Trailrunning - Daniel Jochum | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Philipp Reiter

11 Sep. 2015 · Summer Activities
Daniel Jochum

Gore-Tex Transalpine Run 2015

After the Walser Trail Challenge comes the next Walser Trail Challenge!

This being the case, local Walser Daniel Jochum does not sit back and relax – quite the opposite in fact. Here, he reports on his experiences of taking part in the 2015 Gore-tex Transalpine Run. The run starts in neighbouring Oberstdorf.
I embarked on what is undoubtedly the toughest stage race in Europe, which took place from the 29th August until the 5th September, together with Patrick Caprano. GORE-TEX TRANSALPINE RUN (286 km / elevation gain 16,310 m)
My result: 33:44.31 h | Total: Ranked 9th

Gore-Tex Transalpine run  | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: PlanB Event Company GmbH

8 stages | 4 countries | 2 runners | 1 dream

‘The TAR is a trans-alpine race in eight stages which involves athletes running in a team of two from bayerische Oberstdorf (Germany) via Lech and St. Anton am Arlberg to Landeck (all in Austria), then onto locations in Switzerland; Samnaun and Scuol, and finally to St. Valentin and Sulden in Italy.

After considering it for a while, I decided to get involved and ran once again with my partner from the previous year and good friend Patrick Caprano. I would like to thank my sponsors Martin Tykal from the NTC Trailrunning shop in Oberstdorf and the company Salomon for my starting spot at this legendary race and for the fantastic equipment from Salomon and Suunto.

Trailrunning - Daniel Jochum | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Philipp Reiter

Day 1: Oberstdorf (D) - Lech (A) | 34.6 km | 2,083 m altitude

‘The route from the starting line of the TAR leads over the Allgäuer Alpen from Oberstdorf  and over the 2,214-metre high Fiderescharte and the 1,688-metre high Schrofenpass to Warth in Lechtal.’

The late start at 10.00 am and the merciless midday heat was utterly punishing and meant the participants had to run at a sensible pace. I was also not spared from the misery inflicted by the heat and I battled on as far as Lech in a time of 04:42.7 hrs. This meant I was ranked 10th for the first time.

Daniel Jochum | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: PlanB Event Company GmbH

Day 2: Lech (A) - St. Anton (A) | 247 km | 1,899 m altitude

‘The second stage initially continued along an extremely steep and winding stretch from the Lech ski resort in the heart of the Lechtaler Alps on to the 2,339-metre high Rüfikopf which is Lech’s local mountain. Next over the Rauhekopfscharte (2,415 m) and the Erlijoch (2,430 m) in the heart of the Lechtaler Alps across a wonderful steep track into the Almajurtal and then on to the 1,922-metre high Erlach Alps. The second long climb in this stage brought us up to the 2,543-metre high Valvagehrjoch beneath the famous Valluga, before the next downhill stretch down to St. Anton.’

I found this section really enjoyable as we were able to run in the cool shade. I skipped my way uphill and kept overtaking a number of teams. When we had reached the top, the trail became quite slow and tricky. We could then really burn up the final downhill stretch.
We reached St. Anton in 03:40.30 hrs and were ranked 9th. I greatly enjoyed my recovery time in a cosy reclining chair at the NTC Trailrunning  Shop’s stand.

Gore-Tex Trailrun-Event | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: PlanB Event Company GmbH

Day 3: St. Anton (A) - Landeck (A) | 39.9 km | 2,019 h altitude

This stage is still beautiful even though we have not crossed any mountains or passes ... The first climb starts from St. Anton to the fork in the trail to the Leutkirchner Hut and then continues just as quickly back down to Pettneu. The next few kilometres along the River Inn are flat (it was lovely and cool). From Flirsch we then headed up to the ski resort. In contrast to the beautiful trails through the forest that we followed on the ascent, we had to scramble down the Teerstrasse to Plans ... The final 7 kilometres as far as Landeck were again slightly hilly and were fun to run. 

Although we had run a flawless race and we constantly tried to adhere to the rules of the game, a careless mistake proved to be our downfall during this stage. We received a one hour time penalty due to a lack of fluidity ... We certainly could have avoided this! We therefore unfortunately ended this stage with a time of 06:01.17 hrs instead of the 05:01.17 hrs and were ranked 27th ...

Ziel erreicht | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: PlanB Event Company GmbH

Day 4: Landeck (A) - Samnaun (CH) | 45.7 km | 2,861 m altitude

‘The stage from Landeck  high up into the mountains to Fisser Joch (2,432 m) presented the most extreme and long climb in the TAR tournament. It once again entailed a truly beautiful ascent across the Arrezjoch to Ochsenscharte. However, there wasn’t very much time to enjoy the view. We reached our final destination at the entrance to the village of Samnaun after continuing along 8 kilometres of flat to moderately steep terrain.

