When 333 top-class trail running teams from around the world line up at the start in the Alpen Arena in Bad Hofgastein on Friday, 27 June, they have one common goal: to become a World Champion!
Trail running enjoys great popularity. At the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships three trail runners compete as a relay team in three different categories (women, men, mixed). Each athlete has to run one of three loops in the stunning alpine setting of the Gastein Valley. The loops differ in distance and elevation: 25km/1900vm – 60km/3800vm – 40km/2100vm. All relay runners complete the last kilometre together to reach the finish line as team.
Before the team members can prove themselves on the individual loops, they have to run a prologue together on Thursday. The 15km run will start and end at the Alpenarena in Bad Hofgastein which is a perfect opportunity for all fans cheering at the start as well as on the athletes last metres.
After a little arm-up through the village the runners take the "Vogellehrpfad" up on the Schlossalm. Crossing trails and old farmers houses they will reach the only full-service aid station just below the highest point of this prologue at 1.652m. After passing the Aeroplanstadl the athletes will go back down to the village and to the Alpenarena with all their fans waiting.
The start takes place at the break of dawn at 04h00. Within one hour, the first 333 relay runners are sent off in a pursuit format. The prologue result of each team determines the start position and interval. At sunrise, the first runners will reach the mountain ridge at Gamskarkogel. The fastest competitors are expected to reach the finish in Bad Hofgastein around 06h45, where their team mates will have already lined up for transition.
The second loop leads the trail runners past Bad Gastein’s famous waterfall and up the Graukogel ridge to the highest point of this loop, the Graukogel summit at 2.492m. Not much time to enjoy the great view above the Gastein valley because its only the first third for runner number 2. Back down and via the Böcksteiner Höhenweg to Sportgastein. Further across Miesbichlscharte to the secondhightest point, the Zittrauertisch at 2,463 metres. Around 12h15, spectators in the Alpen Arena will see the first transition to the third loop.
This route leads out of the valley towards Dorfgastein. The highlight of the course is the run on the ridge from Jedlkopf to Seebachkatzenkopf. After completing a total of 127 kilometres and 7,800 vertical metres, the first World Champion Team can enjoy its lap of honour through Bad Hofgastein at approximately 15h30, before being cheered on by the crowds in the Alpen Arena. Those who have made it to the finish are pampered like champions at the Alpentherme, where they can indulge in massages, sauna, thermal water lakes and pasta carbo loading.