An alpine love story
Its five months since Casper and I finished the Transalpine Run – a seven day stage race from Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, across the Austrian Alps, to Brixen in Italy.
I’ve thought about writing about it a few times over the past 5 months, but I’ve had no real inspiration to get writing. In my mind what I thought was going to be an awesome adventure had kind of passed in a flash and I don’t think I really wanted to write about it.
All I could think to write was a rather boring day by day account of what happened. Day 1, got up, ate, ran, ate, stretched, slept. Day two to seven was pretty much the same apart from a lot less eating and a lot more cold peppermint tea! (see why further on!)
The “Transalp” was what 2016 running was all about for me. All my training and races were leading to this. The V3K, the Lakes Sky Ultra, Tromso and the many wonderful weekends in the Lake District. I had loved every moment of the training and with each race I had surprised myself with what (for me!) were super performances!
The story ends with us finishing – all 250km and 15000m of up. I was though left with a feeling I had more than a little more to give. I wasn’t disappointed, but apart from feeling more than a little relived that we had finished I wasn’t really feeling a lot more. Maybe it was the thought of how on earth I was I going to run the The Glen Coe Skyline a week later, or mine and Casper’s impending wedding 2 weeks away!
Then just a few days ago I saw a photo of Casper and I and I realised what our Transalp story was about. It was a love story, our special adventure – maybe the reason I didn’t want to share it with the world! So this story is more of a brief account of our week in the mountains!
The race is run in pairs. This could be good and bad. For me and Casper it was good. Without him I’m unlikely to have made it to Italy.
Day one – Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Lermoos (36.5km, 2088m ascent, 4 hours 29 minutes, 7th)
I ate lots and felt great!
Day two – Lermoos to Imst (33.8km, 2023m ascent, 4 hours 2 minutes, 7th)
I ate lots and felt great again!
Day three – Imst to Mandarin im Piitztal (47.9km, 3037m ascent, 7 hours 38 minutes, 7th)
This was the longest day. Today we ran up to 2000m and I felt it. Running up high was beautiful but hard on the lungs. To the locals 2000m wasn’t high – but coming from England where the highest hill is less than 1000m it was high! It was a long day too. A long days meant less time to recover too!
Oh and I rocked the euro look too!
Day four – Mandarin im Piitztal to Solden (25.8km, 1887m ascent, 4 hours 43 minutes, 11th)
This is when it all started to go rather wrong. Its an abrupt start – starting at an altitude of 1673 and over climbing 2300m in 15km to the highest point in the race, the Rettenbachjoch Glacier at 3000m!
I struggled to breath from the off and my whole body felt so heavy, like lead.
As we tipped over 2800m I began to wobble and I don’t really remember much of the rest of the day until we dropped down below 2000m. Casper recalls how he did his best to keep me upright!
Arriving at the finish line that day, I just sat in a heap on the floor.
I had a stomach massage that night, which in hindsight was a really stupid thing to do.
Day five – Solden to St. Leonard i. Passerier (33.3km, 1453m ascent, 4 hours 30 minutes, Stage position: 12th)
Eating had become unbearable. Every time I ate, my stomach would swell a little bit more. if you don’t eat, moving forwards becomes rather difficult! There were 3 more days of running to do so I had to eat and with it came more pain.
This was the worst day and I began wishing the days away until the end. But Casper was there, physically pushing me up every hill, willing us along.
Day six – St. Leonard i. Passerier to Sarnthein (3.6km, 2440m ascent , 6 hours 23 minutes, 16th (crikey!))
I really couldn’t bear the thought of eating and I was beginning not to care too. I managed a morsel of breakfast. The only other thing I found I could bear to consume was cold peppermint tea. I filled my soft flasks with peppermint tea and trundled to the start line.
We started really slow. Flat and uphills were ok, not good but ok. I thought I had made it through the rough days. But then with every step downhill the pain in my stomach and diaphragm was unbearable – I winched with every step, and cried a lot – for the whole 20km descent!
Casper was still there though, right next me – passing me bottles of cold peppermint tea and telling me we could do this!
Day seven – Sarnthein to Brixen (36.4km, 1934m ascent, 5 hours 22 minutes, 10th)
The last day. Again a slow start, but I knew we were going to make it now. I felt pretty rubbish having dropped a lot of places in the general classification with a 16th day 6 position, but it was the final day and just wanted to try and enjoy it!
Today was just one big hill, one 26km climb and then a 10km/2000m descent , yes a TWO THOUSAND metre decent over just TEN KILOMETRES! This was either going to ridiculously slow and painful or if my body allowed, it was going to be super awesome and we were going to fly!
And we flew…!!!!!
We gained at least 20 places and (6 mixed teams places) in the those last 10 kilometres, and finished the day in 10th, allowing us to to claw our way back to a top 10 mixed team finish overall! We finished and on a high. I was a very happy lady.
Overall position: 10th
Would I do it again? Without a doubt I would!!