David Lopez Castan and Miguel Caballero Ortega once again ruled today’s field of runners! As on both previous stages of the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run, they managed to distance themselves from any immediate competition halfway into the day and from then on simply ran their own race. The two Spanish talents put the full marathon distance between Schruns and Galtür behind them with seeming ease in the mind-blowing time of 3:49:47.7 hours. While today’s course had been changed to account for potential thunderstorm activity and avoided any exposed ridgeline trails in favour of a lower elevation route, the day still packed a punch.
Trailing the Spanish leaders by ten minutes were - as would have been expected by now - Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds of Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear. The Scottish missed staying under the four-hour mark by a mere second with their time of 4:00:01.6 hours, but still rank second overall at this point.
Third to cross the finish line in the Austrian resort community of Galtür were Tofol Castaner Bernat and Miguel Capo Soler of TransMallorcaRun Team (4:09:09.9) with just a hair’s lead over their friends Julien Chorier (FRA) and Philipp Reiter of Team Salomon International (4:09:10.2). The four indeed leapt across the finish line in single file for a photo finish, a gesture implicit for the cordial race spirit in the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run series.
Conditions on today’s trails were anything but perfect. At higher elevations temperatures barely kept above freezing. Driving rain soaked the racers intermittently, while gusty winds pushed low-lying clouds around to obscure visibility at times. As such, opting for the alternative route turned out to have been a wise choice.
Race director Wolfgang Pohl was clearly relieved that most runners had enjoyed the new course despite the inclement conditions. "The original track would have been too exposed to the elements over a distance of nearly 18 kilometers. Subjecting over 600 racers to such a risk wouldn’t have been a responsible thing to do". The alternative route proved to be sufficiently challenging as it stood, which victorious Miguel Caballero aptly summed up: "It was very wet and cold, which made running a lot harder for us". Still, running in the clouds must have held something mystical for most runners – something many runners commented on - as they made their arduous way across two mountain passes at elevations of 1932 m and 2271 m, respectively. The strategy of race duo Castan/Caballero, both members of the Spanish National trail running team, to ‚up the ante’ only half way into the day’s single 29-kilometer long climb, clearly had a demoralizing effect on all other vanguard teams. Soaking wet but elated, 29-year-old Caballero explained: "We decided to increase our speed from one moment to the next and indeed managed to get away relatively easily. Let’s see what the next few days hold for us. We take itstage by stage".
Joe Symonds, once again relegated to second place, concurred with the victorious Spaniard: "It was indeed very exhausting. The climb just didn’t seem to end. Then, between the first and second food stop, they got away from us".
Every day Berglaufteam Haglöfs-Gore (GER) around Anton Philipp and Dr. Thomas Miksch seems to get a little closer to the ambitious goal of claiming a third consecutive victory in the Masters category at the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. So far, their race approach goes to plan as the two race veterans were once again the first Masters to cross the finish line in just 4:14:59.1 hours. That time also proved good enough for a deserved sixth place overall in today’s stage.
Steffen Walk and Christian Stork of Team Salomon/Sport Reischmann (GER) ended up trailing the leaders by over seven minutes but still entered the finish area in well-known ski town Galtür with the commendable time of 4:22:40.5 hours. The two German racers comfortably managed to stay ahead of Anton Steiner and Klaus Wellenzohn (ITA) of Team Schlanders who – once again – claimed third place on the podium with their time of 4:24:34.0 hours.
Stephanie Jimenez (FRA) and Mireia Miro (ESP) once more demonstrated both physical and technical prowess with seeming effortlessness. With only 4:39:51.8 hours on the trail, the two not only managed to come in first with a sizeable lead of 23 minutes over their most immediate competition, but also claimed 18th place in today’s overall ranking.
Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell of Scottish Team Shettletrot mustn’t have spend any time sight-seeing alongside the trail either, as they ran the marathon mountain stage between Schruns and Galtür in just 5:03:20.1 hours. That performance afforded them a sufficient lead over third-placing Germans Gitti Schiebel and Simone Philipp of Team Mountain Heroes/Salomon (5:15:52.8).
Gaby Steigmeier (SUI) and Seppi Neuhauser (GER) of Team Salomon clearly form a perfect match as a race team winning their third consecutive set of leader jerseys on today’s stage. Veterans of several in the 7-year series of GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Runs, they ruled their category yet again in trademark form with the victorious time of 4:43:03.4 hours.
Kasia Zajac (POL) and Christian Zimmer (GER) of Team Salomon Polen Deutschland came in second trailing the dominant leaders by only ten minutes (4:54:17.4). The two racers actually arrived clasping hands with Germans Andrea and Uli Calmbach of Team Salomon Deutschland (4:54:17.5). The latter stayed a nose-length behind the international race team and graciously accepted third place for today.
As in all other categories, the leaders of the Senior Masters were unwilling to relinquish their coveted vanguard position. Rudi Schöpf and Hans Hörmann (ITA) of Team Latsch/Mountain Heroes crossed the finish line after 4:59:55.7 hours on the trail extending their lead further over the ever-second German Team Trail Magazin around Gerald Blumrich and Jörg Schreiber (5:08:57.2).
The third centurion team on the podium were Axel Zapletal and Peter Sandmaier of Team Pax Feldafing 100, who didn’t exactly dilly-dally en route with their time of 5:28:07.5 hours.
Today's stage won’t afford the racers much of a break yet with a distance of almost 40 kilometers and a cumulative vertical ascent of 2,339 m. After warming up on a gently rising forest trunk road up the Jam Valley, racers will get back on racy singletrack trails that lead up to and subsequently down from the Futschölpass (2,768 m), which also forms the Swiss-Austrian border. Crossing into Switzerland also marks the beginning of the first descent to Alp Valmala before rising back up to an elevation of 2,370 m at Piz Clünas. From there, it’s going to be pretty much all downhill to the Swiss thermal spa community of Scuol.