„Alemán , Alemán!“

It is not the first time of the day someone yells my nationality. I turn around to have a check who it is this time. All I can see is a huge smile. This smile belongs to the other “alemán” in the race – Florian Reichert.

I have to grin myself as I turn around back to the picturesque and graceful cathedral of Zegama. The day has been lengthy. My day was significantly longer then Flo’s. As we meet the two of us are pretty much delighted. Very delighted and tired. All the sensations and impressions of the day need to be reviewed.

We sit down on the next available stairs in front of the church. The sun does it’s best to warm us up. That day was something unique. Florian is all hyped after his first skyrace. He asks me about my race. I give him a short answer. There was a lot more happening during his day I recon.

“It was so cool when he cheered me on!” Florian meets legend Marco DeGasperi at the registration who later had to drop out of the race.  

Coming from a fast road background and having won the ECCO Indoor Trail race in Germany not only once, his expectations for the race were high. But being a down to earth guy he also knew that this trip was meant to be a lesson for him. A pretty harsh first lesson for the devoted 31-year old Spanish and Sport teacher from Göttingen, Germany. Would he begin the school year for his pupils with the final exam in the first week? I highly doubt it.

After running pretty fast on the road, Florian felt the need for new challenges and impulses. He knew that he needs to invest a lot more into training to run an even faster marathon then he already has. And then? Then he would still be to far away from the elite ranks in the marathon. New challenges came around faster then he expected.

Los alemanes en Zegama – Señor Reichert and the author.

Arc’teryx offered him a deal and laid out the season for him. Skyrunning is the big goal.

Still thrilled about the chances to stack up his Inov-8 deal with the Canadian mountain powerhouse Arc’teryx he stays humble, and even more importantly – realistic. Knowing his capability pretty well he also knows that running a race like Zegama is a tough start to a new project.

“Running up the hill with the front dudes was fun.” he conveys. “Kilian and Marco were gone. I just saw them flying away early on. I tried to stay calm in the first big group.” He did exactly what he told me the day before. Watching and observing how the experienced guys unfold a race like this.

“Trailflow” likes to party all the time! (Picture: SalernoPhoto.com)

“Oh dear,” Florian shakes his head in disbelieve “could you believe those crowds?” he asks me. “That was just crazy. I tried to cheer with them. Then they got louder and louder,” His smile gets even brighter “that was just unreal. Very special!”

Running up the front he loved the uphill sections. Going up the first climbs Florian is with the front of the race. On the first major downhill it seems that he has to go out of his comfort zone. “Man, this downhill from the Aixturi. The guys were moving down that ramp so fast. I could not believe it”. That is also Skyrunning. Flying down those steep mountains. He fights, as the experienced gang seems to easily surf down between the rocks and mud he slip and slides. Knowing that you need to take a good few risks to stay with the front of the race he shakes his head and laughs out loud.

“I could see AJ falling a good bit in front of me”. AJ Claitz from Capetown, South-Africa took a severe dive in the downhill that eventually took him out of the race. When Florian passed him and saw his knee he starts thinking. “When I saw that huge hole in the knee something in my heads started to click. That was not good”. Now he jokes as he tells me the story. AJ’s pain was Florian’s footbrake. Comitted to running the rest of the European Skyrunning races he did not want to take any major risks.

Later during the race he finds his rhythm pretty easy. On the uphill’s he enjoys to run, walk and sometimes climb the technical parts. “Now I know what they mean when they talk about `technical running` you essentially can not run!” Amusement all the way. The two of us share story’s about the crazy rocks sections were both of us had to glide down on our asses, trying to hold rocks not to slide and so on.

“Sometimes, when one of this local guys was flying by on the downhill’s I just wanted to be in a road race with him and chase him down.” He pranks at me. He knows that this style of running is special. Way different but way more exiting.

The crowds get mad for Flo shortly before the Aizkorri Refugio (Picture: SalernoPhoto.com)

As we joke on several people stop by. We have a chat with Luis Hernando who came second. Michel Lanne walks by and gives us a thumbs-up. It is all positive and open. Exactly that is what Florian enjoys and motivates. “Stuff like this would never happen on the road or on the track.” He tells me. “Everyone shares a smiles, asks you about the race and how you like it. It is great to meet so many honest and friendly people with this sport.” Florian fits wright into the scene as he has time for each and everyone.

Florian’s optimistic and authentic approach to competing and more notably life in general fits into these scene so well. He knows precisely what he can do and what he can not. All of that makes him such a great adding to the skyrunning circus.

We are talking on. We talk about the basque country. We talk about the mountains. We talk about running and we talk about life. The sun gets stronger and stronger and helps our souls to recover.

A great day saw a great debut by a great guy.


Florian’s 2013 Race Schedule

Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42k, Zegama – May 26
Mont-Blanc Marathon – 42k, Chamonix – June 30
Matterhorn Ultraks – 46k, Zermatt – August 24
Skyrunning Xtreme – 23k, Limone sul Garda – October 13

KM Vertical, Chamonix – June 28
Xtreme Vertical Kilometer®, Limone sul Garda – October 11

2013 European Skyrunning Championships
Dolomites Vertical Kilometer, Canazei, Trento, July 19
Dolomites Sky race Canazei, Trento, July 21