GROSSGLOCKNER ULTRA-TRAIL® - Running in a Mountain Dream World!

Από 04 Αυγ 2018
© Andi Frank © Andi Frank

The storm was already breaking out on me when I started the last climb of the race for the Kapruner Torl at 2,500m. The adrenaline banged red as I was trying to balance myself on the wet rocks that smiled wickedly watching me step on them in agony. A slip there might have been fatal. Coming to the small plateau just before the col, I saw a spectacle that will be sculptured in my memory for ever. Unique scenery sculpture, insurmountable, out of this world. The glacier was hanging over my head, huge boulders inadvertently placed by an divine invisible hand scattered in front of me closing the road, impenetrable mountain walls around standing imperiously. And then I heard it! The creepy noise of the glacier that is rolling in an eternal flow made me realize the greatness of the place I was in. My mind was shouting to leave that place quickly, but my heart did not want to be elsewhere at that time. Absolute isolation, a mountain paradise. The Grossglockner Ultra Trail had already enchanted me!

 

The spectacular spectacle of the landscape on the plateau beneath the Kapruner Torl was just the icing on the cake of a real mountain race! The mind can not forget the incredible images I saw until I got there, and of course they did not stop amazed even until the finish.

 

The plateau below Kapruner Torl


The Start

Having experienced the abuzz start of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail just a month ago, here, the 350 starters in the very functional area at the entrance of the scenic Kaprun that was the center of the event, we were just ... a family atmosphere. An atmosphere that has managed been kept even though within 4 years the Grossglockner Ultra Trail has come to be a very important pillar of mild tourist development in the region and the most popular ultra trail race in Austria. At 22:00 exactly on Friday night, we all started the big journey around Grossglockner without being exactly suspicious of what we were going to look at. But this is also the magic of discovering new places, new routes.

 

The start of GGUT 110 | (c) Markus Fruhmann

 

The First Climb

It was only in the third kilometer that we had to unfold our trekking poles, as the first climb, which was a simple warm up compared with what was to follow, was in front of us. In a dense forest a twisted snake of moving lights broke the harmony and serenity of the forest. The torrential rain that had fallen shortly before the start had raised the levels of humidity threatening to dehydrate the careless trail runner…

 

(c) Markus Fruhmann

 

Total Lunar Eclipse

The wonderful images came up quickly. We just came out of the woods and saw what we were all waiting for. A bloody full moon in absolute and harmonious alignment with our planet that casts its shadow on its faithful satellite. I do not know if Hubert Rusch, the technical director of the race had planned it, but it was a bonus picture undoubtedly! Bypassing the first station Ferleiten at 22km, which like the other five had everything (cakes, bread, cheese, cold meats, watermelon, orange, dried fruit, gels, isotonic drinks, coca cola, hot soup), the show continued. The shadow of the earth had gone, and a thrilling, full-moon was illuminating everything around making us to turn off our headlamps, since for a 2-3 km we were moving on a wide dirt road. In the distant background, the spectacle of what we had to climb was magical. Small lights flashing from afar, climbing the huge ascent of 1,700 meters of positive altitude gain were becoming one with the stars creating a fairytale scenery. An experience that justifies all the sacrifices you have made to stand in the start of such a race ...

 

The First Hardships

We were close to climb the first major uphill race. The twilight on the horizon welcomed a new day, making us anxious for the rebirth of our body and spirit that dawn always brings into an ultra race. We had left almost 3,000 meters of climb behind us when we stepped on the first snow field leading to the Pfandlscharte (2,663m). We hoped that the relatively high temperatures would make the snow easier to step on, but that was not the case. If you made the mistake of leaving the steps that fortunately existed on the right path you could not avoid a slump down. On the col, the reward was far greater than the effort you had made to get up to there. The first daylight gave us an incredible view of 360 °, an amazing panorama of mountain peaks as far as the eye could see. From there, we could also see the direction we had to follow for the 2nd aid station, Glocknerhaus, in a hotel above the huge dam of Lake Margaritzenstausee, which mirrored the surrounding huge mountain peaks.

