Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

June 30, 2015

My Supporters for the Red Bull X-Alps!

Don't ask me how I ended up with 5 supporters for the Red Bull X-Alps, I'm not sure myself!   But I'm not going to turn down help, so we are all in it for the adventure.   Hopefully they'll have fun along the race trying to find me, feed me, and keep my legs turning over.  

So far it's been quite the party in the campground with all the teams arriving in Fuschl and getting to know each other.  My supporters are a very multicultural group.   Jarek and Boga are from Poland but spend half their year doing Paragliding and Trekking tours in Chile, Argentina and Patagonia.  The other half is spent in the Alps, so it's eternal summer!   They run a tour company called Antofaya Expeditions.  Cano is from Chile, this is his first time out of the country...he'd never seen rain before, or green grass and forests!  Chuck is from Colorado and wanted an adventure in the Alps...I think he's going to get one! 

The Prologue is tomorrow and the weather is looking great.  We've had a perfectly sunny week so far in camp doing race preparation, which is really nice.  Nothing like dry shoes and sunshine to be able to sit outside and chat, as well as fly the local sites around here.   Hopefully the good weather holds for the race to start!

Cano, Jarek, Boga, Chuck, myself, and Jim!
Jarek and Boga waiting to launch at the Gaisberg

Stress Test, and Flying above Red Bull Headquarters

To make sure I was fit enough to take part in the Red Bull X-Alps, part of the in processing included take a Stress Test.  I did this on a bicycle, starting a low wattage and increasing every 2 minutes until exhaustion.  It's actually similar to the VO2 Max test, except that these doctors weren't concerned with my oxygen consumption.  Instead they had me hooked up to the Electrocardiogram sensors, plus  a blood pressure cuff.   The doctors pronounced my in perfect health, and sent me off with detailed reports of my test which I can't read at all!

This afternoon I hiked up above Fuschl and got to fly my new race wing, which I just picked up a few days ago from Konny, the Ozone Dealer in Germany.  Thanks Matt G from Ozone for sorting me out (quickly!) after the wing I ordered for the race arrived the wrong size! (my fault).   Oops.

So now all of my gear is ready for the race to start, the athletes are arriving in Fuschl, and just a few more days to go!

Hooked up to the EKG machine and pedaling away
Stephan Kruger of RSA launching above Fuschl

Looking down at Red Bull Headquarters near Fuschl

June 29, 2015

Wing Stickers and a Photoshoot

Now that we are here in Fuschl, headquarters of Zoom Productions and Red Bull, it's time to get everything ready for the X-Alps!   At the race headquarters, I got all of my clothing from Salewa, new electronics from Garmin, and laid out my wing on the gym floor to put stickers on it.  

We rushed to get the stickers all placed so I could take all my gear on a photoshoot with the Red Bull photographers.   After waiting for the rain to stop, I got to pose for the camera with my new clothing, phone, camera, and the obligatory can of Red Bull! 

Photos of the shoot are posted here:  
Dave Turner and I on the photoshoot, posing with the photographers!   Photo Credit: Felix Wölk

Red Bull in hand and ready to fly!   Photo Credit: Vitek Ludvik
Posing for the camera...don't smile!  Photo Credit: Vitek Ludvik
All the Red Bull you can drink...but I'm saving it for the race :)
Race gear ready for the athletes to arrive!

June 28, 2015

Postalklamm Via Ferrata

Our last Via Ferrata before arriving in Fuschl for the Red Bull X-Alps race preparation week.   The Postalklamm came highly recommended by someone we had met on another trail the week before.   In reality, it was an interesting "adventure" course but kind of flat, except for hiking out afterwards.  We brought our friend and X-Alps supporter Chuck along with us for a day in the narrow canyon.

The book said that this canyon should be avoided when wet...but really it should say, "It's always wet, just be careful!"   Anyway, the ferrata took us up and over a very narrow canyon, crossing several times on Tarzan rope bridges, wooden ladders, and even a single cable suspended over the abyss!  The small river flow below us and sometimes beside us with a few waterfalls.

