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, 22 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 – 57km/3400vm – 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. The prologue is set up as Vertical Open race, a hill climb up on Stubnerkogel Mountain in Bad Gastein, that is open for everyone, not only the World Championship competitors. Those who participate in the 19-kilometre-long run up the 2,246-meter-high mountain will be awarded with a great summit party. All runners can enjoy a safe ride back to into the valley after sunset thanks to the support of Gastein cable cars.
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 the picturesque Reedsee to Graukogel Mountain, further across Miesbichlscharte to the hightest 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 Mooseckhöhe. After completing a total of 120 kilometres and 7,100 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.
Gastein offers special spectator packages for accompanying families and visitors and invites everyone to cheer for the athletes at the hotspots on the race course. Thanks to bus and cable car spectators are always a step ahead of the runners. Various side events like a morning run with sports legends, a yoga session at the Alpentherme or a kids run encourage active engagement.