 

At the end of climb to Pfandlscharte

Glocknerhaus, 2nd aid station at 36Κ

The climb to Pfortscharte at 2.825m

Just before the end of the climb to the highest point of the route | (c) Andi Frank

 

The Scree

We reached the steepest climb of the race after about 44 kilometers. We were moving for a long time over 2,000 meters and the sun had already begun to warm up our body, mind and soul. The alpine landscape around you gave you a rhythm in which you could move eternally. Why on earth would you hurry to leave this mountain paradise? The last uphill climb took us to the highest point of the route, the Pfortscharte Pass at 2.825m where a stop to catch our breath was required. The small steep downhill took us to a point where it could well be described as an amusement park for trail runners. A huge mountain scree of about 1,5 km length. Time to play!

 

 

Pfortscharte Pass at 2.825m | (c) Andi Frank

The Scree! Somewhere far away its end!

 

The Bridges

Wooden, stone, small, large! Countless really all the bridges that helped us pass over rivers and streams. Maybe I counted more than 20 especially in the second part of the race. 

 

... wooden bridges...

... stone bridges! | (c) Andi Fridman

 

The Beautiful Mountain Huts

… you could find them everywhere! They may not have been as many as in the Dolomites, yet they called you like sirens to sit there a little longer to enjoy the rich sun, enjoy the view and drink one beer. Or two, or more!

 

A small hut en route to Pfortscharte

The small hut / aid station Lucknerhutte at 50K

 

The Race ...

... started on Kals after the 62K main aid station! Until then I had not seen even the half of what was ahead of me and nothing I had read could prepare me for the next hours. Entering the Hohe Tauern National Park you could understand that something was changing. Huge waterfalls fiercely pounded their water with splashing the black rock that dominated the landscape. The river flowing to our left creaked with power creating a sweet melody. A gentle uphill brought us to one of the highlights of the route. A trail dug into the black rock led us to the last trace of "civilization," at Tauernhaus, where water was falling from everywhere, cooling us. Anyway, water is something that you will find at any point in the Grossglockner Ultra Trail!

 

Entering the Hohe Tauern National Park

The path before Tauernhaus

Tauernhaus in 71Κ

Sun, Music and Beers! The Sirens!

 

After the picturesque hut where local musicians tried to ease runners’ struggle with their music (the sirens we had mentioned earlier!) you were leaving this world! Verbal exaggeration perhaps, but fact is that you were entering a mountain dream world. Say adios to hailing paths and mild uphills or downhills. Lake Dorfersee on the left mirrored the beauty we could saw with our own eyes. Jumping from rock to rock I did not know where to stare to. My feet so as to be able to continue or to the immense beauty that surrounded me?

 

The "path" to lake Dorfersee

Running besides Dorfersee

The slope grew as I was moving, the terrain became more and more rough. Silent glances behind me showed where I had come from. There are times when you do not believe that you have done “all this”. Sometimes it's worthwhile to say a good world to yourself for anything small you have accomplished. This is nothing maybe comparing to the real problems of life. However, the self-confidence that gives you such a small conquest is enough to cope with the real life out there.

 

Just before the end of climb to Kalser Tauern. Dorfersee in the background, you can see where you have come from...

 

The inwardness and mysticism of the moment were interrupted by the last steps of the route to the Kalser Tauern at 2,500m. The legs, having “ran” about 80 km and 5,500 meters of ascent, did not obey my internal quests, sending signs of pain and fatigue, bringing me back to reality. On the col that was the end of the uphill I took a breath. Not from fatigue, but because the beauty of the view was breathtaking. A good excuse for the untrained runner I thought at that time. Between the lake I was watching in the distance dominated by Rudolfshütte Hotel, a "trail" of scattered rocks was interfering, making time and distance expand sharply. It is precisely the moment when the calculations for pace, speed and all the running stuff go to hell.

 

Descending from Kalser Tauern

Descending Kalser Tauern. Typical Grossglockner Ultra Trail field!

The "trail" for Rudolfshütte at 82K

To Rudolfshütte ... | (c) Andi Frank

 

After the last main station at Rudolfshütte on the 82nd km, the storm broke out finding me to climb down the most technical field I had ever seen on a mountain race. Not for 20 or 30 meters. A steep downhill on slippery rocks that made me often wondering if I'm going right. Few took the decision to continue from there, some others that already had left were returning. After all, just 5 runners finished the race after me, I realized this afterwards. At that moment I was wondering why I was alone in a place that at that time did not look so idyllic, especially with the fury of weather rushing over me.

