Mark Davies from North Wales Road Runners was part of a successful two-man team that won the final stage of the gruelling Transalpine Trail 8-Day Trail Run to finish as the first British (and Welsh) team overall.
Mark, and his running partner Ken Sutor, who were running under the banner of ‘The Dragon Slayers,’ finished 12th overall, but deservedly won the prestigious 2nd MV40 category prize.
The Transalpine Trail Run (TAR) is already established as one of the most difficult and dangerous, yet most spectacular trail run events anywhere in the world, and traverses the Alps by way of four different countries in a series of exhilarating trails covering eight separate and challenging days.
The race started on August 31 and continued until last Saturday, September 7. It began on the difficult Western route of the TAR in Oberstdorf, Germany, where more than 250 teams representing about 40 nations, competed in one of the last of the great global adventures.
The overall route tackled the Alps on foot, from Germany, via Austria, Switzerland, and finally into Italy; and on the final day, athletes eventually crossed over the finish line in Sulden, Italy.
Mark kept his club colleagues updated by daily messages, and by confirmation of their performances via Strava. They reached the podium on every single day, and eventually celebrated two remarkable age category stage wins, and six second-placed victories.
From the finishing line in Sulden, Italy, Mark admitted: “Dragon Slayers had a strong last day, winning first place in the Masters Men category for Stage 8, and were 2nd MV40 cat winners overall.
“We topped-off eight stages over eight days, and were 12th overall. We were the first British team and ran a total of 175 miles and 54,500 ft.
“I am super happy and we are both looking forward to tonight’s celebrations.”
RESULTS AND COMMENTS FROM MARK’S ONLINE DIARY POSTINGS
1st Stage: Oberstdorf/D – Lech am Arlberg/A. (Germany to Austria).
On Day 1: 31/8/19: A great start to their campaign. Mark and Ken finished the first day 9th overall and were 2nd MV40 athletes, and made their first appearance of many on the grand podium. They completed an amazing distance of 39.49 kms with an elevation of 2330m, and in a time of 5 hrs 17 mins. Mark later said: “Shocked and delighted to finish on the podium and inside the top-10 teams overall.”
2nd Stage: 1/9/19: Lech am Arlberg/A – St. Anton am Arlberg/A. (Austria).
At the start of Day 2: Mark claimed: “Early days, fingers crossed. Hope team ‘Dragon Slayers’ have not peaked too soon?” They didn’t have to worry though, and were later delighted to celebrate another quick podium return as 10th overall and 2nd MV40 age category winners. Mark added: “Two days into TAR and hanging onto 2nd place.” This time the pair covered a further 28.76 kms, with an elevation of 1814m, and in a time of 3 hrs 42 mins for another 2nd MV40 win.
3rd Stage: St. Anton am Arlberg/A – Landeck/A. (Austria).
Day 3: 2/9/19: Mark posted an early morning photograph of himself just before starting out, with a caption saying – ‘0630, seems a good enough reason to be angry.’ A few hours later however, he announced, “Sorry to bore you all, but we managed second again today extending the lead on 3rd place team with Ken Sutor. The duo ran 42.28 kms with an elevation of 2178m in a time of 3 hrs 42 mins.
4th Stage: Landeck/A – Samnaun/CH. (Austria to Switzerland).
Day 4. 3/9/19: Mark sent a message declaring: “The longest day for the Alpine teams covering 29.5 miles.” At the end of another hard day on the tough mountain trails, he added: “Painful today, Descents hurt like hell. Uphill only stage tomorrow. Built up a 56-minute lead over 3rd place.” Their results included running 45.61 kms over 2927m of climb, in a time of 5 hrs 48 mins.
5th Stage: Bergsprint Samnaun. (Switzerland).
Day 5. 4/9/19: Uphill only stage. This turned out to be Mark and Ken’s most successful day and on returning to base, Mark confirmed: “Well, we did it! Five days in and we have finally won a MV40 stage. They ran 7.36 kms with an elevation gain of 815m in 56 mins 20 secs.
6th Stage: Samnaun/CH – Scuol/CH. (Switzerland).
Day 6. 5/9/19: Another difficult day. Mark confirmed: “Back in 2nd place again today but another good lead on 3rd team. Zeblasbahn climb – 7th overall in 3.02. Two stages left.” Their results included a run of 40.71 kms, a 2286m of climb, over 4 hrs 51 mins.
7th Stage: Scuol/CH – Prad am Stiffserjoch/I. (Switzerland to Austria).
Day 7. 6/9/19: The team again finished in 2nd place but Mark’s messages explained how the races were really taking their toll. He explained: “2nd MV40 again. Running through pain today. Bits are starting to break. Just one stage to go!” They ran 45.40m, with 1822m of climb and finished in a time of 4 hrs 45 mins.
8th Stage: Prad am Stilfserjoch/I – Sulden am Ortler/I. (Italy).
Day 8: 7/9/19: The final day, and the pair had to really grit their teeth to complete the task. At the end of their last day of competition, Mark later said: “Topped off a cracking 8-days with a cat MV40 win. Very happy right now. 2nd MV40 team, and 12th overall and the first British team to finish.”
Their final results sheet confirmed their amazing campaign: Ran 25.61 kms, over 2271m, in a time of 3 hrs 33 mins.