At Ryzon, we live and love sport. Activity. Nature. We are full of energy. So it's no wonder that the occasional meeting quickly turns into a walk, a bike ride, or a football match together. And like any good team, we support each other, pursue a common goal and, above all, enjoy spending time together.
Thanks to the 32 hours we are currently testing in our team, there is enough time to find a balance to concentrated work phases or to experience new things together with the "Tribe." Marie and Elisa from the Ryzon Tribe tell us how a couple of the girls from the Ryzon store in Cologne ended up at the Pitz Alpine Glacier Trail, a trail running event in Tyrol, and discovered trail running for themselves despite some altitude meters.
Running -- my favorite of the three disciplines of all triathletes in the world: swimming, running, and cycling. But what happens when you send a bunch of these exact athletes, who are also at home in the flatlands of Cologne, to a Glacier Alpine Trailrun on a three-thousand-meter peak in Austria?
Right, half the team grab their heads in fright and say "Whaaaat, are you really going to do that, who came up with that idea?"
What started out as a crazy idea last summer turned into a serious one towards the end of last year, and we decided to tackle the project "Ryzon goes Pitztal Alpine Glacier Trail" with eight girls. Among them were two of us (including me), who had the great idea to run 30 km over hill after hill because we wanted to slowly "move on to longer competitions" (all triathletes know this sentence, but I have never run more than 22 km before, and I can count the few long distances on one hand).
The idea at that time: we would do a lot of long preparation runs together, go to the Siebengebirge to train on trails, and the most important point of all, we still have a long time until August 2021. No way! The summer approached and almost all of us had to realize that the time went by a bit faster than expected and that although we did our usual Triathlon training, we didn't run a single meter in altitude.
Therefore, in mid-June, we began collecting some of the dreaded altitude meters in training and ran the Jahndenkmal (the only "mountain" in Cologne) up and down a thousand times (small spoiler: approx. 10 times up and down the Jahndenkmal only add up to approx. 120 m - so it remained exciting). At the beginning of August, the time had finally come and we started the journey to Pitztal. The very next day, we had to get our start numbers and get a taste of the mountain air, which made everyone's nerves rise considerably.
When the day of all days, Saturday 7 August, finally arrived, I found out that I was allowed to stand on the start line with Anna Hahner and Co. in the elite field of the race -- thanks to my target time last year. Now, I secretly wished for my familiar surroundings back and prayed that it was still a Triathlon that I was about to race. Unfortunately, no, not at all: the starting signal was given and I ran the first kilometer (next spoiler: but really only this one first kilometer) together with the elite runners. Then it was straight into the first climb for everyone, which, for me, meant gritting my teeth and firmly believing that the unspeakable calf pain would subside at some point and that the whole climb would be worth it with the first view of the Riffelsee and everything would be forgotten. And so it was. The first ascent still in my legs, I went down highly euphoric through the only passage with spectators to the Riffelsee and then continued on some somewhat "flatter" passages until the next ascents (I stopped counting at some point) came. There were even some via ferrata passages with ropes for us 30km runners, which I was quite afraid of beforehand, but which were not too bad during the run thanks to enough adrenalin in my veins. Over the course of the 30km, I repeatedly made new, short-lived friendships with other runners, which resulted from the different running speeds and have remained in my mind to this day. The compatible atmosphere, nice conversations, running together up and downhill in breathtaking nature set free inner strength and willpower, which I have rarely experienced before! Despite all the positive feelings, a somewhat unpleasant thought kept coming back to me: keep going until kilometer 20! Absolutely! Because from then on it's all downhill and you "just" have to let it roll! And that's exactly what happened. Having overcome the last "cliff" (sorry for the non-trail run jargon), I finally saw the somewhat wider gravel path, which made it possible to finally get up to speed a bit more than on the, often very narrow, and rocky trails. Fortunately, my legs carried me over the last eight kilometers with almost no cramp, but with the thought mantra: "It's almost done; think of the moment afterwards; think of the happiness afterwards; think of how proud you can be of yourself when you've done it; this is your longest run so far; you can do it" to the finish. I did it and I could hardly believe it myself!
All of a sudden, all the tension in me that I had not even been aware of fell away from me.