 

(c) Andi Frank

 

The Snow Field

The storm had subsided and I had managed to reach two runners right on the Kapruner Torl. I had already gone through the most majestic place I had ever seen and now I slowly wanted to go down. But not. It would take a long time for this to happen. Fortunately, I still had half an hour to descend the great snowfield that lied ahead of me before darkness swallow me up. Any attempt to balance on the furrow that the previous ones had formed, was in vain. After the 2nd fall, I decided to continue to descend from the right side of the snow field where the quality of the snow let me step on it more steadily. The darkness found me at the end of it, while the candles that had been set up by the heroic volunteers - rescuers who were standing watchmen in watchtowers and mountain peaks for 30 hours, candles that outlined our way like lighthouses in the dark ...

 

The start of the snow field after the technical descent from Kapruner Torl | (c) wusaonthemountain.at

 

The Tunnels

The rain was stopping and starting for hours. The descent from Kapruner Torl without being very technical in any other circumstances, at that time, in dense darkness where the rain had turned the trail muddy and the stones slippery, it was not exactly what we call a "running terrain". That's why after an hour and after I had passed from the last aid station in Mooserbooden on the 94th km, when I stepped on asphalt for the first time I wondered if I was actually on the right track. I looked again and again the tiny flags and reflectors consisted the way markers of the race. Hoping not to be considered as the shame of the mountain running community I can mention that at that time the asphalt road was more than welcomed! After 500 meters I saw a tunnel in front of me. Having once again made sure that I was following the right route, I was tentatively walking in the tunnel. I started running. My steps resounded on its wet walls, creating a surrealist scene. For about a kilometer I looked behind me to see if anyone came. Nothing. As long as the eye looked ahead, nothing. Tunnel only. Having read several books and watched even more thriller movies, my mind could not avoid making strange thoughts. This went on for two more times for about 3 kilometers before we entered the trail again. Fatigue and the second night had already begun to eat my flesh and I, as a modern Prometheus, waited stoically for the finish, like mythical hero Hercules to redeem me ...

 

The Organisation

I cannot think of something missing from an event that had it all! Very nice gift for all participants of the race, a Dynafit race vest, a very functional start / stop area with everything you could ask for: stand for food, beer, coffee, massage, expo, excellent way marking, sense of security despite the difficulty of the trail since the incredible volunteers - rescuers were at the most difficult and exposed points of the race, perfect aid stations, functional website, constant newsletter updates and much more. I try to find something negative and I can’t. My only observation might be the very tight cut off limit at the first station at 22 km where 4:00 hours were maybe too strict. I left there on 3.53 while reaced the next cut off with two hours to spare without speed up the pace. So perhaps there is a need for a review of some of the cut offs of the race.

 

 The way markers of the race track

Start / finish area and expo

After race recovery | (c) Andi Frank

 

To Be Taken Seriously

If you do not have many mountainous kilometers on your feet do not try it. Very long ascents on difficult trails with very steep slopes (e.g. the incredibly beautiful Wiener Höhenweg trail with the view down to the lake / pond and on the right to the glacier), the wild Pfortscharte at 2.838 meters, the imposing Kapruner Torl with the glacier at 2.639 meters, challenging descents on passages with long and steep screes (Pfortscharte), boulders (Kapruner Torl) and extensive snow fields (Kalser Tauern at 2.518 meters and Kapruner Torl), several kilometers above 2.000 meters, five difficult high passages, and also dozens of kilometers on a highly technical alpine terrain. Add to this the unpredictable weather of the area. The storm is simply a matter of luck where will hit you and with what intensity and you have a great challenge in the pocket! The difficulty of the race is also summarized in the fact that only 52% of the starters finished the race, 161 finishes out of 308 starters of GGUT 110!

 

Descending through rocks before the large snow field | (c) wusaonthemountain.at

Belayed descents | (c) Andi Frank

Steep ascents and descents | (c) Andi Frank 

Ascending to Kapruner Torl | (c) wusaonthemountain.at

Catch your breath ... | (c) Andi Frank

 

Kaprun

A few kilometers outside the bustling but extremely picturesque Zell Am See with its magnificent lake, the peaceful Kaprun at an altitude of 780 meters is the center of the race. Very beautiful and picturesque, it is offered as a springboard for any mountainous activity you can think of. From the village numerous trails begin for the whole family that lead to impressive and easily accessible canyons, lakes, waterfalls and the list is really endless. The kids, while their parents have fun running 110 kilometers on the mountains, can have fun in an excellent fun park next to the start area with impressive roller coasters and more. In general, it is impressive how people there to exploit their natural wealth by providing safe activities for the whole family. Something that we here in Greece are struggling to start thinking about ...

