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Trail running gem at the heart of Ötztal

Since 2016, Ötztal has also been offering something for all those who want to move swiftly in the mountains: Glacier Run in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and Stuiben Run in Umhausen are two highly interesting trail running events within the valley, that couldn't be more different.

In July there are dizzying heights and mighty glacier ice while in May the route travels from the foothills to the source of Tirol’s biggest waterfall.

Start Stuiben Trailrun

Extreme sports event at the Stuiben Falls in Ötztal

The official invitation for the 2nd Stuiben Run looks just like it was made especially for us: “Feel the primeval power of Alpine waters”.

We love waterfalls, Ötztal and trail running. And we don’t have any plans yet for 19/20 May – participating in the event is not only obvious, but essential for us.

 

100 participants, 280 altitude meters & 728 steps

Our journey to Umhausen, the place where it all happened, went smoothly and despite the somewhat capricious weather there was a nice atmosphere. The evening before the new, 1.6 km Night Challenge took place, today the runners are ready for the 6.4 km Mountain Challenge, which only goes uphill as well as the main 12.4 km Stuiben Run.

Together with almost 100 other participants, we face the long distance: according to the invitation, it not only climbs 780 altitude meters but also 728 steps along the scenic Stuiben Falls. We are in good spirits: the length of the route is manageable and the altitude meters are still in the three-digit range.

Great atmosphere in the village center

At Murplatz, the village center of Umhausen, there is a fabulous atmosphere already many hours before the run. Between the trail runners, who can easily be recognized by their colorful functional clothing, there are also many spectators, drinks and food stands are well attended and a DJ provides the background music. The start number can be picked up at the tourist office - which is within sight - and the starter package contains information, start numbers as well as an energizing drink and a voucher for the pasta party afterwards. Nothing can really go wrong.

Punctual to the minute at 3.00 pm we are at the starting line, eagerly waiting for the Mountain Challenge and Stuiben Run starting signal. Cheered on by the crowd of spectators, the first kilometer out of the village center is only slightly uphill before we get to the first trail next to the parking area of Ötzi Village. We make fast progress in the almost flat area, but the next ascent on a forest path to the foothill of the waterfall restrains us immediately. We skip the first refreshment station after 4 kilometers, motivated by the rushing waterfall.

Food Station Stuiben Trailrun

Speechless: the backdrop of a waterfall while climbing stairs

After a good 20 minutes we enjoy an unobstructed view of the Stuiben Falls. Fed by the snow masses and rainfalls during winter and spring, up to two thousand liters of water fall down the mountain every second. The sight of the thundering waterfall almost makes us speechless, shortly afterwards it is the view of the seemingly endless stairs leading up next to the fall. Across an 80 meter long suspension bridge we get to the 728 steps that we have to climb, but we manage it almost effortlessly thanks to the impressive waterfall. We even take a couple of photos.

Once at the top, the route with another refreshment station leads up to Niederthai, located at 1550 meters. The steepest part of the run without stairs can be found here: a short but crisp grass slope equipped with two ropes – it looks quite imposing but is actually over faster than it comes into view. Countless spectators have come together up here and cheer at us during our fight with the mountain. In general, a “Come on, go!” can be heard almost everywhere on the track, a fact that is extremely motivating. So many spectators and cheers are by no means taken for granted and you can feel that the run here is supported by many locals.

Treppe zum Stuibenfall

Run

Stuibenfall

Trail fun for people & animals

After another ten minutes we pass the goal of the Mountain Challenge at Gasthaus Bichl and, for us, the highest point of the day. From here it continues only downhill and on a forest path we get back onto the trails. Along the track, not only human beings but also sheep and cows say hello - pure mountain feeling.

One last refreshment station and about 4 enjoyable trail kilometers later, we “hear” the finish line approaching. From the forest the trail leads smoothly downhill into the village. Accompanied by cheers we pass the finish line after a good one and a half hours. The feeling is really overwhelming like every time and the donuts top it all off. We have never had chocolate donuts at the finish line before.

Every participant receives a finisher shirt and shortly after the last trail runner has reached the finish line after almost two hours, the award ceremony takes place. First we hardly notice anything because the pasta is just too delicious. Salmon, pesto and bolognese sauce with unlimited parmesan topping demand our full attention, also the cake stand is an absolute must. The award ceremony takes place in an overall ranking and an Ötztal ranking, and there are also men’s and women’s categories in each age group. A fact that can cause an above-average number of ranking options.

Happy faces get gingerbread medals and wheat beer glasses and there are also cash prizes here. Although the trail running event is (still) rather small and unknown and the entry fee of 25-30 € is really cheap, the prizes are rather high.

Stuiben Trailrun
Finisher Stuiben Trailrun

Trail running event having potential

But the monetary aspect is actually rather secondary at this event - what impressed us most was the great love to detail with which the whole event was organized on a (still) small scale. From the really delicious food to the choice of route and the family-like atmosphere in Umhausen, the entire event surprised us positively. The organization teaand participants were in a very good mood all day long, even in spite of the occasional rain shower. When we left the hotel for a “second dinner” later in the evening, the party was still going on at the village square.m, assistants on the track

In summary, there are only a few events that made us feel as positive as the Stuiben Run in Umhausen - and we are convinced that a run with such great, loving organization in such a unique and impressive setting will quickly become a permanent highlight in the trail running calendar. Longer and more demanding distances are also being planned for 2018, in order to offer an event highlight also for even more ambitious trail runners.

Magdalena Kalus & Anja Kaiser

Guest authors Magdalena Kalus & Anja Kaiser

… write on their blog www.youareanadventurestory.com about their adventures in the mountains around the world. They also write texts as external authors for the “Bergwelten” Magazine.

Since getting to know each other, they have already climbed Kilimanjaro, the Seven European Summits and countless mountains in the Alps, and are currently training for the Transalpine Run, a seven-day trail run across the Alps.

They always like to come to Ötztal for training, as there is everything an athlete needs: high mountains and wellness opportunities – plus truly challenging trails and delicious treats.

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