If anyone has seen Bill Murray’s movie "Groundhog Day," by stage 5 of the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run, you'll be able to relate. While there are a lot of things that change throughout the week while running across the alps, there are a few things that you can count on to stay the same.
Waking up, it will feel like your legs have been run over by a truck in the middle of the night, and you'll fight every mental struggle that tells you to just stay in bed. You will think that there is no way you can run today, only to drag yourself out of bed and miraculously find yourself finishing another stage hand in hand with your partner where you'll hug it out, high five or cartwheel across the finish line.
Prior to breakfast, you will likely need to pack your Salomon 100-liter duffle bag, provided to you at package pick up and leave your bag down at the reception of your guesthouse, or in the designated area if you're staying in the camps, it will be transferred to next stage town and will be waiting for you at the finish of the next stage.
When it comes to breakfast, you'll begrudgingly eat as the week carries out as you often won't be hungry - despite having tasty options like yogurt, nuts, granola, meat, cheese, bread etc...
You will either walk, bus or take a shuttle to the startling every day. You can leave a drop bag (race organizers provide you with a GORE bag) and then proceed into your starting gate, which is determined by your overall ranking every day. Often the start gates have staggered start times, to help spread out the runners at the start of some stages.
The excitement now begins as you hear the gun go off and soon wonder how it is you're able to run, when just moments earlier, you weren't sure you could get out of bed. You'll experience every type of weather imaginable and diversity in terrain, from paved paths, gravel paths, mountain trails and ridge lines.
No matter where you are or what the visibility is like, you'll hear cow bells echo around you and no matter what colours your shoes were when you start, they will eventually turn brown, not necessarily with mud.
· TIP #1 - Make sure you head into Transalpine Run with a cleaning plan for your shoes.
· TIP #2 - Bring two pairs of shoes.
The scenery, terrain and running among so many inspiring people will motivate you to push through the shattering lows and celebrate the brilliant highs that can come within moments of each other on any given day. Nobody is immune to this and everyone, at some point, will ride the wave.
Each aid station has a timing mat, where partners must cross over within a 2min time limit of one another or you'll get a team penalty. There will be 2-3 aid stations fully equipped with fruit, nuts, meat, cheese, vegetables, chips, cake, candy, gel, electrolytes, water and coke etc.
· TIP #3 - Avoid the temptation to park your butt and have a picnic. Grab some tasty snacks and keep moving!
No matter where you're from or how nice your community is, you will be in awe with how beautiful the villages and scenery is throughout the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run. The finish lines are nestled in quaint little towns, which are often well-known ski resorts and you'll quickly find yourself wanting to cram into the local fountain or creek with 20 other strangers, who soon become your friends. After retrieving your drop bag, you and your partner can head over to the photo booth, where you can get your picture of the day and even have the option to mail one to your fans back home! There are comfy GORE lounge chairs, beer and each local stage town hosts the post-race snacks. You can even book massage service with professional physiotherapists at Outdoor Physio GbR
· TIP #4 - Bring some extra cash though, as the gelato shops and pizzerias on your walk back to your guesthouse will tempt you every day!
Hopefully you’ll have some downtime to dry your clothing, shoes, stretch, nap, roll and relax before heading to the pasta party every evening. The pasta parties are often held in the town's community hall and, like the finish line spread, are hosted by the stage towns. The race organizers host the photos & video of the day, award ceremony, stage briefing & weather updates. Sometimes, the hosting town will provide local entertainment which I personally love.
· TIP #5 - despite being tired at the end of your stage, lay out your clothes, fuel, electrolytes, drop bag etc. for the next day. You'll want to do nothing but go to bed after the pasta party so don't leave this part of your routine for the evening or next morning.
Then it's back to your hotel to brush your teeth, plaster your body with peppermint oil and crawl into bed, only to roll over in the middle of the night and feel like your legs have been run over by the same truck again...
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 open 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