Today I will share with you a really special and not so well known race in the south of Germany. And I will tell you why if, you want to create some unforgettable memories this race (Marathon) could be for you.
course you can choose the mainstream events.
Berlin or Frankfurt? ok… they are special, but there are other races, less crowds, less spectators, taking you over spectacular landscape, and scenery……creating great memories.
I think if you just come and do the big city marathons…. some of you might be missing out….
Hi my name is Heiko. Let me share with you some insider running advice as to really great long distance running events in Germany, that are possible even if you don’t consider yourself a extreme runner.
If trails, gravel road, and stunning scenery off the beaten track experiences are what you want to tackle.. stay tuned…
This week we look at the allgäu panorama marathon, usually held in august. Where… ? riiiight here…
Leaving Munich in a south western direction… and two hours later you are there.
Idyllic Bavarian town. Which ….if you go there on the race weekend,………. doesn’t feel like there is a special event going to be held.
Hardly any signs, or road closures… nope… looks like a normal weekend ….
The race has different types of distances… a half marathon, full marathon, and a ultra.
Now first off it is a typical postcard type of scenery. Bavarian houses, lush green hills forest… and… actually the whole town is surrounded by amazing mountains….
Amazing if you look up… but more to that later. I have completed this race two times, and wanted to get a 9:15 finish. That was my goal. Why 9:15, well I had many races in the year, and knew that I was not 100% in shape to tackle this for me mighty event in a sub 9. Even though I would have loved it.
So stay tuned if it worked out….
The Ultra is always held in beginning of august. Temperature wise, it usually is a scorcher. I am talking of 30 degrees or 86 Fahrenheit or more. The last couple of years when I did the race, the day before the race was cloudy, and even the night before a tremendous thunderstorm….
The city has a large sports outlet, so in case you forgot something, don’t get upset… you can find that missing running gear you have.
The start is right in front of the sport store. At 6:00 in the morning. A bit hilly, blue sky, and the sun is just lightening up the sky.
A bit of an unspectacular start, but the serious faces of the 250 runners shows that there seems to be a bit of a challenge ahead… you run through the village, and then head in a northerly direction….
And then the climb starts.
You shouldn’t look up …. Because the top runners, that will finish the race in 6 hours, they are already charging up that hill and have opened up a tremendous gap.
Now at this stage it is becoming a bit lighter, as the sun is coming over the mountain tops. Some runners have the poles, others have a full backpack… I have found that for e all I need is a small drinking bottle, as there are 12 refreshment stations or aid stations. Now not all are the same.
In Germany its common to serve Isotonic, Water, Coke, Cake, Fruit, Bread, and Salt. That’s a main aid station. And there are only 4 on the whole journey. The other aid stations just have drinks and are manned with less staff.
That first climb is about 1600 meters in height… over a distance of 12 KM. And some stretches in between are quite steep, you will be using the safety wire to 1. Be safe than sorry, 2. To help you pull yourself UP the steep slope.
Then you have a bit of a downhill section… but don’t get overjoyed, because you need to climb a bit more before heading down further south towards the Austrian border.
This section is paved, and you run through holiday or touristic villages. The road is not cordoned off for you, so it feels like you are just out on a leisurely Sunday afternoon run.
Crossing into Austria, you head over a huge bridge really high, and a volunteer will stop the traffic for you to pass the road and head onto a popular walking trail …. Now here it is a long deceiving uphill.
The next Kilometers are going to be a mixture of joy and uphill… but in a way they feel less intimidating than the previous section. Why? Well there are many distractions … starting ff with families that are enjoying the walk… its very sunny, and if you have a hot day, you will be glad you wore a hat… even if you usually never wear one.
Next up you head into a cool forest, and through the trees spot the ski jump and the crystal clear Freibergsee…. Idyllic location… and the cool forest helps brighten up your mood. Usually the hikers give you a high 5, but again its not cordoned off, and you need to make sure you are on track.
There is a three kilometer flat stretch … that leads you towards Oberstdorf… the Erdinger Arena. Here there is a aid station you shouldn’t miss. Fuel up…
A long 10 Kilometer climb lies ahead of you. Dense forest. Hardly any hikers. Yes you are in the shade, but by now you have already covered 50 kilometers, and depending on your fitness level… well.. its … Over cattle gates, and the route becomes more narrow until it winds up to the Sonnenkopf. Sunny hill. Strange thing is, you can hear the people up on the hill. You cant see them, the forest is so dense, and the climb so strenuous…
You think you are nearly there, but no, another steep section.
It feels like it will never end.
And then another turn… until finally you have made it… sort of.
You reached 60 Km, and wait for it no more hills… it really and truly is all downhill from here.
You have a view of the finish line… its at the local swimming pool, only 9 Km to go.
Don’t linger… its tempting to sit down and just recover from that climb. Enjoy the spectacular view.
But now is the time to start heading down a rather difficult trail. Why difficult.. somehow, my legs didn’t want to respond to what I wanted them to do. I mean I had trained downhills but something weird was going on….
The running was so difficult because Running downhill requires lots of eccentric contraction, especially in the quadriceps and lower leg muscles.
The glutes and the hamstrings, they struggled to go over this single trail path… But, after a couple of kilometers I think about 4 … you hit tarmac. And boy how great that suddenly feels.
Windy road that leads you down all the way, and you just start going faster. At least I thought I was really speeding along, most probably just a small increase in pace, but the ease of the windy road really helps. You still don’t meet any spectators, perhaps one or two hikers, but they are struggling up the hill.
Then you run along the Fischbach or Schwarzenbach.. I am not sure, please comment below… and STILL you are all alone.
And suddenly I am getting worried.
Why… Well I had increased my pace, and now my energy level where seriously low, and I am still all alone.
But then … you head into town. Run through the suburbs. And some home owners, had placed their sprinklers out onto the pavement… the odd cheer…. And then… finally you hear the race organizer over the microphone… see the swimming pool roof, more cars, and then I am sure you remember this from your own finish line story… the people cheering, suddenly it dawns on you…
Made it …. 3rd time.
Best time ever, exactly or even better than predicted. 9:13.