After the narrow section, we hiked out and up and finished up with a tough, exposed, but fun section on some vertical rock.  There was an option to do an "F" section, which was a single cable on an overhanging rock about 20 feet high.  I climbed up to it but in the end didn't feel like trying it...perhaps with a top rope I would give it a go, but it's too late to be getting injured before the big race!   We went around instead on the "D" section which was hard but not extreme.


June 25, 2015

FlyNet XC3: X-Alps Sponsor!

Check out my new favorite Hike n Fly Vario!   The FlyNet XC3 is a vario with integrated GPS and comes in a VERY small package.   It's so tiny I can't believe it...about 1/3 the size and weight of my cell phone.  I know, that's a very scientific measurement.   Ok, it actually weighs about 52 grams.   Pretty much nada.  

The GPS/Vario can be used independently of anything else.  In other words, you push the button to turn it on, it beeps like a vario, records your flight, and then you can download the information later.  Simple.  

Size comparison of the FlyNet to the Flymaster Vario.  Pretty small!
Or, you can bluetooth it to your phone or iPad or whatever screen you want to use in flight, and see all of your flight information just like a normal, heavier Vario.   It's compatible with about 20 different Apps for iPhone, Android, Windows.   So far I've used it with FlySkyHigh, FreeFlight, and FlyNet Apps and they all work great.  Plus you can customize the color displays and maps to show the information you need for your flight.   

Since I'm carrying my phone anyway, this seems like a pretty nice way to avoid carrying larger electronics on a short hike n fly.   I do carry a small backup battery for my phone, like the Flip 10 Recharger by Goal Zero, as using bluetooth in flight drains it rather quickly.  

The price is right, too!  This little device is 1/2 or 1/3 the cost of a Flymaster or Flytec vario, making it an affordable backup, or great for those just starting out.  

This XC3 was just featured in the German Paragliding magazine Thermik.   I could only guess at what some of it said but I've posted it below.  

For an English version, check out Cross Country Magazine's review here:

Thermik (German) Paragliding Magazine

June 24, 2015

At the Dachstein!

The Dachstein Massif.  It's been looming in my thoughts for years.   The first major turn point in the X-Alps, and some fine via ferratas.   We almost came here last year, and then didn't.  Too many other places to go.  We did come here a month ago, but the amount of snow still lingering was too much.  We are here now, but this rain...it just keeps coming.

Hopefully this week we will actually get onto, and fly off of, the Dachstein.  In the meantime, there was a little fresh snow on it this morning.  Yikes.

Half a day without rain showers was enough to get into the Silberkarklamm for a low-level day out.  A "klamm" in German is a slot canyon, more or less.  There are quite a few narrow river canyons in the Alps.  In southern Utah, they are usually hidden, hard to find, and require technical climbing gear, and you can only go in dry weather.  Here in the Alps, they are filled with waterfalls, well-advertised, usually with a small entrance fee, and lots of well-built ladders and walkways.  Oh, and they love to build Klettersteig routes up the sheer cliff walls.   So you get to climb a fun route, plus see some cool waterfalls in a naturally scenic spot.  Couldn't be better.

There were 3 short Klettersteigs in the Silberkarklamm.  We did them all, with a stop in between for some soup at a small hut built high up in a cirque above the Klamm.    The one called Rosina was probably the best of the three, but they all had cool sections including some nice cable bridges :)




I finally got my race wing (thanks Ozone!), and took it for a short flight off the hill behind our campsite.  Just making sure everything feels right before I launch in the race.  Final harness adjustments will be simple and I'll be ready to go on July 2 for the prologue!

Hey, if you want to follow a guy doing something rather insane, check out the Iron Cowboy doing 50 Ironman Triathlons in 50 States in 50 Days.   He's on Day 15 right now, and each day he spends between 13 and 15 hours Swimming, Biking and Running.  That doesn't leave much time for sleep when you consider his support crew then has to get him to the next STATE by the next day in order to do another Ironman.


