Last week our Covent Garden manager, Pete, was invited to run the first stage of the gruelling 2016 GORE-TEX Transalpine Run. This race comes with a fearsome reputation as one of the toughest ultra events in Europe. Runners take part in teams of two (for safety reasons) along the 246km journey across the Alps from Germany in the North, through Austria, and finishing in Brixen, Italy, in the South.
7 stages over 7 days take competitors through some of the most spectacular scenery and punishing terrain the Alps have to offer.
"I arrived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in time for the pasta party and opening ceremony before the week long stage race would begin the next morning.
"I was more than a little apprehensive about the 38km and 2000m climbing I would be doing the next day, for the rest of the runners, tomorrow would be the first day of seven and relatively 'easy' one for them to start with. The excitement at the start line next morning was palpable. After a large breakfast and last minute kit checks we were off.
"The route began with a climb through the forest above Garmisch. It was slow going, but with occasional views of the Eibsee lake below and the impressive rocky bastions of Zugspitze (the highest mountain in Germany, 2962m) above.
"Eventually the ground flattened out and we crossed in to Austria. The descent, welcome at first, became steep and technical along narrow tracks covered in routes.
"I arrived at the valley bottom with legs aching. The final 10km was a torturous slight uphill with stunning views across the meadows to the impressive Sonnenspitze (2412m).
"Finally, I arrived at the finish in Lermoos after 6 hours. Afterwards, enjoying a cold Bavarian beer, I reflected on the dedication of all the athletes to continue running like that for seven days straight.
"Almost a week later my legs were still sore while I followed the progress of the race online!
Still, I couldn't help thinking: Maybe next year... with more training... maybe.
A big thank you to GORE-TEX for the chance to experience the Transalpine race and visit lovely Garmisch.