MarathonTalk Run Camp Austria 2017
The aim of this run camp was to explore the location, test some running routes and the Villa, to see how they could work for future running MarathonTalk camps.
Lots to say about this camp, so I’ve split it into sections to give you the option to skip to the bits you’re most interested in.
Our first run was soon after arriving at the Villa, with a loop of the local lake (a flat 2.5km per loop). Apart from being incredibly beautiful, it was a great way to get to know each other, find our bearings and shake off the flight.
We even managed a swim and a test of the rope swing – it worked!
This lake loop was a good option for those who wanted to do second runs throughout the week.
There’s something very satisfying doing an amazing run starting and finishing from the door. This is what we did for the ‘Annaberg loop’ 13 mile run.
The run went along small streams, up and down hilly trails, through woods, and amazing views the whole way.
The main stops were at a water fountain, coffee and ice cream in Annaberg, and a plunge in the lake when we were nearly back at the Villa.
A beautiful trail run with a fair amount of uphill. Ended at a chairlift which some people took to the top, and some ran/ walked up.
Amazing views and time for coffee/ beer at the top, before chairlift or run down to Mariazell.
About 6.5 miles to the lift; 1.5 miles to the top; 2 miles down. Here’s our route.
Mariazell was very pretty, had great ice cream and an amazing cathedral, attracting lots of pilgrims and associated souvenirs. Good chance to pick up a water bottle with a pic of Mary on, if you’ve left yours behind…
The one coached session of the week. We ran about 1.5 miles from the Villa to do warmups together. Martin led us through how to do strides and we had time to do a few of our own warm-up techniques if we wanted.
The session was pretty hard:
3 x 2 mins (with 2 minute recoveries between each)
10 mins threshold (6 minute recovery)
3 x 2 mins (with 2 minute recoveries between each)
I wasn’t sure I’d make the whole session as it sounded really hard. Martin was helpful on mental tips to keep pushing, and we all made it. Although that last set really was painful trying to make it as good as the first.
We finished off with coffee at the small local cafe which somehow drew in a huge crowd from who-knows-where from the rural surroundings, all eating huge bits of cake (on which, more later…).
How many runs have you started by taking a chair lift? Apart from being fantastic fun, it gives you a good view of the landscape you’ll be running in.
People chose whether to take the lift all the way up, or run/walk up the final section.
Although the views every day were amazing, these were probably the best and there was quite a lot of posing for photos, from our group, to us in action individually, to some MarathonTalk kit around the world photos.
A 10km run starting and ending at the Villa. It was up to us whether to run this socially or go hard. I decided to push myself, but there was quite a big hill in the middle which slowed me down rather a lot!
Running as a Group and Pacing
Even in a small group, there will be a range of running experience, speeds and wants. Martin was adept at the tricky skill of making sure everyone was happy, involved and doing what they wanted. He briefed us the night before each run, as well as before and during the runs. He did an excellent job of making sure any questions and concerns were answered.
We ran as a group. Where it made sense, we split into two groups. Martin taking one, Rob the other. Usually the group ahead would wait at key turn points for the other group.
Generally we stopped a lot, as we were all keen to catch our breath and take in the fantastic views. We even looked like a group in our shirts I’d designed for the week. Thanks to the Campers for modelling them fit to go in a running magazine, and Dan at Xempo for printing them.
The Villa and Food
Villa Walster is beautiful with lots of history. It’s in a remote location near a lake (Hubertsee) and surrounded by woodland. They’ve done a great job of updating an original building with mod cons so that the rooms are really comfortable.
There were lots of communal areas from terraces to inside sitting rooms where you could sit and relax. We spent a lot of time on the terrace looking at the lake, and inside on the comfy sofas after the evening meal.
The food was good and we got to try local fish and deer (there were always vegetarian options). I liked that you could help yourself to cake and Milka alongside a hot drink throughout the day.
What We Did When We Weren’t Running
Amazingly, even the short runs took up a lot of the day. We didn’t set off til 10am earliest, and just being in a group takes time to stop, get everyone together, take photos etc. Then there were coffee stops. It didn’t feel long, and was very natural. So we were often eating around 2/3pm, then having showers and/or a swim.
We were lucky to have Karila on the trip who’s studying physiotherapy, and so most of us managed to have a massage with her.
There were lots of places to hang out at the Villa and we would read / chat, have a drink. Some people would go for a second run around the lake. Then it was time for the evening meal. Rob cooked us a BBQ one night, and we also went out for a meal in Marizell. A huge highlight was the running-themed music quiz. It must have been a marathon effort for Dave to set up, and was hilarious fun.
So time passed very quickly and easily, there were no empty patches. In fact, there was so much going on, that I somehow didn’t stretch! Very silly, but I was always keen to join in the next thing!
The villa minibus picked us up/ dropped us off from the airport, or at start/ ed of runs that weren’t at the Villa. The villa was around 2 hours from Vienna airport.
Martin provided us with the Villa phone numbers and info. The group had maps and we had pictures of the routes on our phones. We also all downloaded the What3Words app so we could share our location if we got lost.
Kit/ What To Take
I just took one pair of trail shoes which was fine. The loop around the lake is all on road, so if you wanted to run that fast you could take some road shoes but 95% of the running is on trail.
I was really pleased I took my running hydration backpack. You probably have a good personal idea how much you need to eat and drink. I was amazed some people were surviving without, while I had litres of water.
I got lots of use out of my swimming things to cool off in the lakes, although we went in in running kit too. Towels are provided.
Affectionately known to us as #MTAUT17, you can also check out this hashtag on social media for more pics (and thanks to the Campers for sharing, so that I could include some of theirs here). Everything about the trip was so fun, with no hiccups. We all gave feedback so that future trips run even better and smoother. If you ask any of us, we’d all say we had a brilliant week and would happily go back tomorrow.
Have you ever been on a running camp?
What makes a good running camp for you?