His final race, and I hope he makes it through this crazy challenge, is in Salt Lake City on July 25.  Perhaps if I make it through my own race here in Europe, I'll be home in time to cheer him on at the conclusion of the 50-50-50!    Here's his race schedule and map:   50-50-50 Map

June 23, 2015

Follow the Red Bull X-Alps 2015 Live via Automatic Updates!

Want to know how your athlete is doing and get updates to your Facebook, email or Twitter during the race?  

Click on the link below, and add your social media information to get updates as they happen!  (Don't worry, you can unsubscribe at any time).   The race starts in less than two weeks!  

If you want updates on your phone then text FOLLOW @redbullxalps to the number 40404.   Warning, though...if you live in the States you might want to follow that up by selecting the Do Not Disturb button so you aren't woken up in the middle of the night when we start racing each morning!  

June 19, 2015

Berchtesgaden Klettersteig

We keep saying: too many cool climbs, too little time.   But it's good race training, and the flying weather continues to be bad, so we sneak them in here and there.  Like yesterday, when there was a narrow gap between a decent morning and what would turn into a really rainy afternoon.   We picked a short-ish route (meaning 4-5 hours instead of 11-12) and managed to get up and down with nice views without too many raindrops.

Just past the town of Berchtesgaden (famous for being Hitler's favorite vacation place) we parked at the end of the Konigsee.  The river along the drive up had been the clearest green water we've seen so far, and obviously the clarity of the Konigsee was the reason.


The hike up passed a bobsled/luge track, which was a large concrete track running all the way down to the lake, making huge curves and turns as it dropped steeply down the mountain.   A very contrived sport it seemed to us, especially in the middle of summer when the rough concrete sits there waiting for the ice of winter.

The klettersteig had a couple of options at the beginning before it all came together again, from easy to hard to extra hard.  We went with just "hard" and actually didn't find it all that difficult although it did require a lot of upper body strength as usual.

The route was pretty nice, with good trails before and after the cabled sections.  The cables did go on a bit along grassy slopes in the middle, taking us up and over a couple of knobs along a ridge.  The final section (it was pretty new and not in our guidebook) was a super hard option, which we took, and enjoyed immensely.   And finally at the top, we did get that view of the lake which had been touted in the guidebook.  Luckily the weather was still holding then so we could see around us!

Looking down at Konigsee (Eagles Nest far left mountaintop)

I'm pretty sure the sign said no jumping but I couldn't help it
The start of the bobsled track 

Konigsee dam

June 16, 2015

Salzburg 50k

Mist on the Salzach river
My last big workout before the Red Bull X-Alps starts on July 5.   A 50k with my pack seemed appropriate, plus an early morning start to keep ahead of the hot weather.   Since I had already flown this section of the race, walking it was the next challenge.   I decided that walking up and over the hills wouldn't be the best line, so out to the valley and along a trail next to the river.  It was long and straight and I think I gained 8 meters of elevation in about 10 miles to start the walk.

I did find a really cool place to soak my feet in the first half of the walk, a tiny little slot canyon with crystal clear water.  A few brave souls were canonballing themselves into a rather deep section of the narrows, but with the frigid water I limited my immersion to just my feet.

I contemplated flying off a nearby peak but couldn't reach it before the weather turned windy and rainy.  Same thing for the Via Ferrata near the Vorderer Gosausee behind the Dachstein.  Jim picked me up halfway through my walk and we aimed for a fun section of climbing in the middle of the day....but it started to rain just as my hand touched the first cable.  So I did the second half of the walk in some heavy rain showers.

10 hours and 52k later I reached the campground for the night.   By then it was almost hot again and windy.

I think we are in for a few days of rainy weather now but I'm feeling confident about the route.  I'm ready for the race to start!

A Common European Adder in the rocks near the via ferrata!
Many man-made waterfalls near Gosau
3 burros watch me pass by
A cold water soak near the end of the day
View in front of me...
....view behind me