The "Race across Germany" is an annual ultracycling bike race across Germany. At the beginning of June, the West-East variant of the Race across Germany starts in Aachen (West Germany) to Görlitz (East Germany) with a route length of 780 kilometers, 7800 meters in altitude and a time limit of 44 hours. A few weeks later at the beginning of July, the north-south variant of the Race across Germany starts in Flensburg (Northern Germany) to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Southern Germany) with a route length of 1100 kilometers, 7500 meters in altitude and a time limit of 60 hours. Both variants of the ultracycling race across Germany are held in different categories as an official event on a clearly defined route, with a set of rules and with official race organization.
The organizer of the Race across Germany is Dieter Göpfert, who describes himself as a "passionate organizer" and organizes the events with body and soul. The Race across Germany is gaining popularity in the ultracycling scene every year and the number of participants has been growing steadily for several years. The races are familiar, the focus is on the athletic performance of each individual and there is only a little supporting program around the race.
"The focus is fully on the Extreme cycling here."
In 1998 Dieter Göpfert drives the "Styrkeprøven", an established ultracycling event in Norway which runs non-stop from Trondheim to Oslo. On the way, the question arises as to why there isn't a similar event in Germany. A year later, Dieter Göpfert and five friends meet to cross Germany on a 1200 kilometer long route between Flensburg and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. From a support vehicle, the small group is navigated south almost exclusively via major federal roads and manages to cover the distance in less than 48 hours (time: 46 hours and 20 minutes).
"We chose Flensburg as the starting point because everyone in Germany knows Flensburg because of the 'Points in Flensburg' and Garmisch-Partenkirchen because the Olympic ski jump is located here"
In the year 2000, 18 people took part in the organized group trip and the number of participants continued to increase over the following years. First in 2014 the event is offered as an event with timekeeping for individual starters and held parallel to the guided group ride until 2016 - until 2017 there was a variant from Aachen to Görlitz as a guided group ride. Since 2017, the Race across Germany has no longer been a group ride and individual starters as well as teams compete for the best times on the track every year.
The course records for the Race across Germany from Aachen to Görlitz in the solo category are around 25 hours and for the Race across Germany from Flensburg to Garmisch-Partenkirchen around 36 hours (official times can be found on the event website: www.raceacrossgermany.de).This could be interesting:
The current route of the Race across Germany from Flensburg to Garmisch-Partenkirchen will be sent to the event participants before the race as a GPX track. The start is at the tip of the harbor in downtown Flensburg. Usually there is a lot of traffic and a lot of excitement around the small starting area, where the mayor of the city welcomes the participants. The route is not closed off for the traffic and the event usually takes place on public roads, as normal in ultracycling. After a few meters of altitude in Flensburg, the route starts with a slightly undulating profile on small to medium-sized roads through northern Germany. Depending on the wind, weather and athlete, the first 450 kilometers to the northern edge of the Harz Mountains fly by on the first day of the event, or the surprise is great that northern Germany is not completely flat in some places.
The first night often begins for the top athletes on the 1100-kilometer route at the foothills of the Harz low mountain range: Around 18 short climbs, winding roads and constant changes of direction and gradient slow down the pace. The route does not lead through the Harz, but through the hilly Harz foothills, the Eichsfeld, the Werra valley, past the Rhön and through the Franconian wine country. The climbs are neither particularly long nor particularly steep, but stretch down to about two-thirds of the race track into northern Bavaria: "Anyone who has reached the time station in Kitzingen will most likely also make it to Garmisch-Partenkirchen," says the race organizer Dieter Göpfert in a interview.
The last part of the route leads through Middle Franconia into the Donauries, crosses the Danau river near Donauwörth and passes near Augsburg in the direction of the Ammer-lake down to the edge of the Alps. The finish of the Race across Germany is on the ski jump of the large Olympic ski jump in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which is also the highest point of the route. The event takes place in the summer because the nights are short and the days are long here. The wind usually blows in large parts from the south to the west. You have to reckon with rain at the Race across Germany, but there have also been years when not a drop fell from the sky.
As the Race across Germany from Flensburg to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the current route will also be sent to the participants in the variant from Aachen to Görlitz as a GPX track before the race. The start of the 780-kilometer route is on the market square in Aachen, where the mayor of the city welcomes the participants. Here, too, the route is not closed off and the event takes place on public roads in public traffic, as is usually the case in ultracycling. The first part of the route leads along the foothills of the Eifel to Bonn. There is often a lot of traffic, many traffic lights and in large parts there is no contact with the support teams.
The route now leads up and down many small roads through the Westerwald and Siegerland. After this strenuous part of the route, the altitude profile of the route flattens out again and leads across Hessen to Bad Hersfeld, which forms the first time station. From here, many athletes head into the night and further east over a wavy profile. In the last part of the route behind the Wilsdruff time station, a few meters of altitude accumulate again. The finish line of the event is in Görlitz at the party area of the Europamarathon, which usually takes place there on the Sunday of the weekend of the event.
In the solo-supported variant of the Race across Germany, an athlete, at least one support vehicle and at least two supporting people form a team. The event is also offered in two categories for teams of 2 or 4: In the "Team Relay" only one athlete is ever on the bike, whereas in the "Team" all athletes of the team complete the entire route. In principle, the variants are all evaluated separately, with the solo-supported variant of the Race across Germany being the variant with the most participants.
In the solo-non-supported variant of the Race across Germany, the athletes start without a support team and have to buy food themselves at gas stations, supermarkets or bakeries along the way. There are no overnight accommodations and sometimes there is no possibility to shop over long distances. On the route of the Race across Germany from Flensburg to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, there is traditionally a bus stop in Bilderlahe, which is around 500 kilometers along the route, where local residents distribute small snacks and drinks. It is also possible to start as a team without support.
The rules of the events aim to ensure the safety of the participants while still allowing as much freedom as possible. For example, there is no requirement to sleep (most participants still sleep between 0 and 10 hours). The route must be covered on the specified GPS track and the participants will be randomly checked via GPS tracking and by the race organization. Among other things, the route can lead through unforeseeable construction sites: Here you have to decide at your own discretion whether you can drive through or whether a detour has to be taken. Slipstreaming is strictly forbidden, while various types of bicycles such as tandems, recumbents, faired recumbents or handbikes are allowed (but will be scored separately).
This video shows the preparation for the Race across Germany - Recordings from the race can be found from video minute 8:20.