For a German runner / trail-runner, Rennsteiglauf is a kind of “must know” and “must do”. For a foreigner runner, it is a surprise. So, when last year my friend Andre told me “why don´t we do the Rennsteiglauf together?”, my first reaction was “Renn…what?”.
I really had no clue what he was talking about…my bad! Therefore, I immediately started to get information about this traditional trail-running event. I googled the name, I found the website, and I faced the history of trail running in Germany (and Europe): 47th Edition, since 1973! Amazing! Therefore, I replied to Andre: “I am in! We do together the supermarathon.
The official website is: https://www.rennsteiglauf.de/
You can read a lot about the event on the web but it is difficult to explain the atmosphere before, during and after the event: thousands and thousands of people, runners and families. Everything began in the main square of Eisenach on the evening and night ahead of the day of the event. Happy and smiling people all around, in the stands looking “dancers” with traditional costumes, or outside in the square, in most of the cases with glass (or better glasses) of bier and a hot plate of a kind of gulasch with “Rotkohl and Kartoffelklößen”!
For me, everything began in the main square of Eisenach on the evening and night ahead of the day of the event. Happy and smiling people all around, in the stands looking “dancers” with traditional costumes, or outside in the square, in most of the cases with glass (or better glasses) of bier and a hot plate of a kind of gulasch with “Rotkohl and Kartoffelklößen”!
In the following morning at 5:30 a.m., while the digestion of the gulasch was still not completed, I found again myself in the main square of Eisenach, after a problematic night with only two real hours of sleep: booking a bed in a room with other eight trail-runners and forgetting the earplugs was not a great idea.
Eventually, few minutes before 6 a.m., all the trail-runners approached the start line. Someone with shorts, someone with long pants, someone with light vest, someone with wind-jacket (me), someone with 900 km old shoes (again me, since I forgot the other shoes at home!) and someone with special slipper! Even if Andre could not join me for last minute private reasons, I was not alone with more than 2000 starters around me!
The race began right at 6 a.m. and, after a short run in the town, we immediately went uphill in the direction of the Rennsteig, which runs along the ridge of the Thuringian Central uplands for about 160 km. The Rennsteiglauf Supermarathon follows exactly this track until the town of Schiemedefeld (after 73.9 km from the start). The track is free of technical difficulties, consisting of a large forest road, constantly uphill from Eisenach to Großer Beerberg after about 62 km. Only the last 12 km are exclusively downhill.
I felt great in the first 30 km where most of the elevation gain is concentrated. However, as soon as the uphill reduced, I started to feel without energies. Fact is that this feeling lasted quite a while until reaching the refreshment point at km 54. Here, the nice and welcoming volunteers pushed me to try to eat their famous “Haferschleim”, claiming to provide magical powers to the runners, like it happen for Asterix and the Gauls with their magic potion. I really have no idea of what I ate, but the results were fantastic! In few kilometer, my energies were back and I run fast the last part of the race, passing the finish line after 7 hours and 37 minutes.
The event concluded with a sort of Woodstock-festival with music, food, drinks and all the finishers from all different races, which were part of the event. Everything well organized!
Even if the race is completely different from the alpine trail-running events, for a trail runner, the event is for sure worth to be lived at least once in the life. Moreover, trust me: the Haferschleim is magical!
Useful info: next edition (48th) is already planned for May 16th!