The LGT Alpine Marathon in Liechtenstein only came to my notice by chance.
It fit my aim to ‘adventure’ and #GetAtHome in the Alps by way of #microexploration perfectly, though.
It was just a year ago that I had the chance to join an Outdoor Blogger Weekend, organized by Liechtenstein Marketing.
We went to Malbun and up on the Fürstin-Gina-Weg (among other things) at just the time of the LGT Alpine Marathon, in view of its finish.
A marathon almost crossing an entire country, that is just fine with me from a (rather amused) ultramarathon runner’s spirit.
(In a similar vein, I love that it’s possible, when in Rome, to run around the entire state of the Vatican.)
Add the alpine character of this marathon, and this year’s date just before the OutDoor Friedrichshafen trade fair, meaning I could run here on the way to the fair (as I did last year, with the Stelvio Marathon)…
Liechtenstein is easy to miss, especially on the marathon calendar. After all, the LGT Alpine Marathon is the only marathon in this European ‘dwarf state.’
Nestled into the Rhine valley, between Austria and Switzerland, lies Liechtenstein, famous for banking, expensive but also beautiful.
From the Rhine valley already, one sees the mountains all around. The way into these mountains is near, easy – and beautiful, too.
That alone makes it worth a visit, but its history and culture invite one to see more, and learn more, again.
Now, however, let’s run.
The LGT Alpine Marathon
The marathon starts relatively far north, in Bendern. In a somewhat strange place: Bib number pick-up and start are in (front of) the “Ospelt Anstalt” (basically, a meat producer).
You can notice what a small country that is even there.
The helpers, and not only they, are definitely familiar with each other. Most of the bib numbers are picked up just the hours before the run. The road/track is only being closed to traffic shortly before the start…
The race starts on flat terrain, through fields, onto and along the Rhine dam to Vaduz.
The trail runs right through Vaduz, the country’s capital with the duke’s castle above it – and then, up to the castle and on, the climb begins.
From Vaduz, one runs up the Triesenberg, through forest paths and trails and over mountain roads, with wider and wider views across the Rhine valley.
Soon(ish) after the Triesenberg, one comes up and over to Silum. Past the highest point of the marathon’s first half, one descends into the finish of the “Half Marathon Plus” at kilometer 25.
Half marathon runners are done here, those who go further keep right and turn onto the next part of the course:
Around Drei Kapuziner and Schönberg in a wide curve, with a nice up-and-down, then climbing up to the Saasförkle, the highest point on the course.
From there, one gets to the perhaps strangest point.
Right above Malbun, just over the finish area. One hears the announcer, talking of people entering the last sprint to the finish – but there are still more than 5 kilometers to go.
First, one still has to run the Panoramaweg above Malbun, around the valley, in another nice up and down trail run.
The hiking trail climbs up again a fair bit to kilometer 40, then it’s all down to the finish, with the last few hundred meters on the road through the village.
My Run Experience
Having woken up with a cramp in my calf, the day I spent hours on trains going to Liechtenstein and then walking around there with my backpack on, was not a good sign. I also had some gastrointestinal issues again. So, I was not exactly expecting a lot.
The Skyrace of the Hochkönigman made the Liechtenstein Alpine Marathon’s 1870 meters of ascent sound much less problematic, sure. This was still a longer distance and more road running. Another reason to wonder how this would go.
A Run of Beauty
The run turned out to be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable I have participated in.
Of course it is all exhausting enough.
It is a marathon distance, plus the added uphills and downhills, after all. It was the first such race where I could consistently march uphill with enough power and run on the flat and downhill sections, though.
Some of the ascents were hard enough, and the downhills not to be underestimated. But, it all never got as extreme as it often is in the mountain races I do otherwise, which often lead me to a point where nothing seems possible anymore.
Luck of the Day?
Maybe I just got lucky. At times, cramps did seem to start up, only to not really happen.
Maybe I should use shoes with more cushioning. (I ran this marathon in my old Nike Lunarepic, having expected even more road running than this alpine marathon turned out to have).
Whatever that was, the race was a celebration.
There were also rather more friendly faces in various places here, cheering everyone on, than I have ever seen.
Not that there is little cheerful audience in other places, but there was a very festive atmosphere here – and of course, it helped that I was feeling so good.
The LGT Alpine Marathon was also really well organized.
There were no problems getting my backpack transported to the finish. It was not only my stuff that awaited me there. There was also a shower tent with refreshingly warm water, regular bus shuttles down to Vaduz (or on to the start area). (And there would have been more refreshments…)
Thus, with good connections, I could nicely continue on my way to Friedrichshafen for the OutDoor. And thanks to my unexpectedly nice finishing time of just below five hours, with no need to rush.
That is a different story, though…