Two runners dead after storm overtakes extreme Zugspitze race

Two runners dead after storm overtakes extreme Zugspitze race
Rescue workers aid an exhausted runner during Sunday's Zugspitze race.Photo: DPA
Two participants of an extreme mountain run on Germany’s 2,962-metre Zugspitze are dead after bad weather set in on the peak on Sunday.

A 41-year-old from North Rhine-Westphalia and a 45-year-old from Baden-Württemberg both died of exhaustion and hypothermia just before reaching the summit of Germany’s highest peak, Munich police reported on Sunday. Rescue workers treated the men on site without success.

“Both died of exhaustion linked to hypothermia and oxygen deprivation,” a police statement from the Bavarian town of Weilheim said.

Another six participants were hospitalized in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the valley below with severe hypothermia after temperatures dropped to below freezing and dumped 10 centimetres of blowing snow. Weather prohibited helicopters from transporting the runners, who had to be taken to the hospital via van.

Some 600 runners took part in the 8th annual Zugzpitze Extremberglauf race, which began with favourable weather at 9:15 am on the Austrian side of the mountain in Ehrwald. Runners gained 2,100 metres of altitude during the 16-kilometre race.

Police reported that up to 100 rescue workers, seven doctors and four helicopters were on hand when runners began experiencing problems around midday on the peak in the Bavarian Alps. Scores of runners were treated for hypothermia and exhaustion, police reported.

Alpine police workers are working together with the Munich district prosecutor’s office to investigate the incident.

The fastest runners reached the summit at 2,962 metres in two hours.