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From pharmacist to runner, Philipp Ausserhofer tells about his ultra trail journey
Humble and determined, Philipp Ausserhofer is a rising star of ultra trail. Born and raised in Valle Aurina, he fell in love with mountain running. It became a healthy obsession, leading him to dream bigger and bigger and set his sights on the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB).


With a kind smile and a shy look, his face changes expression when he sees mountain paths. There’s immediate curiosity, the desire to discover what’s hidden beyond the hill that appears on the horizon.
Philipp Ausserhofer is delighted every time he has the opportunity to experience a new adventure. An unexpected encounter reveals this young trail runner, who grew up among the meadows and vertical surfaces of Valle Aurina, to be a frenetic, hyperactive motivator, always ready for action and full of positivity.
Humble but ambitious, today Philipp Ausserhofer is a rising star of ultra trail, the mountain running discipline that covers long distances with thousands of meters of elevation change — day and night, in sun and rain, challenging one’s physical and mental limits, chasing an apparently impossible dream.




Philipp, if you had to tell us about yourself, what would you say besides describing your passion for the mountains?
I’m someone who tries to follow his own dreams and his own trail, along his own path. In trail running as in life, I always choose goals that are difficult to achieve, because I’ve come to understand that if something is easy to achieve it doesn’t interest me.
I’ve always followed an “all in or nothing” philosophy. All or nothing. In school, in sports, at work. I also chose to study pharmacy, when maybe I could have considered other, less difficult university courses.
What advice would you give to those who want to get into ultra trail today?
I think the most important advice is to be patient. Be patient with the development both of your body and of the process that leads to being ready for long-distance racing. You have to learn to deal with the different aspects that make up the world of ultra sport: training, mental preparation, nutrition, equipment. There are many pieces that have to fit together.
Start slowly, because your body and mind must adapt to long distances. Then, I think this is the most common mistake people make: you can’t and shouldn’t run an ultra every month.


Pharmacy is a course of study that is not only demanding but also requires passion. As an athlete and someone from the mountains, how did you come to choose it?
Yes, both disciplines require passion and hard work to be able to practice them successfully.
My passion for pharmacy comes from my family: my mother and my aunt are pharmacists, so I grew up listening to their stories. I immediately felt drawn in by the passion they put into their work, by how much they are able to help people, and by their knowledge. The fact that my mother hadn’t finished her studies when she found herself expecting me could also have played a role: unfortunately, I interfered (laughs).
I think that often when choosing a career, we let ourselves be influenced by the environment closest to us, or we try to imitate it or, in my case, complete it (even though I was never pushed in this direction — on the contrary). I’m proud to have succeeded, even though I’ve now exited and I feel I can dedicate myself to my true calling, trail running. And yes, I have to say, running is probably the first thing I’ve done entirely for myself.

Not just trail but ultra trail…

Ultra races are what really motivate me. Races that are hard and exhausting, feelings that I’ve been able to experience firsthand. And I haven’t regretted it — on the contrary. It’s been like finding my way, that place where I feel good. I would even say that I’ve found myself through running.


How old were you when you starting running?

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact time. I grew up in Valle Aurina, in a small village surrounded by mountains. My family took me up there and allowed me to learn how to move around in the mountains and become familiar with their dangers in a playful way. That’s how it was.

The mountains have always been a mainstay of my life. Later, maybe at the age of 14 or 15, I started my adventures. I went out to explore, but also to find answers, my own way. That was a difficult period in my life, and the mountains gave me support. Up there, I had that feeling of finding answers to the questions that were echoing in my mind and of finding myself again. At that time, I felt alone, even though I really wasn’t. I never have been — I have a big family by my side.

I felt at home in the mountains; they were my stabilizing force. I wasn’t thinking about running yet, but about discovery. First the trails, then the first peaks, and then connecting them with small personal projects. At a certain point I also found myself experimenting with some mountaineering climbs. Then, in 2018, I signed up for my first race, mainly at the insistence of friends. I never thought this could be my world: I felt too weak to run, not confident enough to compete against opponents and against the clock. In 2020, though, I signed up for an ultra trail race to push my limits. It could have been my sport …

Was it love at first sight?

I remember it like it was today. Maybe, yes, love at first sight, even though I suffered a lot. But I quickly realized that the suffering was worth it. My first race was the Pitztal Alpine Glacier Trail (PAGT), in Austria: 106 kilometers and 6,000 meters of elevation gain, very technical. Even for my first race I chose one of the hardest, at least in my area. Just the way I like it [laughs].

But today you dream of the UTMB…

It was inevitable. I came into the world of ultra trail with the legendary stories of the UTMB, which made me want to test myself against the best in the world. They’re all there, and as an athlete if you want to aim for important goals you have to look to Chamonix.

I know it isn’t the perfect race for me. I love technical races, in difficult environments, while here it’s mainly a question of endurance. In reality, it would be possible to race on a technical course, but they’ve decided to stick to trails and forest roads that are relatively easy to run on. Unfortunately, the sport is increasingly moving in this direction. If you want to play the game, you have to accept it and work on your weaknesses. For me, the UTMB is the Wimbledon of trail running – that’s where the game is played.


Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself out there, isn’t it?

Certainly! But on the other hand, I love the feeling I get when I’m struggling, when I’m tackling something difficult, or when I know I’m not the best or the strongest. Obviously, I want to become one of the best, but to understand how, I have to participate. This is also part of the attraction of ultra trails — without forgetting that you only have a few opportunities to give your best and show what you’re capable of. Three or four times a year, and when they come you have to be ready. It’s an “all in” where you can’t hide.

When talking about ultra trail, most people’s first thoughts are of kilometers and elevation gain. What do you think of?

Ultra trail for me is not just a trail running discipline. It means much more than running for hundreds of kilometers and thousands of meters of elevation gain. For me, these races are like a metaphor for life.

I’ll try to explain: imagine the profile of an ultra trail, with all those ups and downs, with the climbs and descents. Now transpose what the route on the map is into your mind too. Because running an ultra trail means having up and down moments that alternate continuously. As in life. It’s as if you die to be reborn again. This aspect fascinates me very much because it forces you to deal with your emotional equilibrium. To reach the finish, you have to stay balanced. You have to learn not to take the highs for granted, nor the lows too seriously.

Today you’re an athlete on the Karpos team. What’s the relationship that unites you?

The Karpos family is a great little family where I have the pleasure of feeling cared for and listened to. A family that I wanted, and want, to be part of because we work as equals, knowing how to listen to recommendations, from both sides, and, most importantly, in a targeted and truly motivated way, pursuing shared goals. We both know where we come from, but above all, we also know what we’re capable of.


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