Markus Kröll lays milestones. No route is too far for the extreme mountain runner. The 45-year-old top athlete grew up in the Ziller Valley in the renowned “ewigen Jagdgründen”, a paradise for mountaineers. In 1990, he became the first Austrian Junior World Champion in mountain running, and since then his ambition has grown and grown. Today, he is one of the best. The down-to-earth champion has come third in the World Cup Mountain Running Grand Prix five times, won countless national titles and completed the Berliner Höhenweg, with its 95 kilometres and almost 14,000 altitude metres, in just 23 hours and 45 minutes – and that’s just a snapshot of his achievements. So how does it feel to run these amazing distances in such a short time? “First of all, you feel an inner peace and sense of satisfaction”, he explains.
Markus Kröll wants to continue focussing on his sport for five more years. After that, whether he will devote all his time to his freelance work as a glider and conservator is doubtful. The 45-year-old needs to be on the move. “Sometimes I don’t feel like running, but this normally doesn’t last longer than two days and then I have to get active again.” He is motivated by a constant curiosity. He is a master of trying new things and setting himself new goals. “I would be really interested to find out how my body would react to really high altitudes such as 6000 or 7000 metres.” To realise his dreams, he trains every day. “Sometimes even twice a day. When I’m trying to build stamina, I will train for several hours a day”, he explains. During competition season he reduces the amount of training he does. He calls this his “active relaxation”. The concept of a complete break from sport is foreign to him. “I do stabilisation exercises and get massages, but it is very seldom that I completely rest. I would need to have an injury and, even then, it would be difficult.” In the past few years the 45-year-old has been dealing with some ruptured ligaments. He has also had a few broken bones. “But, up to now, everything has always mended well”, he jokes.
Training twice a day
In preparation for the running season, the top athlete often travels to Cape Town in January. While there he runs long runs: “40 kilometres in the morning and 30 kilometres in the afternoon.” Markus Kröll competes and wins. Not just in competitions, but also personally. His inquisitiveness always opens up new doors for him. “I am currently doing an instructor qualification in competition ski mountaineering. I’m really interested in learning new things.” Interestingly, Markus Kröll has never run a marathon. “Running around a city doesn’t interest me at all.” He prefers his terrain steep and stony. His motto: “certain things can’t be achieved in half a year,” so “be patient and have fun.”