ZUGSPITZ ULTRA TRAIL: TRAILRUNING IN THE BAVARIAN ALPS, THE HIGHEST PEAK OF GERMANY (2.962M) THE GREAT ULTRA FROM GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN.
ZUGSPITZ ULTRA TRAIL: Mountain running around the highest peak in Germany (2,962m). Today we would like to share with you what is one of the most iconic mountain races in Germany. The Salomon Zugzpitz Ultra Trail brings together thousands of runners every year in the heart of Bavaria. The usual appointment arrives every second weekend of June since 2010 and this year the friends from Plan B (organizers of the event) were celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the race, however for the reasons known, it could not happen, however we still would like to share with all of you our memory from the years 2017 and 2018.
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Let’s go to the Zugspitz Ultra Trail.
ZUGSPITZ ULTRA TRAIL
The Zugspitz Ultra Trail is a race that in its different modalities, from 100 km to 25 km, goes around completely or in different parts the Massif of the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany with 2962 meters above sea level and which at its summit shares a border with Austria. The race starts in Grainau, a very picturesque village in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district.
GARMICSCH-PATENKIRCHEN, MECCA OF MOUNTAINEERING AND SKIING IN GERMANY.
The city of Garmisch-Patenkirchen represents in Germany what Chamonix does to France. That means: skiing in all its forms, winter sports, climbing, mountaineering and of course trail running. Perhaps many of our readers have already heard the city’s name due to the ski jumping competition held every January 1st at the Olympic Stadium where the Winter Olympics were hosted in 1936.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is actually made up of two cities that joined in 1935. Since then, they offer to all of those who love nature and mountain life style countless opportunities. In winter it is one of the most visited ski resorts in Germany and not only by Germans, but also by Austrian, Swiss or even the Italian neighbours. In summer it transforms with everything it can be imagine in the mountains: walks, hiking, kayaking, climbing, via ferrata and much more.
Garmisch’s Ski Resort is also very famous among the worldwide ski lovers. Its ski slopes are divided into three large areas: The first, a forester area that goes from 1800 m down to the outskirts of Garmisch and offers large slopes, where you can also find the mythical Kandahar World Cup slope.
The second ski area starts at about 1900 m and goes up to 2200 m where once there was a glacier.
The third area, the Glacier area, covers about 30 km from 2200 m directly on the Zugspitze glacier. That area can be reached through one of the fastest gondolas in Europe or, from Garmisch itself via a train that is dug on the mountain and climbs up to 2600 meters high.
Below, you can see the spectacular ski map of this resort in the heart of the Bavarian Alps.
ZUGSPITZ, GERMANY’S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN (2,962M)
The Zugspitze needle is, with its 2,962 meters the highest mountain in Germany. It belongs to the Northern Limestone Alps, in German: Nördliche Kalkalpen. The summit also marks the border between Germany and Austria. As you can see above, it dominates from above Garmisch-Partenkirchen and is one of the most picturesque corners of Bavaria.
The mountain has a marked prominence all around it, presenting a 360-degree panorama from where admire more than 400 peaks in four different countries. The multiple touristic attractions of the are and the fast gondola that brings the tourists to the top, make possible that almost half a million people visits annually the summit. There, can also be found the highest mountain hut in Germany.
HOW TO GO UP TO THE ZUGSPITZE:
From the Austrian side it is possible to ascend with the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn. While in the German side of the mountain, there are two options: the train called Bayerische Zugspitzbahn that takes tourists from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the mountain peak and the cable car from the base of the mountain to the top, consisting of two glazed cabins with capacity for 120 people. This spectacular line was inaugurated in 2018. It is not very recommended for people with vertigo, as it saves 1,945 meters, the largest slope in the world in a single section. And it does so also with the longest stretch free cable in the world (3213 meters)
ZUGSPITZE ULTRA TRAIL:
The Zugspitze Ultratrail offer multiple possibilities for all the runners and their different levels. The distances range varies from 25 km +1500 to 102 km +5900, allowing everybody to experience a corner of the Alps with a special charm that takes runners from the Alpine villages of Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Grainau, Erhwald (AT)… with painted facades and wooden houses, passing through the green alpine meadows, to the immense limestone walls dreaming of being climbed.
