Our sponsored athlete, Shona Thomson, is just back from the Alps, where she was running a stage of the GORE-TEX TransAlpine Run (TAR). We caught up with Shona afterwards to find out how she got on...
What does the GORE-TEX Transalpine Race (TAR) involve?
The Transalpine Race is one of the most demanding yet picturesque trail runs in the world. It's an 8-day event, taking in four countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy) and covering 270km with 16,300m of ascent, so it's hugely demanding. Each day averages 42km with a typical vertical gain of 2,300m.
You were running the second stage of the race. How did you get on?
I was running the 25km stage from Lech to St Anton. At 8am on Sunday 30 August, I lined up with 600 other runners from around the world to begin the second day of the TAR. I love the atmosphere at the start of international. I could sense the tension, excitement and anticipation of what the Alps would do to us. Although the shortest stage, it had 1,899m of up and down.
Unfortunately on the day, it just didn't come together for me. The altitude of the Alps, the steep ascents and descents, the scorching heat, nausea, a niggling injury and the brutal time cut-offs all converged and it proved just too much. Disappointingly, my race ended after just 15km at the beautiful Eriacharlpe.
We're sorry to hear that. How are you feeling now?
This is my first ever DNF. Of course, I was disappointed and my confidence took a shake. However, sometimes things don't happen as we want and I certainly wasn't the only one who suffered on the day.
There were many positives from this trip. The scenery was even more majestic than I could have ever expected. I have skied in Austria so I knew just what a utopia the area was in winter, but I was amazed by its metamorphosis into a summer running paradise. The climb up to the summit of the Rüfikopf (2,339m) provided us with the most breathtaking view across famed Arlberg region, known to most for its world-class skiing.
The race atmosphere was terrific and as always it was great to meet many other runners from around the world.
What kit did you wear on the day?
It was extremely hot on race day. I wore a Gore Running Air Ladies Tee and Gore Running Essential Ladies tights. I used Salomon Speedcross trail running shoes from Ellis Brigham and a Salomon Trail 20 running pack. My Black Diamond Carbon FLZ Collapsible Poles also turned out to be a life saver!
What else did you do when you were out in the Alps?
Whilst in the area, I also took the opportunity to visit the Gore European Centre of Excellence in Feldkirchen-Westerham. It was amazing to hear more about the fabrics, apparel and footwear and to see the products being tested in the labs. The processes that make GORE-TEX breathable and waterproof are incredibly interesting.
Would you consider doing the full 8 day stage race?
This event is very special. Some day I would like to come back and settle unfinished business. However, the training for this level of event should not be underestimated. The climbs and terrain were some of the toughest I've ever run on so it'd be something that would require a very different type of training to my normal marathon training plans.
If you would like to run the GORE-TEX Transalpine Race you can find more details at transalpine-run.com