August 5, 2016

So close to the heavens – Daniel Jung breaks course record at Ultra Skyrace

The Ultra Skyrace in South Tyrol is one of the toughest running challenges in the Alps. Gore Running Wear® athlete Daniel Jung traversed the high-Alpine course of 121 kilometers (75.2 miles) with 7,554 meters of vertical (24,783 feet) in an unbelievable 17:34.37 – a new course record. In the following interview, he talks of the highs and lows, as well as the right apparel to have at the Ultra Skyrace.

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Won the race and broke course record: GORE RUNNING WEAR® Athlet Daniel Jung. © by Harald Wisthaler

The Ultra Skyrace is now behind you. Looking back a few days later, how do you assess the run?

Daniel Jung: It was a hard battle, a real emotional up and down with times when you had to fight so hard with yourself. Actually though I had the feeling at the very start of the run: “You are really ready today to hit it hard.” There were times, however, during the run when I worried that my goal of breaking the course record wasn’t going to happen But it was really a cool feeling to know toward the end that the victory was almost certainly a sure thing. And because the Ultra Skyrace took place in my hometown region of South Tyrol, my family and friends where on hand during difficult moments to motivate me onward.

How did your body do with this stress?

Daniel Jung: Incredibly good! Before this run, I was in super physical condition and fortunately that was also the case during the run. Only in the last two hours when it went downhill steeply did I start to experience quite a pit of pain in my thighs. But I survived it well.

The Ultra Skyrace trails are technically challenging. The course, in part goes through high-Alpine terrain in the dark. Are there situations when as a runner you have to deal with fear?

Daniel Jung: Of course, there are those moments. There was one situation in particular close to the start of the run that was a test of my nerves. It was at times pretty foggy, with visibility of only two or three meters (6.5-9.5 feet). In these cases, even the best course markings aren’t worth much. I couldn’t really get oriented and got a little lost. In the high mountains, that can be dangerous, and I had to fight with my growing panic. Luckily, I was not too far from the last aid station, and I was able to call my father and activate the search team that signaled me the way.

Harald Wisthaler -
The high-Alpine terrain is especially challenging at night or in foggy areas. © by Harald Wisthaler

Was that the most difficult moment during the race for you?

Daniel Jung: Totally. Because it brings up the fear and uncertainty that you have to hide away. In this moment, I was sure anymore whether I could achieve my goal with the time I lost. It had taken about an hour and a half until I was emotionally back on track.

What moment during the Ultra Skyrace gave you an absolute high?

Daniel Jung: There were a few moments that totally got me going, but running into the finish was the most intense that I can remember. At a race in your hometown, finishing is always something quite special. But knowing that I was the first to cross the finish line, that I also had earned the course record, and that my loved ones were standing across the finish line, was simply a really huge moment.

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A huge moment: Daniel Jung finishing the race as the winner. © by Harald Wisthaler

You ran more than 17 hours without a break and took on thousands of meters of climbing in the mountains. What kept you going?

Daniel Jung: Of course, the entire time I had the feeling that I could do it and that I could actually win the race. But I really have my family to thank. In the toughest moments they were on the sidelines, at aid stations, or accompanied me along some stretches. When I hit a real low in the phase after the fog, my brother came along with me on a mountain bike and said, “Give it all you got, brother, you are still really right there.” When someone knows you so well like your family does, they can find the right words to pull you out of your dark hole again.

How did you choose what to wear for this race?

Daniel Jung: I knew I had to adjust for big temperature differences when it came to clothing because it can be rather cold in the mountains at night. But on this particular weekend in July, there was also a heat wave during the day. During cooler sections, I wore my ONE GORE-TEX® jacket over my pack, and under that the ESSENTIAL BASE LAYER Shirt and the FUSION 2in1 Shorts by GORE RUNNING WEAR®. During warmer phases, I then ran without the jacket and only with the Shirt.

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Daniel’s outfit for the legendary Ultra Skyrace.© by Harald Wisthaler.

It was just two years ago that you gave up mountain biking and transitioned to trail running. How amazing is it for you yourself that you are already at the top in this new sport?

Daniel Jung: Of course, I’m excited. But I also think that the athletic requirements for both activities are relatively similar. The muscles that I developed as a mountain biker are an advantage in every mountain run. In addition, I think I have simply found my true sport in trail running. I just simply have an unbelievable passion for this.

What’s next then?

Daniel Jung: The next big goal for me is the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. I was already quite successful there last year. This year I want to win. At the end of February, I want to stand with the world’s elite at the Transgrancanaria and see how I measure up.

Daniel’s outfit for the Ultra Skyrace

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