billi bierling female mountaineer and journalist from Germany

Not 2,962m, but a gentle run up an Austrian hill

Richard and I before the race - getting ready for Zugspitze!

Richard and I before the race - getting ready for Zugspitze!

I am sitting here in my front garden with Richard looking at the medals we received after having done a mountain race today. The medal says: ”Zugspitz Extremlauf” – well, we did not do the ‘Zugspitz Extremlauf’ but I guess time was too short for the organisers to change the wording to “Gentle run up the Grubigalm at 1,714m”, and the space would not have been sufficient either.

You may wonder what happened to this infamous run up that famous mountain that calls itself “Germany’s highest top”. Well, it was once again the weather! After it had chucked it down all day on Saturday (Richard and I did not even manage to go for a gentle pre-Zugspitz run) it had dumped about 70cm snow on the mountaintops and the snow line fell to about 1,800m. I checked the website last night but there was no mention of re-organising or diverting the run. And when we picked up our numbers for the race at 8 o’clock this morning, the lady who handed us the bag with all the paraphernalia we did not really need, did not inform us about any changes.

Due to our ignorance, Richard and I were still in the believe that we were going to run up the highest mountain in Germany and even though it did not look very friendly up there we were quite excited about our upcoming adventure. However, when at 8.50am a journalist from a Munich paper came up to me and asked me whether he could interview me I told him that I had to start running in a minute. “No,” he said, “you are only starting at 10.30 – and you won’t be running up the Zugspitze either.” I looked at him in disbelief while Richard was still trying to warm up his muscles by running up and down the lawn. So, this nice gentleman told me that the organisers had diverted the race to another mountain as the snow and weather conditions were just too bad for running. “It looks better for skiing than for running,” I heard the organiser, Peter Krinninger, say on the radio.

Oops, I have just realised that the Zugspitze is out of the race

Oops, I have just realised that the Zugspitze is out of the race

Fair enough – but it would have been nice if someone had told us! But then again Richard and I were probably the only two people on the racing ground who did not know about the changes. Shortly afterwards I was interviewed by that Munich paper and the journalist told me that a lot of people were upset and disappointed that the race did not go up the Zugspitze. I think the organiser did not have another choice after what happened last year – “once bitten twice shy” – and even though it might have been possible as far as the Sonn Alpin hut, I can absolutely understand why Peter Krinninger did not want to take any risks this year. “I am here to have fun and I will have fun on the smaller mountain, even though it is only an altitude difference of 700m,” I told the paper. “But I think it is great that there are still people out there who organise events like that – even though they get criticised. If those people were not prepared to take the risk or the complaints from a lot of people, the rest of the population would not be able to enjoy event like that.”

Richard and I went to have another Café Latte (which turned out to be a huge mistake as my tummy was grumbling like mad during the run) and when we returned to the start at around 10.20am there were still a lot of people, who were excited about doing the small run.

There were professional looking runners, people with dogs, Nordic walkers with walking poles and people like Richard and I, who just wanted to have a fun run.

The race went fine even though it was a bit boring as it went up serpentines. However, Richard, who told me that he had not been running at all for about 4 weeks, made it in 1:24:39! He came 51st in his age group and 226th overall. I made it in 1:32:37 and came 12th in my age group and 21st overall. All in all 394 men took part and 43 women. If you are interested in other results, just click here.

I will probably try it again next year if I am in Germany and I hope Richard will make the effort again and join me as I do not think it is possible that the organiser will have a third year of bad luck with the weather – if he is still prepared to organise it after all the criticism he has received again this year.

2 Responses

  1. Jill said on July 20, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I was looking for a place to go to get out of the summer heat in Texas (100 degree days). Now I know where I can go! Thanks for telling us about this adventure. I’m sure the organizer appreciated your support!

    Reply
  2. Ms D said on July 20, 2009 at 3:50 am

    well done BB, i learned this last weekend too, you just can’t project manage the weather. looking forward to seeing you next weekend in hopefully sunny amsterdam.

    Reply

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