The Vertical Open and Why You Should Be There

From my 20-plus years of experience in America and a few years now spent in Germany, I can tell you that there is a big cultural difference in terms of how each place views the difference between quality and quantity. In general, the mind set in the U.S.A is that more is better, bigger is better still and biggest or most is best. In Germany and I believe in Austria as well, the focus is typically more on quality. Something should be done to perfection and with precise attention to even the smallest details if you want it to be successful.

The adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships, is the best of both worlds in that it offers both quantity and quality in all aspects.

The quality is obvious. adidas and the area of Gastein have gone above and beyond in making things darn near perfect for athlete and spectator alike. They’ve planned things to the finest detail, from a laundry service to a relax and rehabilitation area quite literally at the finish line. The trails are also routed with great precision and every minute of the weekend has been carefully thought through.

The quantity can be easily seen if you check out our website. There are things to do all day every day from the Thursday registration and check-in, Friday’s Vertical Open, Saturday’s morning run and socializing and finally culminating in the main event of the World Championships on Sunday. There are parties and soccer screenings, get-togethers and race preparations but most importantly there are the races. The big one is on Sunday but almost equally important is the Prologue or Vertical Open which takes place on Friday starting at 5:00 pm.

What exactly is the Vertical Open?

It is a breathtaking route (19 km, 1.500 vertical metres) right up to the summit of the Stubnerkogel. Once you reach the top, you’ll be able to enjoy a totally unique after-race party. You can party on a mountain until midnight! It’s just the right combination of sports and partying to kick off a magnificent weekend.


It’s also a mandatory part of the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships because the starting order for the teams on Sunday will be decided by the finish time of each runner on Friday night. The intervals between starting times (chasing start) will be derived from a complex algorithm determined by the finish times in the Prologue.

The fee is only 33€ and anyone and everyone can be part of the Vertical Open. If you think it might be too much for you to run on Friday and Sunday in the World Championships or if you couldn’t find two teammates (please check out our Facebook community or email us if you need to find running mates) the Vertical Open makes it possible to still be a part of this premier event and run alongside world-class trail runners the likes of Luis Alberto Hernando, Timothy Olson and Abby Levene.

What all do you get besides a spot in the Vertical Open for 33€?

  • Participant gift from adidas
  • Summit party on Stubnerkogel Mountain
  • Free descent with cable car from Stubnerkogel
  • Nutrition during the competition
  • Clothes transport to the finish line
  • Shuttle back to the start

Race Director, Mike Hamel, had a super-informative Q&A session a few weeks ago that gave an in-depth look at the Prologue and how the chasing start works. I highly recommend that you watch the entire video which also covers topics like insurance and environmental protection.


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Vertical Open info starts at 7:00 minute mark. 

I’ve learned that bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes you need some intense attention to detail to pull off something like this unique trail run experience.

I’m in.

Are you?

~Kevin Gillikin