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The highest Falls, the sweetest Runner & the best View

The sports brand Dynafit has invited journalists to scenic Ötztal Valley for material tests. They are completely enchanted by the picture-book mountains and the wellness sessions at the Aqua Dome thermal spa. There was one thing they hadn’t planned: running towards Tirol’s highest waterfall with Asterix on their feet. Austria’s probably sweetest trail runner accompanies them while the mountain landscape seems to become even more beautiful with each step.

Trailrunning to Stuibenfall

Fresh water rushing down from the mountains – less refreshing beads of sweat on our face. We have run less than two kilometers by now. The route from the car park up to the Stuiben Falls is highly idyllic but also quite steep.

We didn’t stroll about but we conquered the stretch in real trail running speed. Dynafit – one of the leading ski mountaineering brands – is eager to show us journalists how to move quickly in the summery mountains. High pulse rate. Soft forest grounds along the Waalweg water theme trail.
 

Siren calls into the valley

As Dynafit didn’t promise to become a “mountain running speed queen in only 2 days” or to find “the fastest way to the top of the fitness peak” we remembered the reason for this trip: “… and we want to try and test our latest mountain running equipment against the spectacular Alpine backdrop of Ötztal Valley – followed by a soothing thermal spa session at the Aqua Dome wellness temple.” One of the most scenic Alpine valleys + a bit of running sports + pamper program = I join in!

During the introductory unit we still discussed about trail running in particular. The definition we found: “Trail running starts where asphalt ends.”

My home town is Munich and I prefer running along narrow footpaths on the banks of the Isar river. I don’t really like running on roads. I love more varied terrain: roots, rocks and trees. Trail running in Ötztal is a completely different thing in the true sense of the word. The scenery is magnificent. The altitude level is much higher. And all routes are ascending. Ask my legs and lungs.

Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Trailrunning to Stuibenfall

Asterix & the sweetest Runner

Of course, we could also walk. But seriously, trail running is much more fun! We don’t even run that fast, we jump on obstacles and do some sidesteps. What’s best, the equipment is incredibly light: the Gore-Tex jacket and the boots are almost weightless compared to normal hiking gear. Generally, hiking boots ranks among the Obelix features when it comes to heavy mountain sports gear. But this model seems to be a true Asterix: low ankle, flexible but solid. It is a Feline GTX that really impressed us with his high-tech features and clever construction. Only one thing is for sure: running in light shoes doesn’t exclude huffing and puffing (but it’s much more fun).

Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Trailrunning to Stuibenfall

Short of breath we look up to the Stuiben Falls with a bright smile on the face. What a view! Still 720 steps and we are not in a hurry. Journalists are said to be very observing. Things will change quickly on occasion of the Stuiben Run – the undisputed trail running event highlight. I am not the competitive type but I am quite attracted by the Night Challenge, a fast sprint comprising 340 altitude meters on a length of 1.6 kilometers along the floodlit waterfall …

For our expert guide Martin Scheiber this is probably the daily training before he goes to sleep as he is one of the Stuiben Run organizers and the Glacier Run in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl at the rear end of the valley. The main event is a high Alpine marathon featuring 2784 altitude meters.

Martin can tell us more about it while we enjoy a short rest and photo stop. He is very proud of his home valley although he is also a very ambitious trail running coach. And perhaps the sweetest – and fittest – of all trail runners: as a pastry cook Martin manages the Café Ötztalerei in Umhausen.

Where Wellness starts

After incredible 720 steps and almost as many photos we have conquered Tirol’s biggest waterfall. On top we reach a small forest area where we start running on mossy ground and over little rocks. No problem at all with our grip soles. The idyllic hamlet of Niederthai at 1500 meters altitude is already in sight – Martin’s favorite Nordic skiing track can be found here in winter.

Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Trailrunning to Stuibenfall

A moment after we are sitting on the terrace of lovely Gasthof Leiter’s Hoamatl, waiting for a hearty snack. It didn’t take long to reach this wonderful world far away from everyday life. Trail running is not like hiking – which doesn’t mean that you don’t have time to explore nature. Quite the contrary: you perceive nature even more intensively.

Sitting here on the sun-flooded terrace, I recognize that my wellness stay in Ötztal has already started. Looking forward to even more relaxing moments to come at the Aqua Dome thermal spa …

 

 

(Images: © Claudia Ziegler / DYNAFIT)

Trailrunning to Stuibenfall
Sissi Pärsch

Guest Author Sissi Pärsch

… is a freelance journalist writing for several magazine like “BIKE” and “Bergwelten” (in German) – therefore she is a regular guest in Ötztal.

“Something I can tell you about Ötztal: it is 67 kilometers long, ascending from its entrance to the rear end with its majestic mountain peaks above 3000 meters altitude. And this valley will never stop surprising me with new and spectacular insights and outlooks.”

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