It was around Christmas 2017 that I received an email from Nicole in Germany (friend from the YAU) suggesting that we might like to go over to Austria and run the Karwendelmarsch in August which she would be taking part in. The route is 32miles with 7500ft of climbing, we thought this would be a great way to catch up with friends and kick off our winter race training, so we entered the run and booked accommodation at the start.
Training didn’t go as planned, as the summer was so hot which doesn’t suit me for running at all, however, I was fairly confident that I could cover the distance and climb even if I had to walk more of it than planned. Before leaving home we received messages to bring extra kit as the weather forecast was showing a break in the summer weather and a wet weekend. We arrived in Scharnitz two days before the run in gentle rain and cooler temperatures, much better for me for running. We met up with Nicole and registered for the event, picking up numbers, bag tags and other information; then after coffee and cake we went back to our accommodation to get out rucksacks packed ready for the run the following day. The rain was heavy and steady through the night, but by the start at 6am it was just damp.
The run itself was great – tough but picturesque – we didn’t get the best of the views as we were in the cloud and drizzle at higher levels. We all got separated at the start as we thought we might, the plan being to find each other at the end if this happened, however, about an hour in I heard Nicole call my name and we ended up sticking together for the rest of the run. This was a real bonus for me – chatting and catching up the whole way. As often happens, I struggled to swallow any food during the first part of the race and managed to get half a banana and a bit of water down. At the top of the second climb I decided to stop for a few minutes and have a cup of warm mint tea and eat one of the bars I had brought with me – Nicole waited for me and we set off again, me now feeling much better than I had. I found the third climb quite challenging and a few people got in between myself and Nicole, however, we set off down the other side together and after a long flat section we came in to the finish, quicker than I was expecting… with an added bonus of being given wheat beer on crossing the finish line! A great day out and definitely worth travelling for!
The following day we were collected from Sharnitz and spent a couple of days catching up with Robert (MYAU Race Director) and walking in the mountains close to his home – an added bonus of the trip!
Marianne Heading discovered winter endurance racing in 2007, while working as a volunteer for the Yukon Arctic Ultra. This experience inspired her to take up running and go back to the Yukon as a competitor. Since 2007 she has been back to the YAU multiple times, completing both the 100 and 300mile races, in 2011 she became the first European female to complete the 300mile YAU and in 2019 won the 300mile MYUA. Events are not a very regular feature, but other races include the Semi-Raid Reunion, Roveaneimi150, ITI350, Karwendelmarsch and closer to home the Four Inns, the Druids Challenge, Equinox24, run to the castle, Hardmoors55. Being outdoors and enjoying the countryside and wildlife are a higher priority than being fast... luckily! Training runs and walks are often prolonged by a break to watch wildlife and take in the surroundings!