the drop- bags, food stations, mandatory equipment ect, the same imply for the relay as for the ultra race.
Registration for the GGUT 110 team relay is still open, with a cost according to the website of the race of 150€ until July 10th and 180€ until July 20th. The race accepts up to 200 athletes (100couples) and registration can be made here.
“Both the route of the 110km and the 50km have had changes this year, so that we can assure the maximum security of the athletes, since there were points that were very exposed to bad weather conditions. The new route is therefore much better manageable and secure concerning the weather conditions, and can remain the same for the next years. Also, some of the new parts and especially the path towards the end of the race from Rudolfshütte which is now through Austriaweg and Kaprun Törl at an altitude of 2.639meters, along with the alpine descent to Kaprun and of course the Riffelkees glaciers, are truly impressive new elements of the race” Mr. Hubert Resch points out, who only a few days before the Grossglockner ultra-trail was happy to accept to answer to Advendure’s questions.
[Advendure]: Mr. Resch, which was the dream behind the Grossglockner Ultra-Trail? Surely the trails of the very old "Glocknerrunde", which surrounds the highest mountain of Austria, the Großglockner (3.798 m), but it would be very interesting to learn what exactly was the inspiration and the vision behind this fascinating race.
[Hubert Resch]: In Austria, specifically the area of Großglockener, this mountain seems mythical and is also called “the black mountain”, der schwarze Berg. It is not only the highest mountain in Austria, but is also the mountain that unites three providences of the country, Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol. The Glockner area also has many symbols from Austria’s (re)building, and these are the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße which the race crosses and the Kapruner Hochgebirgsstauseen (where we run along). For these reasons it causes deep emotions to Austrians. For the runners of the race we offer a unique experience which takes place in one of the most impressive alpine areas of Austria. These are the ingredients and the substance of the idea.
[Advendure]: The historical background and the beauty of the landscape, and sometimes along with the challenges of a difficult route, are the main elements that attract runners to a race. What applies to Grossglockner ultra-trail?
[Hubert Resch]: Last year’s 1st edition of the race proved that the GGUT 110 is a very hard race. This is not to make the race more extreme, but only because the Glocknerrunde route is that way, and therefore the logical line of the race’s route around the mountain. For sure the runners will not forget the dusk and the sunrise in the area up there- you will be impressed Dimitris!
[Advendure]: I am sure that you have hundreds of runners from all over the world (hoping also for some friend runners from Greece!) that will run for the first time in the trails of Grossglockner. Therefore, it would be nice for you to give us an idea concerning the technical details and difficulties that the athlete will meet at the races.
[Hubert Resch]: From the 25th kilometer of the route the athlete moves exclusively in mountain trails, not dangerous with the sense of falling, but with great technical difficulty and therefore psychologically extremely demanding. There are also long and steep ascents, i.e. from the 25th to the 32rd km on the Pfandlscharte, where you have to manage well your energy consumption. There are two passes over 2.800m, plus still various snow fields to cross. Lastly, from the 25th to the 100th km of the race the route moves continuously over the altitude of 1.500m mainly between 2.000m and 2.500m where acclimatization is a challenge. Therefore it is of particular importance that runners know and respect their limits and their abilities. For the rest we are very well prepared, concerning supply, security and rescue.
[Advendure]: Mountain running and ultra-trail have an impressive development internationally, which is evident both from the numbers of athletes participating, and also from the hundreds of very interesting races of every distance and structure. Why should someone choose the Grossglockner ultra-trail for their summer goal?
[Hubert Resch]: Because it is a unique adventure with many friends at one of the most impressive mountain areas of Austria, organized at an excellent degree.
High passings and peaks over 3000m altitude, eternal glaciers and technical trails at alpine terrains, wooded paths in green valleys, a bouquet of races for every level and every quest for experience, and mainly a very experienced organizing team that has experienced up to the last inch of the paths of Grossglockner. All of the above definitely are an exciting experience as of every race of that level in the Alps.
Advendure is a media sponsor of the race organization and will participate in the Grossglockner ultra-trail (Dimitris Troupis in the 110km and Angie Terzi in the 50km) after being invited by the race organizers and with full support from Mr. Giorgos Klaoudatos, Dynafit Greece, along with the support from the organizers, who we thank gratefully. Besides our journalism regarding our experience from our participation in the races, we will have important interviews and many photographs from Kaprun and the race weekend.
English Version: Angie Terzi
Photo ©: Grossglockner ultra-trail