Is 65k enough to live in Denver

How time flies I can hardly believe that it has been forty years since we sat in front of the radio during our lunch break at school and watched the live broadcast of the competitions. Will “our” Swiss manage to be as successful as they were four years earlier in Sapporo? It was the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck that should actually have been held in Denver. Innsbruck, with its infrastructure from the previous decade, stepped into the breach three years before the games were hosted, thus enabling "the best games of all time" again.

I realize how long ago this event was when I take the illustrated book about the games from the shelf. Photo and printing technology, equipment and clothing used by athletes look quite antiquated. And yet in all these years I have never managed to visit the Alpine city of Innsbruck. It was always only a transit point on my travels further to the east of the republic.

But that's not the only reason why I spontaneously decided on the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival, the somewhat awkward title. The following denominations are offered: 15K, 25K, 42K, 65K, 85K. The date falls during my vacation and the longest route fits perfectly into my season planning.



While strolling through the old town, I notice the many tourists from distant lands that I would only have expected in Salzburg. Of course, our way to the starting number distribution takes you past one of the city's historic landmarks, the Golden Roof. The attempts to interpret the tape behind the dancers on the relief continue, but the version expressed in a book ten years ago tells me whether it is completely correct or not:

"Use every moment, don't skip a dance in life, you can't take anything with you"

The sentence has a special meaning for me, because a little later I will pick up my starting documents for probably the last time this year. The season opener for alpine trail running is also the end of the season for me. All the more I enjoy queuing in the sunshine on the forecourt of the Landestheater, where the Trailcity is located, to have my mandatory equipment checked and to be given my starting number.

Until the briefing at the Hotel Grauer Bär there is still time to continue the city tour, after which we treat ourselves to a good meal at the Italian restaurant. We start our way back to the hotel early so that we can get a few more hours of sleep before the alarm clock warns us to leave at 2:45 a.m.

The night owls on the way home do not believe their eyes and certainly not their ears. You can hardly believe that we are going on an 85-kilometer excursion at 4 a.m., especially since there are not only youngsters among the starters. Whereby I am certified as being a forty-year-old.



At the end of the field I set off in this quiet start - without the bang of a pistol, the thunder of cannons and Highway to Hell - on my way north. Along the Inn I can warm up nicely and after crossing the pedestrian bridge I am at operating temperature to tackle the first ascent. The asphalt soon gives way to a forest path and past the alpine zoo you continue up to the Hungerburg district. They are not really castles, but anyone who owns a home in this residential area does not have to go hungry. Not even we runners, because after six kilometers the first refreshment station is on the Umbrüggler Alm.

From here it is mainly on single trails. Again and again there is a view down to the sea of ​​lights of the city, over which the crescent moon stands, and every time the trees reveal the view of the mountain peaks, they appear a little brighter at dawn. The trail is narrow, not two feet wide, rather just two feet wide; Except for flat feet.

Even in Kranebitten, the next town, the route planners have managed to find narrow, natural paths between the houses and to mark on which the second refreshment point will be reached.

At sunrise I now cross the valley floor of the Inn valley along the Inn. A Dash8, a regional aircraft operated by the domestic airline, takes off from the adjacent airport. Not a machine for use in sunny destinations. Nobody has to fly there today, the scenery gives me the promise that we will be fed up with the sun on site.

In the next town, in Völs, I miss an arrow and find myself a little perplexed at an intersection. The runner, who followed me blindly, pulls out his GPS device and guides us back onto the right path.



With a mostly gentle slope it goes up to Birgitz. The map cannot tell me clearly whether this is already part of the Akademikersteig, or whether it only begins in Birgitz and is run by the runners of the K65 to Götzens. In Heidelberg it was the Philosophenweg, here the Akademikersteig; at some point you can do a doctorate in trail running….

As I have already mentioned, the K65 and K85 paths separate again when I eat in Birgitz, where I have pasta salad for breakfast, and soon the forest swallows me up again. What begins with a few patches of snow in shady places grows into passages, which were discussed at the briefing when the question was asked why spikes or snow chains are compulsory equipment. The mountain rescue service is positioned near the most critical point and once again draws attention to the level of difficulty. Without any temporal ambitions, apart from the desire to arrive at the finish within the time allotted, I move particularly carefully on this section, as I am traveling without sticks.

