Monthly Archives: September 2016

Double decker trains, Swiss efficiency and the Lake Geneva Shoreline

Today truly is Trains, Planes and Automobiles.  Four trains changing at Interlaken, Speiz and Visp arriving at Geneva for my 14:10 flight to Edinburgh then drive home.

The Swiss rail system from its app to travel is an amazing organism.  Everything interacts.  The app gives you all the changes that you need to do to get to your destination the arrival platform and departure platform is listed and when you get on the trains especially the more modern ones a screen details the journey for you with arrival times of the stations and if that wasn’t enough on the way out it shows the connecting trains.  I didn’t have a bike with me this journey but cyclists are well catered for even on the Inter country trains. Train I had chosen this time was going around the other side of the lake and we were soon picking up customers at a rather famous train station well if you are of a certain musical bent! 

 I arrived at the Airport with enough time to get some food before my departure which was a few minutes late but made the time up.  An uneventful flight followed and I was in Edinburgh in no time.  THe drive to the Forth road bridge at 6 pm was another matter

Post Jungfrau post.

A bit of a restless night and one of the disadvantages of being near the rail station is the noise when the first trains begin at about 0600.  My legs felt stiff when I woke up but surprisingly no m ore than they would feel normally.  I got out of bed and made my way downstairs to the toilet without the post marathon hobble!  After a shower I felt good as new and had a very light breakfast and set off to hire a bike for the day.

I hired a BMC 29er from Imboden bike just up the road from the hostel.  The staff at the shop gave me some suggestions for rides and provided me with a map.  Off I went.


I headed out to the Schilthorn cable car station and took the cable car up to Gimmewald a very short journey which took me up about 400 m.

Leaving Gimmelwald I headed for Murren and found a sandwich and a coke with my name on it.  The day was heating up and with the climbing involved there wasn’t much chance of cooling down.  All the trails are well marked with timings given for walking between villages.  Leaving Murren I headed for Wintereggand then Grutschalp.  The trails up until then had been quite good but things began to get a bit more technical between Grutschalp and the turn off for Sulwald.  I reached the turn off and headed up the 2.7k climb to Sulwald basically so I could come down it again!and what a descent it was all the way back to Lauterbrunnen via Isenfluh and fly I did.

After arriving back at Lauterbrunnen I headed for the campsite shop to get some food for the evening.  Unfortunately it was not open and  didn’t. open for 15 mins just enough time for a beer.

Book review-The Hungry Cyclist Tom Kevill-Davies

A Transamerica journey with a twist, the author decided to cycle from New York to Rio De Janerio in search of the perfect meal.

A quest undertaken on his own and through some dangerous countries in common with books of this genre he describes notable encounters and events on his joiurney.  One reason why I never get fed up reading this type of book is each one truly is different.

As he progresses on his journey hee thoughtfully provides recipes of meals he has tried and enjoyed although I dont know how my local pet shop would take it if I asked for two guines pigs to go!

An enjoyable read I wont spoil it for you by revealing the perfect meal.

Race day.

This race is organised to the nth degree I am staying in Lauterbrunnen and the start is in Interlaken there are trains arranged to take runners down to the start very half hour from about 0600!  I woke at various times during the night my excitement mounting as the time to get up came closer.  I had breakfast and went back for a lay down before finally rising for the train.  I plumped for the 0733 as I did not want to be standing around too much at the start.

The organisers provided some entertainment however in the shape of flag throwers and horn blowers.  

As the start time got closer I selected a spot near the 5:30 pacer and waited for the off from Nicola Sperig no less!

Popular misconception No1 it’s flat for 10K the uphill for 32k. Its in Interlaken for almost the first 10k plenty elbowing and crowds.  The street furniture makes it pretty hazardous as well with speed bumps, bollards and roundabouts to look out for. 

It starts to rise gently towards Lauterbrunnen. Which is where the half marathon is past pretty pedestrian 2:02. But happy with that as was wary of what was to come.  At 25K there  was what is known in business speak as a “sea”change.  The track headed very much uphill and the K. Markers were now given in 250m almost immediately people started to walk and were stopping to rub various body parts or simply to rest.  This continued for approx 2k with the trail becoming more and more like a casualty clearing station.  The weather had been good warm when in the sun but plenty of shade when in forests or running along the side of a mountain even for me heat wasn’t a problem! 

