“So, does it warrant the ‘Skyrace’ label?” Thomas Bosnjak, the race director, asked me about the Hochkönigman Skyrace. With a grin.
I had, just having finished, had to complain how hard it had been…
The fortress of Hohensalzburg towers above Salzburg; the museums on and around the adjacent Mönchsberg give it even more cultural cachet and obvious Alpine character…
And yet, when you measure it in your own steps, you really get to know a place, and it turns out differently from how you may have thought it was.
In my engagement with the cold, and the running in it, mountains play a role. Of course.
As I live at the very end of the Alps, where there is more of the Hungarian Plains than even of hills, their role is unfortunately limited. First, I have to be able to get to some mountains…
The long-awaited event, the first edition of the Stelvio Marathon, came and went.
Austria’s preeminent figurehead and organizer of trail runs calls, of course you come.
Last year, I had gone to the Hochkönigman Trail Running Festival for the Marathon Trail, and ended up also helping interpret the race briefings in English.
This year, I had not been planning on coming, but Thomas Bosnjak asked if I wanted to serve as his interpreter again, so I went.
I’m not actually heading out into the mountains right now, but it’s time to finally show you one of my favorite “trails” there.
The idea of showing more of my usual trails in videos actually grew on me last year already… and then I promptly never put up the trail view video of what is easily the best-known and perhaps most interesting trail I’ve taken regularly:
The Naturfreundesteig up the Traunstein.
So, I went to another marathon…
Last year, same weekend, I went to Rome for the marathon there, the Maratona di Roma.
More than 12 hours by overnight train (so, not exactly in the neighborhood) to get to a place that is “home,” not least in how it is historically quite connected with all of Europe, in various ways.
Which is all to say that that had been in the spirit of #GetAtHome…
The Bratislava Marathon this year formed an interesting counterpoint and addition.
I also took a train to get there. The same train I often take to commute between my home and Vienna, just in the other direction.
To Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, city I could almost see from where I live. City I’d never been to.
Bratislava turned out to be rather nice. And the marathon, tough again. And again, in other ways from those before.
The particular challenge(s) of this marathon:
For one, it includes quite a few sections that are basically out-and-back runs on major roads.
So, you have a long way to go one way, seeing other runners who have already turned the corner and are far ahead, before you finally get to the turning-around point and head back yourself. Past more or fewer runners still coming up behind you…
Secondly, the weather turned out just a little too nice.
It was mainly sunny, and the temperatures eventually climbed up to 26 degrees Celsius past noon. Which was decidedly not the kind of condition in which my last training runs (or “runs,” like the trail up the Feuerkogel) had taken place.
Finally, the Bratislava marathon is one of those races where the marathon distance is achieved in the more challenging of simple ways: If you don’t just want to run the half marathon, you simply go on a second round along the same track…
Still, even with my training state not the best, let alone ready for these conditions, the Bratislava Marathon provided an interesting contrast between roads leading outwards, showing a bit of the city outskirts, and going back inside the city and through its pretty historic center again.
And long straight roads seemingly going on forever, that is just on par with all the landscape right around here.
It always makes for a bit more of a (mental) challenge than running, and especially running a marathon, can already be.
That just makes finishing all the better…
If you want a big expedition, this wouldn’t be for you.
Microadventures are finally gaining in popularity, though, and if you just want to see if you can make it up a mountain, as fast or leisurely as you wish, then this may be an ideal trail for you.
If you want or need to go extra-leisurely, there’s even a cable car going up there (or down from there, if the downhill would make your knees suffer too much).
Sure, it is almost too easy a trail to describe it.
Except for a few turns, especially at the very beginning, still in the town of Ebensee, this trail just goes up to the Feuerkogel in one pretty continuous climb.
When you’ve reached the top of that mountain, where the cable car goes, you could still go on into (and even across) the Höllengebirge, but are more likely to just turn right back around. Perhaps after a little time in one of the huts up there offering food and drinks…
So, if this is your microadventure, it is very micro.
It is a very pretty little tour, or a nice mountain running session, all the same.
Perfect for me now, on my training path to the Stelvio Marathon.
It is also a trail with easier chances for rests and no problems turning around, with enough roots and rocks to demand attention but no serious climbs that present chances for bad falls.
Perfect for beginners and people you want to show around a bit, but don’t know the experience and fitness level of.
This is exactly why I went here once again last weekend, with a fan who’d taken me up on my offer to get in touch and see if we could do something together.
If you’re wondering why I’m calling this tour “From Traunsee Beach…”: Well, this is where we also went, before our train back came:
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