I followed the same strategy for each stage:
- Ensure that you are well hydrated before you go to the starting line
- Start slowly and work your way up slowly
- Alternate between drinking water and isotonic drinks
- You can get some soup at Sußi’s at V2
- Keep your head cool (splash water in your face whenever you have the opportunity)
- Follow it through to the end
We were ranked 7th this time having achieved a time of 6:05.49 hrs. We had not deviated from the plan ;)

Die Jagd beginnt | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: PlanB Event Company GmbH

Day 5: Mountain sprint at Samnaun | 6.23 km | 731 m altitude

Even though it seems ridiculous, the sprint really does have something to offer. The mountain sprint is scornfully known as the ‘day of rest’, however, it is my favourite stage.

The teams start at 20 second intervals in reverse order, i.e. the leaders of the pack set off at the end. Each runner runs independently. It can be difficult during the ascent when you want to overtake the slower runners ... The rain had also softened this stretch which had become extremely slippery.
The slowest time achieved by the team is used for the overall ranking. I ran this stretch in 47.48 minutes so my individual overall ranking was 9th .

Gore-Tex Trailrunning | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: PlanB Event Company GmbH

Day 6: Samnaun (CH) - Scuol (CH) | 37.1 km / 2,064 m altitude

‘The sixth stage started from Saumnaun, a town renowned for its privileged duty-free status, and proceeds across the isolated Silvrettaberge to the beautiful municipality of Scuol in Unterengadin. During this stage, we cross over the 2,700-metre mark on two occasions. After a long ascent right from the start in Samnaun to Zeblasjoch (2,539 m) and on to Fuorcla Val Gronda where we finally cross the border into Switzerland. Glorious trails finally bring us into Val Laver and up the steep ascent to Fuorcla Champatsch (2,730 m) to our final destination Scuol.

This was such a fantastic day! I felt brilliant at the start (the weather was perfect) – the atmosphere a little subdued. I moved fleet-footed up to the Zeblasjoch (my pulse was around 150 beats/minute). I was simply in seventh heaven. During the final ascent I then helped the leading Mixed-Tea Tuga Wear and pushed the slightly exhausted lady to the top.
We reached our destination in Scuol in fourth place in a time of 4:39.19 hrs.

Dandelion in the evening light | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Oliver Farys

Day 7: Scuol (CH) - St.Valentin (ITA) | 37.8 km | 1,633 m altitude

‘During the seventh stage, we crossed the border to Italy or South Tyrol at the Schlinigpass (2,261 m) which meant that the field had finally arrived in the Southern Alps after crossing the main ridge of the Alps. This spectacular climb through the Uina Gorge is the most wonderful sight anyone could wish to see ... You have to see it to believe it. Just like the unique panorama trails in the Sesvenna Alps which truly set any runner’s pulse racing. 

There was unfortunately a price to pay as we were unable to stick to our plan ... Patrick really struggled and was unfortunately unable to truly enjoy this spectacular running experience.
I pushed him up the climb and pulled him across the plateau by his sticks. We finally achieved a time of 4:09.42 hrs which put us in 8th position. However, we were rewarded with a fantastic evening meal at the Hotel Etschquelle in Reschen am See.

 Tree in nature | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Andre Tappe

Day 8: St.Valentin (ITA) - Sulden (ITA) | 38.1 km | 1,599 m altitude

Unfortunately, we couldn’t run the original route through the Bärenjoch due to the freshly fallen snow, so we had to take an alternative route ... This meant that the final ascent was slightly shorter. However, this turned out to be fabulous stage and a magnificent way to end an unforgettable week.

The frontrunners started off at fast pace as we ran up the cycling trail. I also kept pace and we did not lag far behind until we reached V3 where we were greeted by our friends and family who had come to collect us: Sarah, Papa, Wolfgang, Heide and Saskia. This thought sustained us as we ran the final kilometres up the mountainside to our final destination which once again turned out to be remarkably beautiful ...
When we arrived in Sulden in 3:54.44 hrs, we were finally ranked fourth – a truly magnificent finish!

During the final few kilometres, I thought about the previous days and looked forwarded to reaching the finishing line. These feelings were difficult to grasp: on the one hand, you feel happy that it is over so quickly, however on the other hand, you ask yourself ‘what now ...?’
Joy and suffering are close bedfellows during this event, however, when you reach the finishing line, you immediately forget all the stresses and strains. Melancholy instantly sets in: it is such a shame that it is all over now ...
The familiar routine is now missing: go to the hotel - clean your Zeug (kit) - stretch - shower - EMS - relax - eat - pack - sleep. However, by the time we reached V2 I said to Sußi: ‘Today there is no need to think about tomorrow ...’
We have given everything we could and have tried to bring out the very best in ourselves every day. The best thing about this run for me was that I felt that I was improving each day.
I would like to once again thank everyone who has thought of me/us during these 8 days and who has joined in the excitement of the event.
I would also naturally like to give a big thanks to all my patrons and sponsors who have made everything possible.

Trail running on the summit ridge | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Isaak Papadopoulos

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