You have seen them, bleary eyed and shivering, standing robotically early morning by the water’s edge. The triathlon widow/widower is patiently keeping their children’s and their own spirits high as they cheer Mum/Dad on. Generally, I discourage my family from coming to support my races as they start so early. The last thing these hard working people need is to wake at crack of silly o’clock on a Sunday to watch me rush around semi-naked. Triathlon is my lifestyle choice, not theirs. The satisfaction of proving to myself I can rise hours before other people, endure cold, heat and extreme fatigue proves to myself I am not a weak city girl; if I can do all this then it gives me confidence I can accomplish other difficult challenges. When you cross the start line and then the finish line you are an athlete, the time is irrelevant.
One of the rare exceptions to my no support rule was the ETU Age Group Championships in Kitzbühel in June just gone. Their support was much desired. My dad’s fluent command of German was invaluable for securing accommodation, taxis and finding my bike after it had been shipped from the UK in the labyrinth that was the race village. Mum was running around town with me to replace kit following delayed airline luggage and keeping it dry as I practised on the course in the rain. Tracing the swim course with me ahead of race day and rising at 5am to carry my kit to the start on the big morning, my brother saved me precious energy needed to perform at my best. Yes, I could have done all this myself as per usual, but no doubt my finish time would have suffered. My immense gratitude goes to them all for allowing me to be the centre of attention for four days, but of all places Kitzbühel was the loveliest place for this to happen.
Little wonder Kitzbühel hosted this event for the second time, the facilities for competitors and supporters alike are top notch. Accommodation and dining for all tastes and budgets is available, alongside entertainment for all ages and preferences. This is a great destination for family and group holidays whether training for sports events or not. My brother enjoyed Kitzbühel so much he hopes to return with friends to explore the area more. Here are some personal recommendations should you venture over out of the ski season:
One of the smartest hotels in town, the Tiefenbrunner also benefits from being in the town centre. To mitigate the hefty room price you can opt for half-board but that means you will have less of a chance to enjoy the many wonderful local eateries. I stayed here with my Dad and his partner because I wanted a gym to safely do a pre-race brick session. A small pool is on site ease stiff muscles. If you need to complete swim training, head to the Aquarena (see below). The ski room transforms into bike storage in Summer. Unusually, there are carefully thought out single rooms. The European breakfast buffet is extensive and wholesome, perfect set up for an active day (although not open when I needed breakfast at 5am on race morning!). The terrace café, bar and restaurant stretching onto the town’s high street offers sun, people watching and tasty food.
A wallet friendly B&B option. The fastidiously hospitable owner Bertha is intrinsic to the guest experience. Rooms are immaculate and breakfast generous – if you order boiled eggs, each morning you will be delighted by a different one Bertha’s handmade egg cosies. My brother, sister-in-law and Mum stayed here, as did one of my team buddies. Bertha was up at 5am on race morning to make the latter’s porridge!
Hotels and Camping are available right on the shore of the Schwarzsee lake but I cannot review them out of experience.
Aquarena – Here you can count laps, splash with the kids or you lounge in the spa.
Schwarzsee – Enjoy a more naturalistic swim in Schwarzsee’s warm water or cast your eye across it on to the surrounding mountains at the bank side café.
Kitzbüheler Horn – Taking the (pricy) gondola up to the mountain peak, a number of gentle ambles of various lengths are at your disposal. The ‘Alpenblumengarten’ (Alpine Wild Flower Garden) is particularly lovely. Pedaling from town to the peak is clearly the Sunday challenge for cyclists, some finding it less of an ordeal than others! The aerial view of ant-sized life below and breezy downhill return journey are just rewards for the toil.
Churches – Numerous scatter the confused streets of Kitzbühel. Enjoy a stroll and take your pick of which to enter. Curiously, a Catholic and Lutheran church sit as neighbours on the town’s steep banks leading to Schwarzsee, sharing a churchyard. The contrasting styles are bound to split opinion and worth a pause for contemplative thought.
Running & Cycling – Around town you will find boards displaying various country run routes for the casual jogger and veteran cross-country runner. Cyclists will also find inspiration for trips on these panels.
Shopping – Not the place for scooping up a bargain. Kitzbühel is for those with a liberal attitude to credit card usage. Top spec outdoor suppliers sit next to luxury stores such as Bogner.
Peak Performance is my favourite store in town for its blend of active and luxury lifestyle clothing. My mum surprised me with a pre-race treat from here, a quilted skirt-jumper golf outfit. I wear this at work and love how easy it is to change out of when training before or after the office. All garments are meticulously thought through for those with genuine active demands yet with no compromise on style.
Wirtshaus Steuerberg – You can ski into the wooden chocolate box worthy restaurant in Winter or climb up from town via foot or car in Summer. Either way, the views at this establishment let alone the food are worth the short journey. Waiting staff in Tracht warmly welcome you with smiles and hearty, gourmet Tyrolean fare. Don’t expect a quick bite though, laid back service means guests are compelled to sit back and take in the mountain air at a leisurely pace. A bizarre experience awaits you should you need the toilet during your visit. Descend the staircase past the wall of signed C-list Austrian celebrity diners, open the door to the toilets and the sound of…
Moro – Booking is essential at this tiny, unassuming Italian as there are few tables (take-away is an option). The pizzas are delectable and crafted with the utmost love by the single chef inhabiting the nook of a kitchen. The premier ingredients are a welcome post-race/ski/activity carb and protein load. Be ready to wait for your food though, with one culinary craftsman at work and one front of house Rome wasn’t built in a day…
Pano – The Austrians and Germans take bread seriously, French bakers do not know what they do not know. Craving a toastie after racing (heaven knows why) Pano’s gooey, gourmet bread options were ambrosial. Here is also a great spot for an afternoon ‘kaffee und kuchen’ (coffee & cake) pit stop.
Let me know if you have any other recommendations in Kitzbühel, I will definitely be back!