David Lopez Castan and Miguel Caballero Ortega, the overall leaders of the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run 2011, added yet another victory on today’s mammoth stage between Kleinwalsertal/Hirschegg (Austria) and Schruns (Austria). Little over five hours (5:01:25.0) was all the speedy Spaniards spent on the trails, putting no less than 53,20 kilometers and 2,481 meters in several grueling ascents behind them. On account of these stats, today’s stage was probably the toughest day for the remaining week of racing, but growing fatigue will unlikely make the ensuing stages feel any easier for any of the athletes.
Second across the finish line – trailing leading Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex Spain by just under five minutes – were the Scottish runners Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds of Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear (5:06:14.9). The latter defended their position ahead of Julien Chorier (FRA) and Philip Reiter (GER) of Team Salomon International, whose time of 5:30:26.2 hours advanced them onto the podium in deserved third place.
The Spanish victors comfortably extended their overall lead to over 17 minutes by the end of today’s second stage. With one third of the total race distance already under their belt, Castan and Ortega have delivered a stunning performance to date that will be noticed undoubtedly by the global trail race community. As would be expected, the two Spaniards (both 29 years of age) were greatly pleased after crossing the finish line first - ahead of no less than three hundred other teams. "We simply gave all and tried to distance ourselves from the Brits after the fourth food stop. It’s great that it panned out as planned".
The Spanish breakaway bugged no one as much as Joe Symonds and his teammate Jethro Lennox, who had even set the pace off and on and for the longest time, had managed to hang on to the leaders with reasonable success. Joe Symonds, the younger brother of last year’s victor Andrew Symonds, recapped today’s trials and tribulations "The Spaniards attacked on the last ascent but we never lost sight of them and hung on to the summit. In the end, they surprised us by being able to take off on us on the flat sections towards the finish". Despite suffering a fall on the descent to Dalaas that left him with a laceration and nasty abrasions on his left leg, the 28-year Scotsman seemed content overall "I’m not really disappointed, since it already went better today than yesterday – apart from my fall". Team partner Lennox is still convinced "that Joe can run much faster if only he were to get through a day without abdominal cramps". Both racers were optimistic that they still had a chance to pinch a few stage victories from the dominant team around Lopez Castan and Caballeor Ortega.
One team, long dealt as a potential contender for a top podium position, had to give up their aspirations to attack the current leaders. Tobias Brack and Thomas Geisenberger of TSV Buchberg Haglöfs-Gore clearly lived up to expectations well into today’s stage, when the latter racer had to quit. Geisenberger, placing second in the 2009 GORE-TEX Transalpine Run, had suffered a heat stroke in yesterday’s stage, the aftermath of which forced him to admit defeat today.
Veteran trail racers of Berglaufteam Haglöfs-Gore (GER) around Dr. Thomas Miksch and Anton Philipp certainly got through the day in better shape than most of their competitors. The defending champs of the Masters category managed to cross the finish in Schruns in just 5:38:39.2 hours, which extended their lead to more than 12 minutes. Still, Anton Philipp confessed to having experienced a few weak moments, since the hot conditions of the previous day had "nearly destroyed him". The champions of 2009 and 2010 know full well that they can afford being reasonably relaxed at this point. Philipp shared that "We are running a good race right now and will try to continue to do so. If we keep that up, chances are good for a hattrick", a third consecutive victory for the 42-year-old and the 49-year old athlete, respectively.
Second to arrive in Schruns were Steffen Walk and Christian Stork (5:46:07.5) of Team Salomon/Sport Reischmann, who moved up to the runner-up position in the master ranking. Third across the finish line in the category of teams with a cumulative age of 80+ were Anton Steiner and Klaus Wellenzohn of the Italian Team Schlanders (5:51:21.7).
It didn’t exactly come as a surprise that Gaby Steigmeier (SUI) and her Austrian Team Salomon running mate Seppi Neuhauser handily claimed first place in the second of eight race stages in this year’s GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. The running duo is a serious contender for overall victory having routinely placed among the top in previous Transalpine Run race events. The two veteran competitors put today’s mammoth stage behind them in no more than 6:10:44.4 hours.
Second on the podium were Andrea and Uli Calmbach of Team Salomon Deutschland (6:34:36.1), who arrived with a delay of 24 minutes on the victors. Third to arrive in Schruns, a new host community in the Transalpine Run race series, were yet another couple, Sonja and Andreas Irendorfer of Team Innenausbau Irendorfer, who finished in 6:50:02.3 hours.
Team Salomon International defended their lead in the Womens category. Stehanie Jimenez (FR) and Mireia Miro (ESP) stayed well ahead of anyone else in their category and were able to kick back in Schruns after spending only 6:14:34.0 on the trail. It is noteworthy, that this formidable time advanced the international duo to 18th position in the overall ranking.
The remaining podium positions went to Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell of British Team Shettletrot (6:36:25.3) and Isabel Sanjuan Tabuenca and Muria Dominguez Azpeleta of Trangoworld Gore-Tex Spain (7:02:21.1), respectively.
Similarly to all other categories, the leaders of the Senior Masters category also managed to defend their top podium positions and won’t have to change into a different color jersey in tomorrow’s stage. Rudi Schöpf and Hans Hörmann (ITA) of Team Latsch/Mountain Heroes may rack up more than a century in terms of cumulative age, but certainly have not intention to slow down any time soon. They ran a fantastic time (6:41:22.7) to the finish line in Schruns, which place them into a position to put up their feet almost a quarter hour before their most immediate competitors arrived.
Germans Gerald Blumrich and Jörg Schreiber of Team Trail Magazin (6:55:34.5) claimed that coveted position, whereas, third on the podium but trailing the victors by over 70 minutes were Axel Zapletal and Peter Sandmeier of Team Pax Feldafing (7:53:00.2)
Almost a match to today’s mammoth stage in terms of physical demand, tomorrow’s trails between Schruns and Galtür offer up a picture-perfect marathon distance but pack it with 2,672 m of vertical gain. After a seemingly never-ending, grueling climb, racers will stay at elevation along the highly scenic "Wormser High Trail" before dropping into the resort community of Galtür at the feet of the Silvretta Mountain Range in the Central Alps.