The course headed in and through Wengen, plenty of people out cheering the runners on this had been true all through the run and would continue even in the higher wooded sections with hikers lending thier support!   I had seen a few people take tumbles and this would increase as the course got higher with rocks and tree roots posing problems to weary runners who could hardly lift thier feet.   As the climbing continued so did the walking I tried to run between groups and then make my way through them at a walk this process worked well until the final push when the track is too rocky and narrow to pass anyone.  I saw a first aider powering up ahead of us on a grassy path to the side.  I jumped onto this and used it for a bot 200 m but then it joined the main track I saw my chance of sub 5:30 dissapeared and trudged up with the rest of them annoying as I wasn’t feelin too bad.  At last I could hear the strains of a piper floating down the hill as he came into view he changed tunes from. Scottish Soldier to Amazing Grace and I felt all emotional for about 2 paces!!

Popular misconception No 2 the last mile is all down hill the last 500m maybe!!  As you crest the top of the hill you can see the finish but the course undulates and even goes under a tunnel before the final dash for the line.
Once across the line you are presented with a full bottle of the sports drinks sponsors wares, a medal and if you so desire you can Q for a beer.  Next is removing the timing chip from your race number and collecting a t shirt and a huge bar of Swiss chocolate.  Bags next about a 400m round trip but good chance to ease out the legs then it’s into a shower that’s right, at the top of a mountain the Swiss install a shower tent complete with hair dryers!   That was it J done.  Not as bad as I was expecting..   But I still had a pizza and wine to celebrate.

Stats 26.2 miles

14219 ft
5h42m24s

Registration, free travel and the North Face.

Generally the day before a large marathon is pretty boring you head for the registration point in this case a large white tent in the centre of Interlaken, browse the sponsors stalls collecting as much freebies as you can and then go for food and get to bed and get ready for the race.

Not today!  I headed to Interlaken on the train finally getting to see what I missed in the dark last night and found the registration no problem. With my number collected and browsing duties carried out I headed back to the station to get the train to Kleine Scheidegg to take a look at the race finish.  Now so far things had been pretty picture skew but as the train travelled first up to Grindelwald where I changed trains for the onward journey to Kleine Scheidegg this view hove into sight.  Under clouds but easily recognisable.

Absolutely amazing.  After tearing my eyes away from it I followed the Jungfrau signs up to the finish line..

I will be seeing this only from the opposite direction tomorrow!

I made my way back to the station and this time a 1 train journey back to Lauterbrunnen for a quick cuppa and freshen up before heading back to Interlaken for the pre race pasta party.  A bit of a misnomer as it happens pasta yes not a lot but tasty along with an alcohol free drink which is as it should be.   But not a lot of partying to be had even the finishers from the mini marathon seemed subdued.  I ate my food chatted to a few folks at least as much as language barriers would permit and made my way back to the station for the 20 min train journey back to Lauterbrunnen and bed.

Trains, planes and automobiles.

Actually it’s automobiles, planes and trains but hey ho.  Heading to Switzerland for the Jungfrau.  Parking at Edinburgh NCP then flying Easyjet to Geneva and then train through to my hostel in Lauterbrunnen.  

So far so good except for rain of Floridian proportions on way to Edinburgh  and a wee glitch with Siri, asked for Smoke on the water and got Hey Jude-by the Chilli Pipers, everything has gone fine but I have yet to get near a plane.  Sitting people watching in the airport and waiting for gate to be announced.  It has easily been over a year since I was last at Edinburgh airport and it has changed out of all recognition.  Easy jet left on time and an uneventful flight saw me in Geneva at 16:40 local time just in time to grab some water and make my way to the station for the 17:03 to Bern.  The train arrd in Bern and we had a ten minute wait for the train to Interlaken Ost on a German Rail train.  Loads of space and very comfortable.  Trouble on the line meant that we had to get a bus from the penultimate station to ours and also meant we missed the connection but it was a warm starlit night so what wasn’t to like.  The journey from Geneva had been a pleasent one through vineyards, sunflowers and pastureland for the most part with industry around the rail stations.  

I was booked in at the Valley Hostel for four nights a family run hostel with mixed reviews but I met a couple on the train who had stayed there and said it was lovely and clean.  The hostel was only a few minutes walk from the station and was easy to find.  I booked in, was given my slippers, no shoes allowed, and shown to my room which was full.  After a quick supper I headed for bed.  This was the view I woke up to.

Jungfrau looms

Under a week now till I head for Switzerland and the J in my A-Z marathon challenge.  When I decided to enter the Jungfrau I sat down and devised a 22 week marathon training programme knowing that due to other commitments there was no way that the plan could be completed.  The first ten weeks went better than planned and were a bit more intense than normal to try and make sure I was in as good shape as possible for the other 12 weeks.  Not that I was going to be sitting about you understand.  I had a three week biking holiday in France some 465 miles, the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling and various tours for Scottish Bike Touring so plenty cycling but not many running miles.  We will have to see what happens!!