The Vertical Open as Told Through Photos

As they say, one picture is worth a thousand words, so let me tell you a story with some of the many pictures from the last June-weekend in Gastein/SalzburgerLand at the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships.

Yes, the World Championships themselves were sadly canceled due to extreme weather but there was an entire weekend of fun and enjoyment that was a joy to be a part of.

First up, the kickoff to the three days of fun in Gastein/SalzburgerLand – the Prologue (Vertical Open) – planned to send 350 plus runners from Bad Hofgastein along a flat track of around 7 km before finally  reaching Bad Gastein and heading up a steady incline to the peak of Mount Stubnerkogel.

The starting line was filled with excited trail runners from more than 20 countries and though a cool wind swept through the valley and rain threatened to fall, the countdown was completed at 5:00 pm on Friday evening and they were off!

Some of the trail runners struggled through the flat portion but really picked things up as they headed through the picturesque Bad Gastein.

Then things got really steep but there were still smiles to be seen.

As the runners – led by Italian, Martin Dematteis, American Josh Eberley and German, Michelle Maier – reached the 12 km mark, the race director was forced to shorten the route due to weather conditions on the top of Stubnerkogel.

Though the route was now 15.5 km rather than 19 km, the competitors were still in for a beautiful end to their run.

At the new finish line, the winners (Dematteis for men and Maier for women) and all the rest were taken up to the peak by gondola.

Here they were treated to a Summit Party to rest, congratulate each other and enjoy refreshments and a hot meal that were quite the boon after such a difficult run.

The athletes were then given a ride back down on the Bergbahnen gondola and they all headed immediately to their hotels to fall into their beds for a good night of sleep.

Everyone I talked to loved the run and were blown away by the scenery and mountain paths. Some said it was very difficult, others that it was just perfect and they were ready for more but as a whole, they thoroughly enjoyed the Vertical Open.

The winner of the Friday run, Martin Dematteis, said this after crossing the finish line, “I ran very fast in the flat portion so in the vertical part I was a little tired but it was Okay. I enjoyed myself and for me it was easy because I do not run Sunday. I am happy and today I dedicate this win to my twin brother who was sick and could not be here,”

“I was a bit bummed that they cut the race short because I was just starting to feel good,” commented American Pro, Abby Levene after the race. “The run started really flat and then boom it went up in a steep incline, something much tougher than I usually experience in the states. But then it got to be really runnable which is why I am a bit disappointed. I still really enjoyed it,” 

Amateur Spanish team, “Jinetes” arrived in Bad Hofgastein just minutes before the race but were all smiles when I chatted with them on Saturday. “It was very hard because of the high elevation and it was difficult to breathe for us. The trails were very nice though and we are not here to win but to have fun and enjoy running together,” said Dani, one of the trio of childhood friends.

I’ll be posting more conversations with the athletes in the near future because the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships is all about having a unique and sustainable event that puts the runners before anything else.

I would also love to hear your impressions of the prologue or your stories from the weekend or any input on how we could make it a better event. Please feel free to contact me on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ at any time!

I am in for 2019!
Are you?

Kevin Gillikin