FasterStrongerStader_c_Stader TRailer
26 April 2024
Post originally written in: Deutsch Information An automatic machine translation. Super fast and almost perfect.

What do you do when the highest elevation near your home town is only around 150 meters? That's right, compete as one of the largest teams at the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival. The Stader Trailers show how to conquer the mountain with a lot of bite and a bit of a wink.

I have to confess: So far, my own trail running experience amounts to panting up the serpentines under the Rauschbrunnen and covering a few over-motivated kilometers in the Sillschlucht gorge. By Stade standards, however, I'm not doing too badly in training when it comes to suffering uphill. After all, some of the members have already dared to tackle the 25-kilometre distance at the IATF, the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival, without a single meter of altitude in their legs. How can that be? Stade is located in Lower Saxony, not far from Hamburg, a full twelve meters above sea level. Vertical challenges are offered at best by the nearby Harburg mountains with an altitude of 150 meters or the Schwarze Berg, 35 meters high. From a Tyrolean perspective, this is the epitome of flatland. However, the Stader Trailers, one of the largest teams to take part in the IATF every year, come from precisely this city. Moritz Sierwald and Jakob Schomacker were members from the very beginning and they give me a little insight into the unusual approach of the Stader Trailers.

Birth with complications

First of all, the question arises as to how a pack of North Germans came up with trail running in general and a festival in the middle of the Alps in particular. According to Jakob, it all started with the right mentality: "From a self-critical point of view, Stader Trailers have a tendency to overestimate their athletic abilities. This meant that after a while, road running was too boring for us and we had to sacrifice altitude." The connection to Innsbruck was first established by Moritz, who moved to the city for his Master's degree and motivated the first IATF members in 2017.

From the very first hour, the Stade trailers showed a certain tendency towards a very special organizational talent, as Moritz recalls. Similar to this year, there was late snowfall, whereupon the route was adapted. "Of course, we didn't take part in the race briefing and didn't know about our luck. In the end, that meant an extra 300 meters in altitude, so 1,000 instead of 700 meters and 28 kilometers instead of 25." Imagine the sore muscles that followed: according to legend, stairs after the race became an obstacle not to be despised. Despite the maltreated muscles, the endorphins prevailed, word of the fun factor spread and more and more enthusiasts wanted to try their luck under the Stade flag.

Challenge accepted

If you want to become a Stader Trailer, you have to fulfill two conditions. Firstly, the team must run at least 25 kilometers together; in 2024, the team will also run 35 and 42 kilometers. Secondly, you should have been born or raised in Stade, or at least have a good relationship with one of the existing team members. If one of them can vouch for the fact that you have the necessary capacity for suffering and character compatibility, you can also join the team as a "non-native Stade resident".

Exertion, sore muscles, time commitment - why do you do something like trail running at all? "It combines sport and nature in a cool way with a competitive character that we always need," explains Jakob. According to Moritz, there is also the variety that trail running offers. Up and down, different terrains, so body and mind are challenged in a more varied way than with a comparatively monotonous run on flat terrain.

The makings of a trailer

A certain joy in competition - and in sporting suffering - can always be heard when you talk to the people of Stade. They emphasize that they still don't take the competition seriously, but they do enjoy competing with each other. Team spirit and fun are not neglected: numerous anecdotes are told about the inability to stick to training plans and the small and big hoppalas are celebrated.

Despite all the self-irony, it should be emphasized at this point that the group really has what it takes. After all, even those members who get particularly bogged down in their training routine more or less bravely complete distances that would give the average person calf cramps at the mere idea. The two trailers from Stade agree on one thing: if you want to run trails at a certain level, you have to be able to suffer. "For everyone, the limit is somewhere else. You have to be willing to push yourself to the limit," says Jakob.

He and Moritz reached this limit in 2023 when they qualified for the OCC in Chamonix, a 50-kilometre race with over 3,000 meters of elevation gain as part of the UTMB around Mont Blanc. The first reaction, as Moritz recounts it, was very much in Stader style: "When we had the space, we thought: Shit, now we really have to train."

Fluctuating learning curve

Even if some mistakes are traditionally made every year: The Stader Trailers are capable of learning. On his first run, there was still some room for improvement in terms of professionalism, as Moritz recalls: "On the first Innsbruck trail, I had no rucksack, a top that was far too thick and a half-liter plastic bottle of water, which was basically my hydration pack." Meanwhile, Jakob carried equipment of a different kind through the race: A soup ladle that he had forgotten in his hydration bladder after airing it out. In addition to not carrying any cooking utensils in your luggage and keeping adequate hydration, the Stader Poles recommend following the equipment of the pros and using gels (or alternatively crunchies) as an energy boost during the race for distances of over 30 kilometers.

Stade General Assembly

The Stade trailers take part in various competitions in different combinations, from Kitzbühel to the Karwendel March. However, they only show up in full team strength at the IATF, as Innsbruck has a few decisive advantages over other venues. Firstly, the fixed date, as Jakob explains: "It's the start of the trail running season, the first big serious event." The group is committed to this and the coordination effort remains manageable. The city is also easy to reach by train from Hamburg and not only offers plenty of affordable accommodation, but also a special atmosphere with the finish in front of the Landestheater in a scene full of ever-growing events.

When it is mentioned that the IATF has distances for various ability levels, I am motivated to try the 15 kilometers next year. Overconfidence is known to drive the Stader trailers, I wonder if they want to expand their team

If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'm off for a run.

Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival

If you want to cheer on the Stade trail runners and all the other brave souls who take on the challenge of the IATF or get a taste of racing yourself, the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival will take place this year from May 2 to 4.

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