The weather during this year’s mountain run starting in the district of Alpendorf in St. Johann im Pongau was optimal for runners. After a very hot and sunny June, the weather conditions on this particular day were very pleasant. Around 80 starters undertook the main run.
The route packs a punch:
From the start in Alpendorf, the tarmac road leads upwards at an incline of around 10-12 % past the hotels in Alpendorf, via the Sternhof. Then the terrain changes to gravel track. The ascent from there starts off quite gently, so you can (if you need to) recover from the initial 3 km. Up to the next station the Kreistenalm, (there you’ll find a freshment stop with drinks) it’s just a further 1.5 km along the hiking trail. Having finally reached Kreistenalm, the most demanding part of route (aptly named “knee biter”) up to the mid-station at the Obergassalm begins. This route section surely takes its toll on even the best runners and running is well and truly over.
The ascent robs you of your last “ounce“and everyone tries to more or less just get through this section somehow. The positive aspect of this part of the section is, however, that depending on your physical condition you relatively quickly reach the mid-station and/or the Obergassalm. After then there are “only” around 200 m elevation gain to conquer from the cable car mountain station to the finish line at the Gernkogelalm. You can run along this stretch too. Here up on the “Ghost Mountain” is where the majority of the spectators are waiting. This running event is found to be a welcome attraction for many and they clap and cheer on the runners.
With this added motivation and the finishing line in sight, you then conquer the final ascent up to the finishing line.
The best times for this year’s event were just over 43 minutes for men and 56 minutes for women! The oldest runner this year was 84 years old and he took 2 hours and 50 minutes – the oldest female runner was 75 years old and she managed the course in 1 hour and 37 minutes!
What kind of sports enthusiasts take part in this competition? Basically they’re all ambitious hobby runners and competitive athletes. As with any other competition, it’s not wise to take part if you haven’t had enough training. Whereby running uphill with suitable footwear is basically a low impact “method of movement”. The most pleasant thing about the Gernkogel Mountain Run is that the journey down on the cable car is included in the entry fee.
This year I didn’t have time to take part in the race myself, however the past years I was generally at the start and during the competition I often thought to myself: “Why on earth am I’m doing this?!!”. But when you arrive at the finishing line within a respectable time (I need around 1 hour and 5 minutes), it feels really “cool”. Next year I’m definitely taking part – as then (Sunday, 14th June 2020) the Gernkogel Mountain Run is a fixed part of the Austrian State Championships. Which means all great local athletes will be taking part and there’s nothing better for hobby runners than to be able to test their skills against them.
So, now it’s time to finish this article, and if you wish to be successful, it means you have to set your focus on training. And in any case, running is one of the simplest sports to undertake. Assuming you have suitable clothing and good footwear, you can do it anywhere. So there’s no excuse at all – even the former American President Barack Obama always found time and space to go for a run despite his stressful job – so “keep moving”.
Photo credits: aufiowi.at