 

Near Kaprun a perfect wooden trail for everyone!

The small river that crosses Kaprun

Peaceful Kaprun...

Stiegl beer and pretzel besides Zell am See! Because running is not only about running!!!



The Winners

1.500 runners from 42 nations participated at the 4th edition of Grossglockner Ultra-Trail®. 344 Athletes were at the start of the GGUT 110 and GGUT 110 | 2. 159 runners competed on the new GGT 75 and 770 athletes were at the start line of the KTT 50 and GWT 30 races. With five new records and top performances of international runners, the competition, which has been supported by its main sponsor DYNAFIT from the very beginning, has already occupied an important place in the trail-running scene.

 

The top runners in the presentation a few hours before the start of the race

 

GROSSGLOCKNER ULTRA-TRAIL® | 110 km | 6.500 m | 5 ITRA/UTMB-Points

1. Thomas Farbmacher (AUT) 14:25:41,6 hours*
2. André Purschke (GER) 15:21:38,5
3. Peter Gross (AUT) 16:01:02,2
4. Kristin Berglund (AUT) 17:03:15,0*
5. Juliette Blanchet (FRA) 17:32:53,8
6. Vroni Heidrich (GER) 20:37:22,9

 

Thomas Farbmacher, the winner of GGUT 110 | (c) Markus Fruhmann

 

GGUT 110 | 2 (Σκυταλοδρομία στην μεγάλη διαδρομή)

1. Gediminas Grinius/Pau Gil Capell – The North Face-Vibram 13:16:32,6 hours
2. Markus Amon/Klaus Gösweiner – Crossing Austria 14:17:59,2
3. Niklas Wagner/Matthias Hahn – Traunsteiner Buam 15:51:07,0

 

Pau Capel, Gediminas Grinius | (c) Markus Fruhmann

Grossglockner Trail (GGT 75) | 75 km | 4.000 m | 4 ITRA/UTMB-Points:

1. Hannes Namberger (GER) 8:01:38,0
2. Jordi Gamito Baus (ESP) 8:13:10,7
3. Markus Stock (AUT) 8:41:55,5

1. Meryl Cooper (UAE) 11:07:27,9
2. Evelyne Lachner (AUT) 11:10:04,0
3. Anna Stakova (CZE) 11:21:54,4

 

Hannes Namberger, winner of GGT 75 | (c) Markus Fruhmann


Kalser Tauern TRAIL (KTT 50) | 48 km | 2.000 m | 3 ITRA/UTMB-Points:

1. Florian Reichert (GER) 4:37:13,8*
2. Marcin Swierc (POL) 4:40:51,0
3. Tomas Hudec (CZE) 4:43:46,9 

1. Irén Tiricz (HUN) 5:35:59,2*
2. Veronika Limberger (AUT) 6:07:34,0
3. Dominique Lothaller (AUT) 6:45:05,2

WEISSEE GLETSCHERWELT TRAIL (GWT 30) | 31 km | 1.000 m | 2 ITRA/UTMB-Points:

1. Christian Kreidl (AUT) 2:49:27,1 hours*
2. Gerhard Schneider (SUI) 2:49:27,3
3. Matthias Baur (GER) 3:01:39,3 

1. Marcela Vasinova (AUT) 3:35:24,2
2. Christina Sautner (AUT) 3:38:27;2
3. Ida-Sophie Hegemann (GER) 3:41:10,4

*record times

 

 Thank you Hubert Rusch! | (c) Markus Fruhmann

 

Advendure was one of the media sponsors of this year's race and was hosted generously in Kaprun for our participation in the event. We would like to thank Mr. Hubert Resch, head of the Grossglockner Ultra-Trail, and the race organizers for the opportunity they gave us to live this beautiful experience!

Τάκης Τσογκαράκης

Η αγάπη του για το βουνό ξεκινάει πολλά χρόνια πίσω με τις πρώτες αναβάσεις στην αγαπημένη του Πάρνηθα και μετέπειτα με την σχολή Ορειβασίας του ΕΟΣ Αχαρνών. Το 2007 έτρεξε τον πρώτο του αγώνα ορεινού τρεξίματος και από τότε ονειρεύεται "όλο και ψηλότερα, όλο και μακρύτερα". Ελπίζει να το κάνει για πολλά χρόνια ακόμα...

www.advendure.com

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