I was able to experience an overwhelming feeling of joy at that moment. And that, too, together with the greatest girls in the world, who were waiting for me just two meters away and cheered me loudly at the finish line! That is the best feeling ever! For a short time I could enjoy the moment, but then suddenly a completely different feeling: thirst, water, sugar - and, most importantly, now! Now the joy of the finish and finally being able to drink in peace took over and I first had to fill up all my stores before I could continue to enjoy the whole scenery and the finish. I also saw my running buddies, whom I had found on the course, at the finish line and had a short chat with all of them. I also didn't feel the strain in my legs too badly for the first few hours straight after the run, so with a finish line soda in my stomach, I went crazy for the next few hours. But the real blow came full force the next day and the sore muscles promised to stay for a while and not go away quite so quickly. On the second day, this exact feeling manifested itself and bang, there it was and it stayed: the sorest muscles of my life - for a whole week!
But even this can't have been all that bad afterwards because one day later, in our cosy eight-bed room with youth hostel feeling, we decided to directly choose the next trail run competition and would love to persuade all kinds of people in the world to sign up to do this incredible, emotional rollercoaster and experience as well! In conclusion, I am very satisfied with my time and 7th place overall in the women's category, including the elite field, and can now say that triathletes can also run trails - even if a little slower and more cautiously (especially downhill), but perhaps with all the more joy and fun!
Running is the easiest way for me to switch off and leave all the everyday stress behind for a few minutes. But running also allows me to gather new energy, recharge my batteries, and the best ideas come from running. I got into running during my studies. I basically wrote my bachelor's thesis while running. The longer the run, the more creative I became, and suddenly I could formulate the sentences quite easily. I finished my bachelor's degree a long time ago, but I kept running.
But how does a hobby runner who only knows the mountains from skiing in winter end up driving eight hours from Cologne to Pitztal to voluntarily run 16 km and 850 m of altitude?
The answer: I didn't really know what I was signing up for.
I just heard that three more girls from Ryzon would be starting. I briefly checked whether I had the weekend off and then just said, all right, I'll come along, without knowing what I was going to do.
The first question on the day of arrival was: have you trained for this? The general answer was: yes -- well I went running a few times but not really.
Well, we were all perfectly prepared.
I didn't really feel in shape, but I just wanted it. I wanted to finally have a race again and I wanted the excitement and the atmosphere at such events. I didn't have any expectations and didn't set myself a time goal, but just wanted to enjoy the run and have fun.
When I stood at the front of the starting line on Saturday morning, my nervousness was already very high. But after the first few meters, I was completely in my element. The first 600 hm were on the first kilometers and I had the most respect for the climb. So, I managed my strength well. Nevertheless, I was delighted when I saw Nils, our photographer, shortly before the end of the climb, because then I knew I had survived the worst part of the route -- at least that's what I thought at that moment.
After we had circled the Riffelsee, we went downhill. At first, I enjoyed the beautiful view and just "let it roll." But I soon realized that going downhill is not so easy.
My thoughts were circling around, worrying about twisting my ankle or falling down the slope to the left of me. At the same time, I didn't want to lose any time because I knew I was doing well.
Eyes closed and through. I should have practiced that.
Once we reached the bottom without falling, a wide gravel path led us the last few kilometers to the finish. Here, we could really step on the gas again. At some point I looked at my watch and saw that I could finish under 2 hours 30.
That's when my ambition got the better of me: that would mean I had a chance of making the top ten.
The endorphins in me rose more and more and when I crossed the finish line and my watch showed a time of 2 hours 27 minutes! Done!!!
Only one of our group of girls had made it to the finish line before me and hugged me.
I was completely overwhelmed. It wasn't quite enough for the top ten, but nevertheless I have rarely been as happy as I was after this run.
Now we had to wait a little until the others arrived. When everyone was there, the relief was more than visible in every single face.
After the tension and adrenaline slowly left, we all just longed for rest. The legs were heavy and I slowly realized that I would probably have the worst muscle ache of my life. And so it was!
But it was worth it. Born out of a crazy idea, we have all become trail running fans. That means next year I'll train properly and then the 32km will be waiting for me.
But no matter what the distance. One thing is clear: this will not be my last trail run.