September 2, 2016

Ready for Heaven & Hell

7 days, 250 kilometers (150 miles), 15,000 meters (49,200 feet) of elevation gain: the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run demands extreme performance -- and not only from the runners. A quick look at the equipment that Jürgen from team GORE RUNNING WEAR® will be using proves that only the best is good enough.

The last partner to finish a Transalpine-Run with me was a colleague from England named Lewis Grundy. Lewis was a gram counter. Instead of using the official “race belt,” he attached his bib number with a minimalist regular rubber band. This saved him approximately 5 grams. He took the trail book and cut off all of the white blank area around the print. This saved him 3 grams. Prior to the Transalpine-Run, he tested a variety of socks, and meticulously logged any increase in the weight of each sock after a training run! Of course, not all trail runners are like this. A friend of mine named Armin is a very fast runner, who recently won the 100-mile “Chiemgau 100.” He doesn’t pay that much attention to weight. He has been known to carry a change of clothes with him, or to run a road marathon (in a super speedy 2:50!) with a 12-liter trail running pack on his back. My preference is somewhere between these two extremes. The fact is, weight is a factor in finding the perfect equipment, but so to are protection and comfort. Here is my equipment list for the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run 2016:

Clothing: light and versatile
Over the past couple of months, I’ve found my perfect running clothing: the “Fusion” line from GORE RUNNING WEAR®. It is the choice not only of our top athletes such as Daniel Jung, who will also be competing in the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run, but also of those of us (such as my colleague and running partner Patric) who are are running in the “economy class”. The individual pieces in detail: “Fusion 2 in 1 Shorts,” tight on the inside, relaxed on the outside, and equipped with a practical mesh pocket for odds and ends; “Fusion Shirt,” light, quick drying and super comfortable against your skin. However, my new favorite piece is the “Fusion GWS Shirt,” a kind of a vest with short sleeves made of GORE® WINDSTOPPER® with stretch side panels. Ideal for as much as 80 percent of the weather conditions during the Transalpine-Run.

Rainwear: just in case
I’ve been impressed by the “ONE GTX Jacket” ever since our product manager Daniel handed me one of the first samples two years ago. So light, so tough, so cool! There probably isn’t a better waterproof breathable jacket if you consider how durable, how light and how packable it is. In short, the perfect choice for ultrarunners. I wear “Air Active GTX Shorts” on stages with bad weather to protect “the most sensitive areas” from rain and wind. The knee-length cut works well even on steep uphills, and the material is so breathable that you can wear the shorts even in dry weather.

Full-length clothing: mandatory equipment!
Full-coverage clothing — including a hat and gloves – for the entire body is obligatory on the Transalpine-Run. Because these items are only occasionally needed, it’s essential that they are as light and as packable as possible. My “lightweight package” consists of the long sleeve “Fusion Shirt” because I like to have a spare shirt with me (arm warmers are an alternative), plus leg warmers, and super-light gloves and a hat from the “Essential Light” line. To keep all of this protected from rain and sweat, I pack it in a featherweight Sea to Summit dry sack.

Little helpers: indispensable
Frequently, it’s the little things that make the difference between success and failure in a race. Must-haves for me are: Sziols X-Kross Sports Glasses with an internal optical clip and a spare lens, Suunto Ambit Vertical GPS watch, a headband (included in this year’s participant packet!), bib number belt, smartphone and ID (packed in a waterproof Exped dry sack), and folding Leki Trail Pro trail running poles with the trigger system. There are lighter poles on the market, but the trigger system is ideal when you switch back and forth between using and carrying the poles as I do. Especially at the end of some stages when my legs are tired, I use the poles even on flatter sections to push myself laboriously towards the finish. More must-haves: a first aid kit, and a (chocolate) Ultrabar energy bar as an emergency snack. Usually I get enough calories from the aid stations.

Shoes: a balancing act
The Merrell All Out Peak GTX is my first choice for the Transalpine-Run. There may be lighter and more dynamic shoes, but the mix of good shock absorption (I’m not exactly a lightweight…), sensational grip thanks to the Vibram Megagrip sole, flexibility, and weather protection is unbeatable. Paired with GORE RUNNING WEAR® Essential Tech Socks, this is the perfect combination for longer runs in alpine terrain.

Backpack: compact and thoughtfully engineered
I put my trust in the Inov 8 Race Ultra 10 when it comes to trail running packs. It has the right volume for the extensive equipment needed, it has a close-to-the-body fit, and it has perfectly positioned and easily accessible pockets. I use a 1.5 Liter (50 fluid ounce) reservoir from Salomon and carry an additional Inov 8 bottle that serves as a cup at aid stations.