Date 16. - 22.07.2017

A foreign heart beat in the chest

When his heart stopped beating back in 2012, no one would have guessed what happened in the next couple of years. But now, five years after successfully undergoing surgery, Elmar Sprink is possibly the most fittest heart transplant athlete in the world, and his sportive goals are nothing less than a medic sensation.


A new heart, a new life - and many ambitious goals: Elmar Sprink © Stefan Nimmesgern

This summer, the 46-year-old will enter the BIKE Transalp starting in the master category with team partner Klaus Schmitz.

What may sound crazy for the most, is only the next thing on his bucket list as the IT specialist has already competed in more than 50 long distance events since the cardiac transplantation including Transalpine Run, Cape Epic and Ironman Hawaii.

“Setting targets and trying to achieve them has always been important for me,” the sport enthusiast explains. “At first, it was my goal to walk again, now it's endurance races where I try to make it to the finish line with a smile; especially in multi-day events as they make things even more exciting.”

Sprink loves this agony of pushing himself to the limit, the feeling when the muscles burn and therefore loses no opportunity to climb as much as he can on his mountain bike. However, the ironman knows what to expect when crossing the Alps: “Every stage is a challenge; and over the course of the week you will for sure have one bad day.”

But as much as the focus is on the personal boundary experience, the mountain bike fan is also hoping to raise awareness for organ donation with the help of his biography which has been led to several high quality exposure in print magazines, TV or radio shows already.

“I want to sensitise people for this important topic and collect money for those who are currently facing hard times,” the triathlon athlete explains. That said, it's obvious that Sprink knows what he is talking about: “Being healthy is the most important thing. I unfortunately learned it the hard way. You only live once.”


Elmar Sprink is looking forward to some real climbs at the Transalp © Sportograf

As a result, it's all about those money can't buy moments and the team spirit of the one-week chase across the main ridge of the Alps: “I can't wait to see those panorama views and to climb those long ascents which suit my transplanted heart better than those very exhausting shorter climbs featured at the Epic. And I'm looking forward to the mountains, nice trails and hopefully good weather as well as a beer with Klaus at Lake Garda.”

It will be the first time that the two master racers will finish the Transalp together although they have already proven at various runs or races that they work well in a team. Both are also training together for quite a while now.

“Klaus is a strong cyclist. He is my personal McGyver as he can disassemble a bike and put everything back together at the right place. And he is a pretty cool customer.”