At the beginning of the ascent to the Traunstein

At the beginning of the ascent to the Traunstein

In 2007, after some time of regular running training, I decided to participate in 2008’s Bergmarathon “Rund um den Traunsee” (mountain marathon around Lake Traun).


By the organizers’ appellation, it is Europe’s most beautiful mountain run, according to many participants, it is one of the hardest events…


70 km, going up and down 4500 meters of altitude difference, are quite something, after all. (Admittedly, it is not a 100-miler, but there is everything from road running to mountain paths to forest and meadows…)
View Bergmarathon 2008 in a larger map

My GPS-POD actually recorded a distance of 85 km, but it jumped around like crazy…also, according to my Suunto t6c’s analysis, I burnt nearly 10500 kcal.
A normal day’s worth is 2000-3000 kilocalories.

It took me 14 hours and 10 minutes.
And yes, indeed, it is beautiful. And hard. – Just check out the altitude profile:


Bergmarathon altitude profile

Bergmarathon altitude profile

In the following, an illustration of the parts of the route and details on my performance on these parts, 2008.

The details on performance data come from a Suunto t6c’s logbook, having used that tool
(together with a GPS-POD) to record and control how I was doing…

Data for the entire tour: 

  • kcal are not displayed because only four digits can be shown – it was 10490 kcal
  • low point is below actual altitude because I reset the reference altitude only later
00_total1 00_total2 avg HR (total)
HR min/max
distance/speed total
total ascent
total descent
high point
low point

Lap 1Lap 1: Start Gmunden Schubertplatz up onto Grünberg

time lap 1 HR lap 1 distance/speed lap 1
ascent/descent lap 1
Lap 2

Lap 2: Grünberg to the Start of the Naturfreundesteig


Altitude recording may be a bit strange here, because I only remembered to set a correct reference altitude towards the end of this lap (getting to the edge of the lake again).

Lap 2 timeLap 2 HRLap 2 distance/speedLap 2 ascent/descent

Lap 3Lap 3: Naturfreundesteig up onto Traunstein

The beginning of this part – going straight up with the help of metal ropes and steps, fortunately promises worse than what the entirety of the trail is like. There are quite a few shuffles up rocks, grabbing on to the safety line, and even instances where the path suddenly goes up a sheer rock face into which metal steps have been mounted.
Nothing for the faint of heart.

Actually, the highest point is 1575 m – t6c is showing 1572. I guess I reset the reference altitude quite well.

Lap 3Lap 3 HRLap 3 distance/speedLap 3 ascent/descent

Lap 4Lap 4: Down the Traunstein to Mairalm

Uff. A lap to see the difference to the pros: Took me about 2/3s as long to get down as to go up. One of the record holders of this mountain marathon needs 47 minutes up, and 17 minutes down… How good this isn’t quite considered a race.

Lap 4Lap 4 HRLap 4 distance/speedLap 4 ascent/descent

Lap 5Lap 5: Mairalm to Karbach

Finally, nice forest roads again. Making good time, feeling in recovery from Traunstein.
Hearing bad things about what’s to come, though…

Lap 5Lap 5 HRLap 5 distance/speedLap 5 ascent/descent

Lap 6Lap 6: Karbach to Daxnersteig, up to the Spitzlsteinalm

I was warned about this, and it is all true. – The path is quite difficult to find (though that was better than expected), and the way up is long and difficult, and once going up, it goes up relentlessly, without a pause.
Heart rate suddenly peaked going up here, I felt like that might be it. It settled down, though, and once I was reaching the top, I refreshed myself and found I did have quite a bit more energy left in me.

By the looks of it, this is where the GPS-POD had the most problems with signal reception and thought the route was much longer – although, it did seem at least that long.

Lap 6Lap 6 HRLap 6 distance/speedLap 6 ascent/descent

Lap 7Lap 7: Down Spitzlsteinalm, through Rindbach to Ebensee

Not too bad a descent (some rocks, some tree roots, but we have seen worse already), and soon hitting paved roads. How long pounding the pavement through villages can seem. Especially when the feet have already taken a pounding and the shoes aren’t quite made for that ground.
Still, this is (more than, actually) the half-way point.

Lap 7Lap 7 HRLap 7 distance/speedLap 7 ascent/descent

Lap 8Lap 8: From Ebensee up onto the Feuerkogel

Stairs. They are supposed to help one move up, but the legs feel much heavier on them than when it’s just a path. Not to fear, though: There are quite enough mountain tracks to go up, too. It’s another long slouch up, but I chatted up the girl I had been trailing up the Grünberg, and we wound our way up steadily.
Plus, it’s the last of the high peaks already!

Lap 8Lap 8 HRLap 8 distance/speedLap 8 ascent/descent

Lap 9Lap 9: Down the Feuerkogel by way of Pledialm, to In der Kreh

On a path I had hiked up two weeks ago. It is as difficult as I remember, especially now that the feet hurt more and more: the trails of rocks and roots aren’t ideal, and the hard-packed surface of forest roads is not good either.
Still, the views are great, seeing the Traunstein in the distance and thinking that I have been there already today…

Lap 4Lap 9 HRLap 9 distance/speedLap 9 ascent/descent

Lap 10Lap 10: From In der Kreh up over Hochsteinalm, and down to Mühlbach

Through more forest paths, winding the way up – and then rather more nicely, i.e. slowly – back down again.
Anyways, only two more – dare I say it? – hills to go…

Lap 10Lap 10 HRLap 10 distance/speedLap 10 ascent/descent

Lap 11Lap 11: Mühlbach over and up Grasberg

What should be one of the easiest parts, only that the legs are getting very tired. Next time, I need to change not only into other (warm-weather) tights, but also into road running-shoes at this point.
Wait, am I really thinking about a next time already? Must be the heat… ;-)

Lap 11Lap 11 HRLap 11 distance/speedLap 11 ascent/descent

Lap 12Lap 12: Grasberg to Gmundnerberg

I hit the “lap”-button one too many times at Grasberg, hence the different lap number. I guess it reflects the exhaustion at that point. Still, marching on. The end is near.

Lap 12Lap 12 HRLap 12 distance/speedLap 12 ascent/descent

Lap 13Lap 13: Down Gmundnerberg, and through Gmunden to the Finish

A little surprised by how the path is going, it’s a bit different from how I expected. At least we are hitting a muddy trail again – now, that’s what the shoes I had decided to use would really be made for.
The paved roads slow me down again, but of course there was still enough energy left for running the last kilometer.
The last few meters, kids cheered me on and even ran with me. Sweet. And sort of embarassing.
That there is still enough energy left for the final run, and even for embarassment… I’m counting it as a good sign.

I did it. I turned 30 this year, the mountain marathon had its 20th anniversary.This auspicious time, the first try, I finished.

Lap 13Lap 13 HRLap 13 distance/speedLap 13 ascent/descent
Into the finish