What does one tell – what is there to tell? – of the sixth participation in the same event, the Bergmarathon (mountain marathon) around the Traunsee lake?
Who does something like that and why?
Well, funny thing.
Many people love to complain of the torture of running the same training round more than once a year, it seems. Soooo boring.
Then again, this Bergmarathon has enough participants who have done it 10 times or more…
Doing such a tour more than once has its advantages, too.
Knowing the trails makes it much easier to enjoy the route and all the great views it has to offer. Your first time, you have to expend enough energy and time just to make sure you are on the right path.
Having finished the ‘race’ before also makes it easier to assume that you can do it again.
And knowing the time(s) from before, one can compare if one has become faster or slower.
My first participation at the mountain marathon was in 2008.
It was the 20th anniversary of the run, I had just turned 30 and was between the foreign study (and work) year I had spent in Latvia and attempts at finally making it to East Asia… which then turned into my three years in Hunan.
In the meantime, I made it to the Bergmarathon another four times, under various conditions and with different times, but trending faster.
This time, to the 30th Bergmarathon, I almost didn’t make it.
Money was just too tight at the beginning of the year. Closer to the summer, though, I had the money and thanks to the special registration for people with 5 or more prior participations, I could register that late.
And it should turn into a special run.
A Social Run
The start went through Gmunden, as always. With me in the very back, as I had waited to turn on the watches I wanted to test there in peace.
As always, there was quite enough light in the town and running together with others. At the beginning of the hiking trail up the Grünberg, I wanted to rather turn on my headlamp – and it did nothing.
A Light in the Dark
No idea what had happened, but the headlamp just refused to do anything.
I made sure to stick around the others so I could see the path thanks to their lights. Back down from the Grünberg, I found someone who ran a similar pace and was fine running with me so I could (relatively, given how slippery the trails here were already) safely run.
Towards the Naturfreundesteig, the beginning of the climb up the Traunstein, it got light enough to see without a headlamp. And it got social of a different kind, because it was quite the line of people climbing up…
But at least, this way there was a slight feeling of being together in this as the mountain, further up, was in storm and clouds.
There were more times I should need others.
Up the Daxnersteig to the Spitzelsteinalm, aas usual, things got tough enough that I wondered why I shouldn’t just quit.
I felt a need to sit and rest on the steep and soft path regularly. At least, until someone came by and picked me up, so to speak.
In Ebensee, at the halfway point, it was clear again that I would go on – and going up the Feuerkogel, I again needed a pacemaker. Even though – or maybe as? – the beginning of that climb had gone well and fast.
Even before half that climb up was over, I had to realize that I somehow couldn’t quite manage my hydration. I had to ask some hikers on their way down for some water. And they were happy to help.
Another Kind of Down
As the climbs regularly led me to a down, the downhills were strangely elating.
Already going down the Mairalm-Steig from the Traunstein, it was all slow. The trail is always slippery, with all the loose rocks and polished stones, and now it was also wet.
Down from the Spitzelsteinalm, it was muddy as always, and then muddier.
My slightly painful knee promised problems, but with the Icebug Oribi and my hiking poles, I felt quite safe going down, if slow.
Eventually, all the downhills somehow went slow, but re-energized me.
Somehow, fortunately, I had a false memory of having needed around 14 hours for the run. And of having heard the siren that gets tested Saturday noons on my way up the Feuerkogel also before.
Finally, I would have to realize that I had only taken as long as I would need this time once before, on my first participation. The runs in between, I had actually got closer to a finish time of 12 hours.
The slowness this time seemed good, however, and not just because the conditions made it necessary.
Thanks to this slowdown, I was still able to run on the last third of the tour, at least going down. Which felt different from before.
It was all still slow, more concerned about getting down safely, but at least I went on steadily – and that, in spite of all the downs and issues.
In the end, and ever more, this seems to be what I enjoy about ultramarathons: They show that it can all go on, somehow; one just has to go on.
A Good Ending After the End
Having got back home, I spread out my stuff and went to bed. And the next morning, I had to realize that my stuff had not included my running top and tights any more.
Somehow I had managed to think I packed them in well when I went showering, but apparently misplaced them…
Some days later, however, having asked about my things, the volunteer responsible for the lost and found contacted me. My running clothes are special enough, she had recognized them among the things that had ended up with her.
A few more days, a few detours, and I was back in the area of Gmunden and back with my stuff – which may not sound like it should be such a reason for joy, but considering my finances and the near-impossibility of finding CW-X tights in Europe, I could hardly have replaced these things.
It’s as it should be.
Not a personal record, but impressions that were all the better, memories that are beautiful.