On the Götzner Alm the view opens up to the panorama of the Nordkette and I feel 35 years back in the winter that I spent in the southern California mountains. Melting snow, pure sunshine and a pleasant temperature - a combination that I was particularly fond of at the time. A little later, at the next refreshment point on the Mutterer Alm, the temptation is great not to go any further. Parts of the ski slope down from the Priemesköpfl are still covered by a good blanket of snow. Without all the rambazamba and the hut fun that prevails in such places during the ski season, I like it here. If it were the same during the season, I could even imagine wanting to ski again.



From the Mutterer Alm to Telfes in the Stubai, a thousand meters of altitude are reduced, but with some intermediate climbs there are more than 350 additional. Regardless of the vertical direction in which the path runs, it corresponds to what the inclined trail runner imagines. The organizer, who is full of drives, is really rooted in trail running in the truest sense of the word.

With the exception of very short sections, I've been traveling all alone since Birgitz. I hardly have the opportunity to photograph enjoying or suffering faces. I lack the human reference points for the great route, which holds more than it promised me in the tender. Blossoming fruit trees against the background of snow-covered mountains, a peaceful, calming scene welcomes me on the descent into the Stubai Valley. The heel to be operated on is surprisingly calm under the circumstances and at every refreshment point I notice that the lead on the transit time limits increases. That fires me up and increases the enjoyment.

After extensive refreshments in Telfes, it goes downhill again, then a short section on the valley floor, crossing the Ruetz river and then it's back up a little on the Stollensteig. “Pilgrimage” says a sign above the route marking and asks the question “quo vadis”. From a running point of view, I'm also excited. When and how will I be out and about again after the operation? For the moment, the question is easy to answer. I want to continue enjoying the beauty of this area on the signposted route and hopefully get back to Innsbruck in daylight.



This path currently stretches endlessly towards the Sill Gorge and is also one of the robust kind of hiking path. About halfway to the next refreshment station at Unterberg and roughly in the middle of the entire route, the view opens up into an infinite number of galaxies. I only see stars. The reason is that the path is not nicely tidied up and I hit a stone with my big right toe with full force. I don't even want to know what it looks like inside my shoe, so I concentrate on walking on and moving in such a way that the pain doesn't get too great.

Now a view of the Europabrücke, in the foreground is a Marterl. The picture has a lot of symbolic power. It seems to me like a symbol for everything we sacrifice for our mobility.

Although a few things have already run out at the Unterberg refreshment station and I find it difficult to run, I decide to stay in the race and manage the time reserve slightly trotting. I'm excited about the Sill Gorge and shouldn't be disappointed. For long stretches only the murmur of the water and the chirping of birds can be heard. At one point, however, high above my head, the bridge of the Brenner motorway extends over the valley and disturbs the idyll in the valley with the roar of the sheet metal avalanche rolling over it.

Further up, there are happy children's voices, which underline the otherwise peaceful atmosphere. How wonderful it is to slip out of your shoes in the powerful spring sun and stretch your feet into the cold water. My right foot wouldn't mind either. But whether he can be squeezed back into his shoe afterwards is another question.

From the right side of the gorge, along whose path a little lizard scurries every now and then, there is a great view of the impressive architecture of the Bergisel Schanze tower. The fact that the creator, the star architect Zaha Hadid, who died a month ago, was called “Queen of Curves” can be easily understood when looking at the flowing shape of this building.

My steps on the diversion, which became necessary due to work on the motorway bridge, are less fluid. The high steps of the temporary path are also a challenge for Storch Steiner with the long legs.

Past the Tirol Panorama and the Kaiserjägermuseum and numerous tourists, it goes down to Brettkeller for the next refreshment. Unfortunately, there is already all salt, but there is potato soup. The beer garden next door is tempting. A lead-free ISO would not be to be despised either, but the entertainment duo operating with all digital helpers drives me to flee onto the next section of the route. At the beginning there is another impression of the incision in nature that we are prepared to accept for more mobility.