This year 2020 celebrated its 10th anniversary. Due to well-known circumstances the edition was only a virtual one, in which each runner had to make kilometers that added up to the total of the chosen distance. Thus, the 10+1 edition will be next June 2021.
The center of the race weekend is Grainau, a small village in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district, just below the Zugspitze and an alpine lake: the Eibsee.
ZUGPSITZ ULTRA TRAIL: FIVE MOUNTAIN RACES.
- ULTRATRAIL Start and finish line in Grainau (Germany) 102,5 km +5.491
- SUPERTRAIL XL From Erhwald (Austria) to Grainau. 82 km +4.206
- SUPERTRAIL From Leutasch (Austria) to Grainau 64 km +2.923
- BASETRAIL XL From Mittelwald (Germany) to Grainau 39 km +1.985
- BASETRAIL From Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Grainau 25 km +1.595
The organization of the event is carried out by the company Plan B with an extensive history of race organization in Europe like the Transalpine or the Salomon 4-Trail. They pamper the runner with every detail: from the organization of bus transfers to the track marking and the safety of the runners are always the strengths when preparing any event.
MY EXPERIENCE AT ZUGSPITZ ULTRA TRAIL 2017-2018.
In my case, for two years 2017 and 2018, I have run the Supertrail, trying to improve positions year after year. The race starts in Lautasch, a village in Austria in an area well known for Nordic skiing. There, where the large limestone walls give way to alpine valleys where in winter you can practice Nordic ski for kilometers and kilometers. In summer, they adapted the winter activity many years ago and you can practice countless mountain activities.
Returning to the race itself, one of the things that attracted me the most it is the fact that I do not have to get up early to perform 64 km, because the competition begins at 9:00 in the morning, As I told you above, the organization foresees the transfer of athletes from different villages (depending on where they are staying) to this small town by buses, once at that point the party begins.
The first couple of kilometers involves the exit of the village and the entrance into a forest trail that quickly moves the runner to a “wall” where you begin to feel the gained meters gradually with the arrival of kilometer eight, where suddenly, we find ourselves in an alpine meadow that makes us forget the asphalt of the first kilometers and put us in front of an important part of the the Zugspitze massif.
The passage through kilometer nine means that we have reached the first big climb of the day and begins a gentle descent that gradually becomes dizzying in the middle of the forest and its roots to take us to the first aid station at kilometer 14.
From there to kilometer 22 you cross false plains, wooded terrain and some small climb that for a couple of minutes makes the runner forget that is in the Alps.
HALF OF THE RACE, WE MOVE ON….
We reach km 34 between ups and downs through the forest so deep that it sometimes prevents us from seeing the sun and we reach one of which, in my view, is the key point of this race: the aid station at kilometer 34 on the edge of the Ferchensee lake. From here, at any of the race distances there are about 30 km to finish line.
In my case, from km 34 to more or less the km 50 is about handling the heat and saveenergy for the second big climb of the day that starts at kilometer 50 and where we have to face 1100 m of elevation in 5 km to move from the alpine forest to the reality of the mountain with all its roughness.
Once crowned through the Gasrmisch ski slopes, it is only 7 km to finish with a negative downhill of 1300m.
Once you’ve overcome those 7 kms of dizzying descent, the runner can shovel the honeys of success and run the last kilometer of asphalt along Grainau streets to the long-awaited finish line where one or two cold beers will surely await you,. Just notice that the first ones are non-alcoholic ones because as in most races held in Germany one of the main sponsors is a well-known brand of non-alcoholic beers with probed isotonic qualities.
ZUGSPITZ ULTRA TRAIL: IMAGE GALERY BY THE ORGANIZATION.
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