BLOG: Virtual Race Adventure – Mountain Running in Austria
Kangaroo Hoppet Do It Your Way? Ushuaialoppet Virtual Edition? What is this virtual race format and how does it look like? I and my two brothers started the adventure to discover 3 virtual races during a mountain running tour in Austria. Conclusion: It is a great interim solution!
Even though I am hoping for a full season of ski marathons this winter, I also had to deal with the question: What if my most favourite races will be cancelled this year? What if I can not travel to race destinations? An answer to this question is the virtual race format! It is not THE answer, but it is an answer. So what is a virtual edition of a skiing marathon? Am I sitting in front of my computer to participate and play a game? Well, nope, you are definitely not sitting. That means, yes, first I was sitting in front of my laptop, to register for the Kangaroo Hoppet Do It Your Way – the virtual solution of the cancelled Australian Worldloppet race, Kangaroo Hoppet. After registering I got an email with a start bib to print out and the instructions:
- Register for the distance of your choice
- Choose a discipline you want to do
- Print your bib
- Go for your personal & track it with your sports watch/smartphone
- Upload your training file
- Receive your diploma/medal
- Check your result online
While I was printing my race bib, a thought came into my mind: It would be a good idea, to also participate in Ushuaialoppet’s Virtual Edition. Followed by the thought: It would even be better to do all 3 races, also Merino Muster Virtual Race in one! On the spot I motivated Tristan and Arne, my two brothers, to join me on a virtual race journey through Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, without leaving our country.
International mountain running in Austria
We ended up on the foot of an Austrian mountain, having a mountain run tour ahead of us, that should cover 10 km Kangaroo Hoppet, 10 km Ushuaialoppet and – since 20 km mountain running shouldn’t be too easy – 7 km for Merino Muster.
After the first 5 kilometres up to our first peak, I started to wonder, if my ambitions may have been too high. Wouldn’t have been one race enough for the beginning? Why again did I think it was a good idea to do all three races in one go? But our self-made feeding station on top of the mountain and some encouraging words from Tristan – who surprisingly for me, is in an extraordinary shape – were enough, for now, to continue our journey. After 10 km we arrived our “finish” of Kangaroo Hoppet.
Now it would be the time to be happy, laugh, breath, drink and get a power bar. But not for us. This was only the first of 3 races. Now the Merino Muster 7 km virtual race was on our to-do-list. And it turned out to be Arne’s race: After very painful first 10 km, he now seemed to have new legs and he became our pacemaker for another 7 km. The virtual finish line for our Merino Muster was luckily right next to the beautiful Leopoldsteiner lake, so we moved the finish right into the lake.
Enough for today, we agreed and went into the valley to find a restaurant for a post-race-meal (and the Champions League Semifinals: Bayern Munich vs Olympique Lyon). While eating and watching Bayern make it to the final, we decided on getting some hours of sleep in the woods and continue our mountain run tomorrow morning. Good night, sleep tight! (Which is not that easy with spiders crawling over your face from time to time…)
Day two, race three: Completing our task
Early in the morning, I was waking up my two brothers singing: “Happy Birthday to you…”. It was Arne’s birthday. For any reason, he was not very amused by my early morning concert. Anyhow, after eggs and coffee for breakfast, we took on our running shoes one more time. A third race, a third mountain is awaiting us. Let me tell you, swollen feet and sour legs are not the best material for another 10 km steep up- and downhills. But again, the fact that we will upload the GPS-file of this session to the online results motivated us to keep on running. Without participating in Merino Muster Virtual Race I definitely would not have started another mountain run that day. And this, my friends, I feel is the biggest advantage of a virtual race format, compared to a regular training session: The motivation is higher! The second big advantage is, that it brings you back to good memories. We exchanged and laughed about our previous experiences at the venues of Worldloppet – it at least felt a little bit like Worldloppet. Summarized, a virtual race format has advantages like:
- Motivation during your competition
- Keeps the #skiaroundtheworld -spirit alive
- Brings you back to good memories
- You support the race organization
- We stay connected as a marathon skiing family
- You get new ideas for training challenges
So I do not regret participating in the virtual races. I don’t even regret participating in all three races in two days. Even though it was quite a challenge, I am happy to have spent some great hour together with great people, in a great environment, doing a great hobby. And now I am waiting for my medals to arrive. Meanwhile, I will have a look at the Worldloppet Race Calendar, to find out the next virtual editions to join!
If you now want to be part of the adventure, just go for it. Kangaroo Hoppet and Ushuaialoppet are running until August the 30th and Merino Muster is at least available until 4th September.