Family Time While Helping Dreams Come True

What’s better in life than spending time with family and friends?

Could it be enjoying the fresh Alpine air and the healthful waters of the Gastein valley? Perhaps enjoying a cold beer as you sit atop a mountain after a hard day’s work? Or maybe it would be using your time and skills to help others achieve life-long goals?

What if you could do all of these things while also getting in some quality family time?

That’s exactly what two families local to the Gastein/ SalzburgehrLand region decided to do last June at the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships 2019.

The Gschwandtner and Junger families and their friends went all-in for the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships 2019 and made it a “family event”, one which they intend to turn into a yearly tradition. They spent a weekend in June giving their time freely so that others could have the best experience possible and fully appreciate Austria’s Gastein Valley in all its glory.

We spoke with a member of each family to get their thoughts on why volunteering is so worthwhile and the reasons for others to sign up and work alongside them at aIT 2020.

Martina Lochner (formerly Junger) joined her father, mother, sister and four friends in their local Gastein valley while Robert Thurner was one of a crew of nine from the Gschwandtner clan that would offer their services at the unique, team-relay trail running competition.

Robert signed up with his family because, “if you have an event like this on your doorstep, of course you volunteer for it!”

Martina, meanwhile, has experienced these events from the other side – as an athlete – and she knows how much help is needed to pull off something as huge as the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships.

Martina Lochner and her crew had a blast taking care of athletes at the Alpen Arena in Bad Hofgastein


“Since I, myself, have been competing regularly in various sporting events, I know how important each individual helper is. Events of this size especially need a lot of volunteers and without them it would not be possible. Each one of of them is important – especially the marshals -considering the total distance of 127km. Think about it, if you run 60km and don’t meet anybody the whole time to give you courage, provide you with water and food or just give you the feeling of security…you simply won’t make it.”

Robert and Martina with their families took pride in helping put on such a unique event in their own back yard and gave a great effort in making it run as smoothly as possible for the athletes and spectators, desiring to show off their beautiful land to those from the outside.

As for how the event actually turned out, Martina was super impressed with the athletes and their incredible personal performances but also felt that a certain aspect of the organization really hit the mark: “The incredible performances of every single athlete were really great and the energy in the Alpen Arena when a team ran its final loop together was unbelievable! Team spirit was on a very, very high level with the athletes and also in the organisational team. We – as a family – were very impressed by the topic of sustainability. Everyone knows that an event like this can create an enormous mountain of waste – just the packaging of the supplements, the cups, etc. It was very impressive to see that it can be done differently. At the finish line catering we saw reusable cups, reusable bottles – for the distribution of fruit there were plates and platters and no paper plates. If something was disposable, we made sure that it was biodegradable. The whole area around the Alpen Arena was super clean at all times and you could see that the athletes liked to hang out there!”

For his part, Robert felt that the connection between the athletes and spectators was something really special: “To see how the athletes were really carried by the audience and the amazing atmosphere among the runners and spectators was amazing! And in general, such a mega event does something special with a place – everybody is excited, motivated and above all interested in what’s happening and what goals are being achieved at the finish line.”

Robert Thurner and members of the Gschwandtner family worked up on the slopes as course marshals and at various aid stations while cousin Theresa competed


These two inspiring families and all of the 350+ people who gave their time to make the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships 2019 possible would tell you that volunteering is its own reward: “It is a unique event with countless ‘goose-bump’ moments, not only for the athletes but also for the many volunteers. It is a wonderful thing to look into the happy faces of the finishers and these are magic moments that nobody can take away from you.

The unique mountain scenery, the irrepressible will from the runners to finish and solve huge personal challenges triggered incredible emotions from everyone involved and put the entire Gastein valley in an indescribable mood.”

As Martina spent her time at the finish line with her family and friends, Robert spent the day with his squad in the middle of the Alpine paths. During this long Saturday afternoon that he had eagerly anticipated for many months, there was one moment that was really special: “I had been looking forward to this day for weeks. Fully motivated and with enough food provisions and my camping chair, I set off for my position on the Schlossalm. All day long I made sure that the runners were running in the right direction, I motivated and supported them as well as I could and the energy was great! The highlight of the day though, was the moment when my cousin Theresa Gschwandtner ran around the bend and came towards me beaming with joy!”

The Gschwandtners and Jungers were integral to making the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships 2019 possible and Robert would love for you to join them at aIT 2020 this June: “It’s so much fun volunteering for an event like this, I can’t wait to do it all again in 2020 and I hope many more people will join us!”

Martina added: “Only through the many volunteers can such events continue to be held – only then can this multitude of athletes from around the world experience this region. Rarely do you get the chance to meet so many top  international athletes in one place and the energy and good mood you get back from everyone is enough to last for at least the next month in the office.”

If you’ve gotten into the mood for volunteering now and would like to be part adidas INFINITE TRAILS then go to gastein.com/ait-volunteers and sign up for the 2020 event. You won’t regret it.