An additional course, more participants, and changes to the ultra marathon course – UTFS is heading into its second year.
“The first year of UTFS had everything we could have dreamed of for our debut event“, recalled Johannes Hendel. The 5-member organizational team said they don’t want to change that. The 2nd UTFS promises new features and enhancements. Even after creating this event practically from scratch, there’s always room for improvement for next year.
The ultra marathon with be complimented by a second event, the Speedtrail
In 2022, there were already requests for a second, shorter course. After several course inspections and in conjunction with the UTFS Community Runs, we discovered two attractive trails along the eastern and western parts of the river which totaled under 42km. In order to make the 33km long Speedtrail even more enticing, the newly-laid course leads onto the trail after only the first few hundred meters – different to the Ultra Trail – which takes the runners to the first long and steep ascent.
“The ultra marathon goes along flat terrain for the first few kilometers, from the market square into the Wiesent Valley and along the Wiesent River“, explains course director Werner Schlund. What was desired for the Ultra Trail, disturbed Schlund in the planning for the shorter distance. “If you add the first 3 flat kilometers to the last flat kilometers leading into the market square, you get almost 6 kilometers.” That was too much and a change to the western part of the course became necessary. The new course nows leads onto a demanding trail after just 500 meters.
It’s easy to find a name, Speeltrail. “To call the 33km long trail with almost 1,400m of elevation gain a ‘Speedtrail’ is a bit provocative, of course“, jokes Stefan Meyer, the namer of the course. But behind the name hides a lot of strategy. Not every ambitious trail runner is interested in an ultra marathon distance, but this group might include a lot of otherwise strong runners. “It’s possible that we could see race times under 150 minutes“, states Meyer. “The name says it all and the Speedtrail will surely live up to it.”
Suited for beginners
Don’t be frightened by the name. A conscious decision was made to keep the distance under 42km in order to offer beginners and amateurs the possibility to participate in a trail sport in the Franconian highlands. Founding member Matthias Barsch warns not to make it a drinking wager: “Without the required conditioning there is a higher risk of dropping out of the race or even injury The course sees a lot of foot-traffic and there are some parts that are technically difficult.”
A runner should have completed a training run of 2 to 3 continuous hours and have some experience running on woodland trails. Then nothing should stand in the way of a trail adventure in the Franconian highlands, reckons Barsch.
33km / 1,380m elevation gain
The race starts and ends in the market square in downtown Ebermannstadt. It’s equally perfect for those new to trail running and those seeking fast race times. This little brother to the Ultra Trail should not be underestimated, though. There are still 1,380 meters of elevation gain and some very technical parts to overcome.
Big worries about participant cap
The debut event showed that there was a large desire and confirmed that a high demand existed within the trail running scene. In the end, the event was sold out in the pre-sale phase after just seven days.
There is great concern that registration could fill up quickly again. “We receive weekly messages asking when registration starts and if participation going to be so limited again“, tells Hendel. “According with the scale of the event, in addition to the second event, we will raise the cap on the number of runners.“. When registration begins on October 3rd, there will be a cap of 500 runners – 300 for the Ultratrail and 200 for the Speedtrail. But you shouldn’t wait too long: “We’re already getting a sense that the scene is anxiously anticipating the next UTFS“, says Hendel.
Prioritizing Animal and Nature Conservation
UTFS will have to give up one of its highlights for the future. As of 2023, it will no longer be allowed to run through the 65m long Oswald Cave. Instead the course will lead over the cave along a trail which is technically more difficult. The reason is the cave is home to dozens of bats. Though they tend to spend the winter in the many deeper, secondary nooks and crannies of the cave and not in the larger, main cavern, they would still be disturbed if on April 22, 2023 500 athletes ran through their cave.It hurts to remove this absolute highlight from the course“, admits Florian Troeger. “We’ve given it a lot of thought and consulted a local bat expert.” Since he could not fully support the idea, we decided to remove this feature, despite the go-ahead from the Animal and Nature Conservation Authority. “It’s not just talk – the conservation of animals and nature is very important to us. Therefore, we must act with honesty and integrity, and remove the Oswald Cave.“, relates Troeger.
Changes to the Ultratrail
The Ultratrail is affected by the protection of the cave as well. The loss should not detract from the overall picture. “We’re spoiled,” smiles Werner Schlund, who, as course director, knows every corner of the Franconian highlands. He continues, “If one highlight is removed, then we add another in its place.“. That’s why the Ultratrail is becoming one kilometer longer. Within the 66km there will be a longer section through the county of Bayreuth so as to include not only Rabeneck Castle, but also Rabenstein Castle and the Ludwigs Cave. The total elevation gain remains almost unchanged. At 2,760m, it lies slightly above the amount from 2022.
66km / 2,760 m of elevation gain
Since UTFS was founded as an ultramarathon trail race, this distance will remain our principal distance. We again send you through the beautiful Franconian highlands, with some minor changes to the course from 2022. There are castles, caves, and seemingly endless ups and downs. We ask you to lay it all out there. It might even take your breath away.
Onward to the 2nd annual UTFS event on April 22, 2023
The organizational team feels well-prepared and at ease with the new course on offer. They are confident that 2023 will bring more unforgettable trail-running moments.
Registration begins on October 3, 2022. Whoever wants to receive a reminder about registration, as well as any insider news, we recommend signing up for the Newsletter.