But soon the path is back in the forest, in the popular local recreation area Paschberg. The route of the low mountain range is crossed several times. While this drives directly to Aldrans, we are concerned with the Lanser head. The hiking trails do not pose any particular challenges to a trailer and the section past a golf course makes it clear to me that I am right with my chosen sport. This spectacle in designer clothes would not be my thing - besides, I have a functioning love life ...

In order to obtain a doctorate as a trail runner, theology must also be included. I deduce that from the name "Pfarrtal", through which we walk straight to the next refreshment station at Ampass. This is located in a secluded forecourt of a historical building and I only discovered it because I really want to take a photo of the house.

Unfortunately there is no more salt here either, the K65 and K42 participants, who are all through, have cleared away. But apart from that, I find enough things to choose from that will take me to the next post in Hall, from where it is a good 15 kilometers to my destination. Hall can be seen from afar, which is why the five kilometers seem longer to me. I am looking forward to the largest old town in Tyrol and will not be disappointed. The refreshment station does not disappoint me either: in addition to all kinds of delicacies, there is also salt, in keeping with the tradition of the place name.

In view of the time cushion and the manageable rest, I let myself continue in the competition, knowing full well that it will now be a hike. The little plug with his bike on the side of the road, which previously saw the 15k runners who started in Hall rush past, brings it to the point. He looks me up over my salt-encrusted trousers and asks me: "Are you a runner?"

The valley is crossed via Absam, then it goes back on the left side of the valley along the edge of the forest towards Innsbruck. At Thaur there is another refreshment station and from there the route is completely green again. Past the Romediuskirchl and the Thaur castle ruins, it goes to the Rechenhof, where the last refreshment station is located. For the 85s it is now right and again crisp up. It's not 300 meters in altitude, but it's tough. In addition, the nature of the path demands great attention from me so that I don't take a step that conjures up a starry sky again. Past the Enzianhütte it goes back into the Mühlauer Klamm and then to the Arzler Alm.

The way down to Hoch Innsbruck is a pram slope, it said in the route briefing. Provided that the stroller is maximally suitable for off-road use or the child lying in it is absolutely immune to concussions, I would add this statement.

Then I recognize the section that we walked in the opposite direction almost 17 hours ago. It's not far to the finish line, which I have no objection to. I didn't reach my goal of arriving in Innsbruck in daylight and I have to put my headlamp on again on the forest down to the alpine zoo. The area around the alpine zoo seems deserted. As in the morning, there is no bleating, no neighing, no grunting, no screeching and no whistling to be heard. Do the animals live simply controlled by the daily routine or do they have a part of common sense that ultra runners do not have and therefore do things like that?

When I visualize the lack of common sense among motorists, who do not consider it necessary to give way to the weaker road users made visible with light applications and headlamps at the two road crossings up to the destination at the pedestrian crossing, then I tend to reason with the animals award.

On the second crossing on the four-lane Rennweg, a few meters from the finish, I make myself even more visible, switch on the boost function of the headlamp and thus prevent a particularly hurried contemporary from rushing past the car driver who is already stopping and taking me on the hood . As a result, I can let a shower of swear words descend on me from the car. It is enough from Ar .. to Wi .., there are also variants with goat. According to the accent, the motorist in question probably did not want to use this in order to avoid suspecting that he was insulting his sultan ...

I don't pretend the last few meters to the finish. I hike there leisurely, cross the finish line and look forward to the alcohol-free. Unfortunately, I only find out at breakfast on Sunday that you can (or could?) Hammer yourself a finisher copper badge.

The day showed how wonderful trail running in the mountains is. The Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival with its Scott Heart of the Alps 85K is a perfect start to the season and a great way to end it for me. I will miss it sorely this summer, and hopefully be able to indulge this passion painlessly next year.

It was a gift to be able to run such a beautiful and long distance in this perfect weather. Not just a great gift, but in the truest sense of the word a long gift.


Another run report (from the K 65)
and there are many pictures here on

Information: Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival