Fearless (or reckless) runners will launch themselves down near-vertical gradients in a race on the world’s most notorious ski slope.
Returning for a second year, the inov-8 Descent Race on the Hahnenkamm mountain in Kitzbuhel, Austria, is being staged on Saturday October 5th – and entries remain open here.
Revered amongst downhill skiers on the world cup circuit, the Hahnenkamm, which steepens to an insane gradient of 80%, will provide runners with the ultimate opportunity to test their bravery.
inov-8’s Michael Price said: “It’s got to be one of the most innovative and, although relatively short in distance, toughest sporting events in the world.
“Last year saw hundreds of spectators line the legendary slope and watch on as runners got to grips with the demanding 350m long slalom-style course. This year we’re expecting even bigger crowds and even faster speeds!”
Starting from the iconic ski gate at the top of the mountain, runners will propel themselves down the slope at 30-second intervals. Between them and the finish line below will be a series of ski flags which they must weave round.
Each runner will get two attempts at the course, with their times added together to decide the final results. The male and female winner will each receive €300.
The times to beat and advice for the brave starters
Last year’s victors were Daniel Hauser and Lisa Kroll, who also hold the course records at 54.65 secs and 1:22.18secs respectively.
inov8 stalwart Lee Procter, pictured at the top hurtling down the Hahnenkamm, has flown down more hillsides than you’ve had hot dinners. “As difficult as it sounds look ahead at the slope ahead, not at your feet. You need to read the ground ahead, input it quickly and be agile enough to change your stride or foot placement.”
Procter continues ” Ideally look 10-15 metres ahead. Like a snooker player who is always thinking three shots ahead, you need to do the same when running down The inov-8 Descent – think ahead of you not in the moment”. Maybe this would be a good event for keen runner Ronnie O’Sullivan?
Fast Running Coach Robbie Britton recommends “getting plenty of specific practice in, but with adequate recovery between as the impact on your muscles can be huge. It’s the braking you want to avoid, so going a little bit slower, but without having to brake often, may get you down the hill a bit quicker… and maybe in one piece.”
Beware the Mausefalle
Insight from the race itself, Procter remembers “the ‘Mausefalle’ (mousetrap) section, where the gradient is 80% and the terrain is really rough having been rutted by cattle! Make sure you recce in advance so you are brave enough to launch into it in the race.
Hang right to avoid the really rutted section and then swing in towards the ski flag st the bottom of the ‘mousetrap’, grabbing it and using it to help you propel round the corner.”
inov8 athlete Paul Tierney laughs and is a little more to the point. “Just f**king run down a lot of hills.” Although the two-times Tor des Geants finisher and Wainwrights record holder (that’s a lot of hills) does expand on that sage advice.
“I’d use something like the Mudclaw G260. They’re hands down the best shoe I have ever used for technical, fast descending” which the big Irishman has done an awful lot of. “Relaxing and letting gravity help you down the hill is important. Having confidence that your shoes will keep you on your feet in the toughest conditions, like the Descent, is something reserved for shoes like the Mudclaw.”
If you’re filled with confidence from reading this expert advice then there is still time to enter The Descent here.