Step by step, I filled out the registration form without thinking about the consequences. I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking at that moment, but I held on to my belief that there are no coincidences and that you should recognize and accept signs.
I first became aware of the Hochkönigman, a race here in Austria, when I did my first trail run in Innsbruck a few years ago. As we drove through Maria Alm on the way there, a friend showed me the start area of the Hochkönigman and told me about the stunning, highly technical, mostly alpine trails and the remarkable community that still surrounds this event. From that moment on, this race was a myth that hovered over me and wouldn’t let go. However, if you read my last post here, you know that the last few years have been a challenge for me, where the desire to run faded and became a memory in my subconscious.
But as I said, I don’t believe in coincidences, and it all started with the opportunity to process my thoughts and my past in my last Trail Sisters article. This gave me new confidence and a strong push in the right direction. Shortly thereafter, I won tickets to Austria’s largest alpine trade show in Innsbruck, where the memories of the Hochkönig came flooding back as I met the organizer of the race. Again, I was impressed by the fascinating beauty of the trails and the vague memory and desire to run this race awoke from its deep slumber.
Just two days after the fair, I “stumbled” across an Instagram post advertising a competition for the Fanta 5 team at the Hochkönigman with tempting prizes such as a starting place, a personal training plan, two trail running camps, performance diagnostics and several days of filming. Without hesitating, I sent in my application. Later, however, when I looked at the applicants from previous years, I began to doubt myself and my abilities. Plagued by these self-doubts, I confided in my husband a few days later. In his usual reassuring way, he assured me that everything would be fine and that things always work out the way they are supposed to. And indeed! That same evening, I received confirmation that I had made it to the second round and had been shortlisted.
However, the second phase of the competition was the bigger challenge for me. It was all about getting as many votes as possible, because only the top 5 out of 16 would make it onto the team. For someone like me, who doesn’t like to ask for help and likes to do things on my own, this was definitely the most difficult part of the competition.
However, driven by ambition and a desire to win, I spent hours in the beginning sending WhatsApp messages to my friends and family, stopping each time to ask myself if I should bother them with something so trivial.
But this is where the magic began.
One by one, they responded and not only supported me with their votes, but also offered their help. After the first interim result, where I ended up in 4th place out of 16, I also started to ask for help and votes on social media several times a day. Whether through posts or stories, I tried to get as much attention as possible. However, personal messages proved to be more effective, as the second and third interim results showed when I dropped to fifth and then sixth place.
With a spot on the team within my grasp, I started sending personal messages again, this time via Facebook and Instagram. The challenge? I was writing to people I had either never met or had lost touch with. So, I was nervous and tense. But the response was overwhelming! I received replies with promises of their votes, shares on personal accounts, and forwarding the link to vote to friends and family.
In that moment, I realized that it was no longer just about winning, but about the deep connection within the trail running community. I realized that I was about to dive back into that indescribable feeling of belonging – the feeling of being exactly where I should be.
That realization became a defining moment. It transcended the outcome of the race and confirmed to me that the challenges I had faced over the past few months were part of something bigger.
Although I lost by a narrow margin, the initial disappointment turned into a deep sense of triumph. I felt like a winner, not because of a spot on the team, but because I had reclaimed my place in the trail running community.
Looking back on the past few weeks, the camaraderie among trail runners and the overwhelming support from friends and even strangers paint a vivid picture. Each step in the search for votes has been an incredible experience that has contributed to my personal growth.
And as I look to the future, my ambitions in the trail running community go far beyond individual victories. I dream of making a difference, sharing experiences, and inspiring others along the way. The trail running community is not just a collection of individuals, but a collective spirit that propels each member forward.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who supported me in this contest. The friends who voted, the acquaintances who shared the contest link, the trail running community that welcomed me with open arms – your contributions were more than just votes, they were an affirmation of the strength of our shared bond.
Trail runners are a very special community, bound together by shared experiences, mutual support, and an unwavering belief that every step forward is a victory.