Beginning of June I ran my first trail race in Austria: 23km at the Hochkönigman Trail Running Event. I really liked the experience, the scenery, the people!
Travel & Accessibility
The Hochkönigman Trail Running Race is located in the area of a mountain called Hochkönig, which means “High King” in English. It starts and ends in Maria Alm, which is just 5 km east of Saalfelden.
Saalfelden can be reached by train from Salzburg or Innsbruck, from where you can take a bus or taxi. Of course you can also get there by car.
The town of Maria Alm is not so big, so you will easily find the race area in front of Hotel Niederreiter.
The bib pick up and race briefing take place inside this hotel.
Depending on the distance if your race there are different start and pick up times. My race started at 10, so I could pick up my bib in the morning before.
In front of the hotel is a big tent with tables and benches, a bar and a small stall, where you can get last minute supplies for your mandatory race equipment.
This area is perfect to relax and wait before the race, and also after. And it is a great spot for friends and family to cheer you on as the start and finish line as well as the main stage is right in front of it.
Hochkönigman race course
There were three race distances available:
- 85km and around 5000m of elevation gain.
- 42km and around 3000m of elevation gain.
- 23km and around 1500m of elevation gain.
I ran the 23 km distance and therefore I can’t comment on the other ones. And also the route this year was new, and might again be different next year.
The course basically started straight up the mountain next to the hotel, first on a gravel road and then continued on a mountain trail. After the first incline we had our first water station on a high plateau on the mountain. The water station was just some canisters of water, and you had to bring your own cup to be able to use it.
Another incline and the first downhill followed. At the end of the downhill, at around the half way mark was the first proper aid station. For trail races this means food heaven. Lots of sweet, salty, or savory options to choose from. I especially liked the water melons and fruit puree.
After that we had to face the hardest part: a 3 km gravel road with 400 m elevation gain completely exposed to the sun.
And to make that even worse, it was around noon when I arrived there, making this part the hottest one of the course. Along this road was another water station, but unfortunately all the water was already gone by the time I got there. I was never so happy I had extra water supplies.
Once we reached the top of the road we had some time to breathe at a nice little waterfall. And because the water in the Alps is of impeccable quality, we use our cups to drink from this waterfall.
The climbing continued in the forest, where it was a bit cooler.
After we reached the highest point we started our final decline through the forest.
The final bit of the course goes right through the town of Maria Alm towards the festival area. When you run around the last corner the organizers announce your name so your friends can come and cheer you on when you cross the finish line.
Like my friends Anja and Maggie from You Are An Adventure Story did it for me.
The festival area is great when it comes to post-race ambiance. First you can jump into some small pools to cool and clean your feet. Then you can eat and drink as much as you want, sit down and have a chat with your friends. Or have an alcohol free beer.
Sightseeing besides the Hochkönigman Trail Running Event
There is not a lot to see in Maria Alm, except for the amazing mountain scenery. So if you are into outdoor sports, the area is perfect.
If you want to do proper sightseeing, Salzburg is just an hour drive away. (Hello Sound of Music Tour).You can find more sightseeing tips in my blogpost about the Mozart 100 race, that I did two weeks later.