4-Trails 2013, Stage 4 – Report

4-Trails Stage 4: 13.07.2013 (Landeck to Samnaun, 48,5 km, 2940 HM)

Report / Review / Laufbericht

4 Ochsenscharte

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Longest stage of my life (so far…)!

The evening before the briefing to stage four of the 4-Trails brought up an increase of the stage’s length due to a rockfall right at the beginning of the track. The new track length was announced to be around 47 km. Finishing in Samnaun I measured 48,5 km with my GPS-device, the truth probably being somewhere in the middle.

Due to the length of the track start was on 7 o’clock. So one last time we had to get up early, had an early breakfast and an early transport to the starting grid. The first few kilometers led through the valley on paved road, until we reached the paved road leading up – with a sometimes runnable, sometimes not runnable slope – to the small settlement of Hochgallmigg. Right behind Hochgallmigg the first forest roads were reached, which soon were replaced by trails heading upwards parallel to an alpine brook. The brook was carrying a lot more water than last year and was rushing respectively.

04 02 klein

Once we crossed the brook over a bridge, the rushing was soon gone and we entered the ski runs of the skiing resort Serfaus-Fis-Ladis near Schöngampalm. We went up several ski runs (all of them being categorized „red“ in winter) heading towards the summit of Zwölferkopf, where the first food stop was positioned. 1.600 meters of elevation gain nonstop were gone. :o) I glady ate some fruit, refilled my backpack with iso and encountered problems closing my waterskin. After successless fumbling and fidgeting an aide helped me out and finally got the waterskin closed. I heard of someone whose waterskin broke in the middle of nowhere of stage 2. This thought is pure horror and I – sweating always like in hell – would dehydrate very quickly without having something to drink. So I thankfully left food stop one with a refilled backpack…

The next few kilometers of trail were heading towards the Kölner Hut in Komperdell, which actually is the „hub“ of the above mentioned skiing resort. On our way to it, we passed some avalanche barriers and the summit station of Sattelkopfbahn, always running on great runnable trails with likewise panoramic views.

At Kölner Hut my bib number was about to leave me and tried to get of the band it was attached to. Since I was on a forest road at that moment I was able to get it fixed while running, but it got on my nerves anyway and therefore I insulted the bib a few times… ;o)

On serpentines we quickly gained height again, heading for the valley station of „Mooslift“ now. The sun was burning down with high intensity and the temperature was nearly unbearable. I was glad that some kind of huge tube reached out the embankment to the left. EVERY runner was glad to get a cool head and cap there. I was not sure if this something, coming out of the tube, was drinkable. Since I had no testing-cat with me, I used it for cooling purposes only… ;o)

Half way up the serpentines we escaped left and were glad to be on trails instead of stupid forest roads. The slope got steeper and steeper again, until we finally reached the valley station of Mooslift. I was glad to see a nearly five meters broad stream coming down there. I crouched down, cooled myself again and thirstily drank the cool and refreshing water, which tasted excellent! Since no bridge was at hand, I simply ran through the water, which was at least 30 cm deep. My ill-treated feet let out a yelp of delight… :o)

The next few kilometers went through the ski runs up to Arezzjoch, a sad climax of how badly predatory exploitation of nature might look like, by expanding skiing resorts in size and time (skiing from early winter to late spring) likewise. What in winter still looks fantastic, in summer looks like a desolating desert, with roads and piles of stone, which normally do not belong here. Since I enjoy skiing and snowboarding in winter, I always get a guilty conscience, when I see those obstructed mountain areas in summer.

We reached food stop two up there. I refilled my waterskin, ate some fruit and left for the final ascent up to Ochsenscharte. Through some boulder areas we reached Hexenseehütte. Spontanously the persons, who run Hexenseehütte, offered an unplanned water supply. I drank, thanked and went on luckily, leaving the skiing resort into high alpine terrain!

The snowfields were even bigger than last year, and I was again lucky to have poles with me, since it was much easier crossing the snowfields with them. Once my foot colapsed through loose snow and I sank in up to my knee. I tried to pull my foot out again, got stuck for a short moment and saw how my foot pod (measuring device for speed and distance) went of it’s holding device and wobbled on into a field of boulders. I quickly grabbed for it and was lucky to fetch it before it was able to fall down into some crevice. I fixed the pod to my shoe again and continued.

The final ascent to Ochsenscharte was covered with snow, so it was much harder to get up there than last year. On top we were awaited by the great Swiss-Lady with here cowbell who made noise like a platoon of spectators! Thank you again! With goosepimples I went up the last few meters and was happy to have reached the highest peak of the 4-Trails – 2.940 meters of positive elevation gain in one day… Steven – a guy I knew from last year – had caught up with me. Someone took a photo of us and we started the descent to Samnaun.

A large downhill snowfield had to be crossed. This was so much fun! With poles it almost felt like skiing. But Trailshoes are not as good controlable as skis are… so once I slipped and bumped to my fundament, laughing out loud at the same time, because it was so much fun. ;o)

Snow was gone soon then and I ran on, crossing green „fields“ on trails and through trailless terrain, enjoying the great landscape! The high alpine terrain was over when I reached the first alp. Form there on a steep forest road was used to bring us down with large steps to the valley, where food stop three was waiting for us. I refilled and ate a last time, and together with another participant went on the last 8 km to Samnaun. Last year this was close to a castrophe to me, this year it was just great. We pushed us mutually and the light ups and downs of the forest and paved roads soon were gone and the „1 km to go“ sign showed up in front of us.

04 klein

We passed the finish line together, really enjoying the moment! Nearly 160 km, 10.000 meters of positive elevation accomplished; 22.600 kcal burned… The last stage took me 7:26 h to finish. More than last year, but conditions were not really comparable (longer track, more snow, more sunshine).

I covered the whole distance in 25:18 h. My performance was a lot more constant than last year, which can be seen in the ranking, just stage two being an outlier. The density of strong participants grew enormously since last year. I dropped to place 58 in „Men“ category of 112 finishers (relative positions is nearly similar to last year’s). This year 502 participants started, but only 394 reached every finish line.

Moreover: Ranking at stage running is of marginal importance, since adventure, experience and last but not least the „spirit“ of the runner’s community is much more important to me!

If you are interested, you may have a look at my heart-frequency-chart. Same here. High-intensity out of reach… ;o)

hf stage1 klein


Functional check:
Exhausted: less than last year, but still totally tired
Aching muscles: none (!)
Blisters: none
Toes: two blue
Walking: no problem
Stairs: no problem


Thanks to Plan-B for a great race again! Nothing I have to criticise! I am really looking forward to run again with you!

Last but not least to my wife and kids for tolerating my training and accepting my endurance insanity!

Lessons learned:

  • Eight hours of efficient training (in peak training weeks) are sufficient to take part in stage running in an acceptable manner.
  • Use poles! I had less aching muscles and felt much more secure in slippery or exposed parts of the track than last year.
  • Bring enough food with you. When I was in hotel, I always needed something to eat. For example I came home from the pasta party (where I ate enough for two), and again ordered something to eat there… :o)
  • Salomon Sense Mantra (Stage 1 and 3) and Asics Fuji Trainer 2 (Stage 2 and 4) were great shoes for covering those tracks.
  • Do not think 4-Trails are completely runnable (I never did): Many slopes will force you to walk, since this often is more economical than running. This mix of speed-hiking, running, jumping and downhill-dancing is – for me – that extra something which makes trailrunning so interesting.


Please click here to view photos to this stage in my iCloud-Photo-Stream!


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