In 2011, when I first ran the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run (TAR), I felt there were so many things to consider and sort out before the race. Not only were we new to the event and unsure how everything would unfold, visiting Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy for the first time also held its share of unknowns. One of the beauties of a new experience is that you will never be able to re-create those first precious memories again. This will now be my 8thtime returning to TAR and not one year has even been remotely the same.
I wanted to share some tips and breakdown some of the logistics that can help runners and family/friend supporters have a smooth TAR experience.
The guesthouses (or pensions) in the Alps have become one of my fondest travelling experiences. We have consistently been welcomed with open arms by host families and there is nothing like checking into a hotel that is close to the finish line, has tasty food options and provides a good night sleep when you're so tired you can barely stand.
If you’re not from the area and don't have 400 hours to search for hotels in 8 different towns (which includes hours in google maps to determine how close the hotel is to the start/finish line) then you can call or email the local tourism offices or Plan B to assist you in the booking process. You do, however, need to be careful to ensure that you're booking in the right town, as many of the town names are the same - only one is in Germany and one is in Austria (for example). In additional, I offer a booking service every year and there is also another company that you can book through via the Gore-Tex Transalpine website, for additional booking fees.
Although most guesthouses include breakfast, ensure to ask if they will accommodate the early stage start when booking as most places don't start breakfast until 7 or 8am, often when the stage starts.
If you value having your hotel provide food service, then consider booking half board if you're so tired that you can't make the pasta party one night or want food right after you run and you want dinner at the pasta party.
If you're accommodation is not within walking distance to the start/finish - ask the hotel for their local taxi phone number or visit the Plan B Race Organizers to have someone from tourism or TAR staff help with town maps, directions or shuttle information. Also, if your booking you accommodation on your own, please ensure you let Plan B know where you are staying for baggage pickup/drop off at each hotel.
Plan B offers an option for those who don't want to stay in hotels or guest houses and prefers sleeping mats, sleeping bags and a hostel atmosphere. The camps are group accommodations (like gyms) and are offered in some of the stage towns along the way for only 57 Euro per person. This fee includes breakfast and bag transport. This year, you can camp in Garmish-Partenkirchen, St. Leonhard and Sarnthein, however, you must book hotels for the other stages. Please note it is not possible to book individual nights at the camp.
The camps are first come first serve, in terms of finding a spot and the bathrooms are shared. While it may not be the most ideal option for everyone, it does help cut the cost of accommodations down for anyone who is budget conscious.
When you register in Garmish-Partenkirchen, you will be given a 100L Salomon duffle bag to transport your gear for the week. These bags will have your bib number on the outside so it is easy to identify and ensures your luggage gets to the proper hotel. You can put any additional items you may be travelling with (but may not need for race week) in your original suitcase and drop it back off at registration. Race organizers will shuttle this bag to the finish, where you can pick it up in Brixen at the end of the race.
The race organizers do top notch job of luggage transport and pick up your bags in the morning from your guesthouse and deliver them to your hotel, in the next town, so they are there when you arrive. You will soon get into a routine of placing your bags downstairs in your guesthouse or designated areas from the camps early each morning. The times may vary based on when each stage starts and race organizers will go over this information at the pasta parties / stage briefing every night.
You will be given a GORE drop bag, which you can use as a drop bag daily. This helps make it easier to have your Salomon duffel bag packed up and downstairs before you go for breakfast and still have a spot for some essentials and a place to put any recovery food or items you may want immediately upon finishing each stage.
The first year we travelled to Austria, I remember being waived over by a white van, with a guy hanging out the window waving a paddle and yelling something at us. As it turned out, we needed a vignette pass to travel the autobahn in Austria, and ended up being a 200 Euro fine. For anyone travelling and driving in Austria - you need to stop at a designated station to purchase a vignette pass, before using the autobahn. In Italy, there are toll booths you will pass through doing in and out of the country. Here is some info on the vignette passesbefore you go.
Friends and Family Pass
We have been travelling as a family to TAR for the past 7 years. Our son was 10 the first time and he has joined us 3 other times where we spend additional time travelling in Germany, Austria & Italy either before and/or after the race. Race organizers offer a sweet package for any friends or family who want to come along to cheer, support and take part as a spectator of the race for only 160 Euro. This package is quite extensive and includes 8 pasta party dinners, a detailed spectator book with maps of start/finish areas in each town, directions on the best way to travel from town to town with an escort option and directions to spectating spots along the route and much more. You can read all the details and book your friends and family package by clicking HERE. Take the worry of any travel away and let Plan B's friends and family package support you!
Rene Unser is a 7 time Gore-Tex Transalpine Run participant and has finished hand in hand with her partners, finished solo, DNF'd, has won stages and finished 3rd overall in the team women's category. Throughout all these experiences, she has learned so much about herself, partner racing and stage racing and is working with PLAN B to share monthly stories and insights that will help others make the most out of their 2018 journey across the Alps. Rene also writes training plans for novice and experienced runners, which have helped teams successfully finish this event every year. #keeponrunning #transalpine2018