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.
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