Zermatt marathon (ultra – 46.6k)
The day before the marathon I went on a hike with Moora, an Irish girl I met at the Zermatt hostel. Moora had planned to get to the Monte Rosa hut (named after the mountain name) something I had seen showcase outside the Zermatt tourist information centre in town and I agreed to go along with her. There was doubt I would make it to the hut as to do so meant crossing a glacier and all I had as foot-ware was trainers and a pair of Terra Nova recovery shoes. I thought I’d give it a go anyway not to pass up the opportunity.
Planning of the Monte took six years and it is 90% energy self sufficient. The picture below shown how stunning a design it is. Since this a running blog I won’t go on any more about it other than it’s an amazing place set in some stunning scenery and worth the trip.
We took the Gornergrat bahn up a few stops to Riffenboden and set out walking, even from 2300m the views were mad, I’ve run a lot of mountain races but I was blown away by the vistas looking down, in front, left and right, glaciers, the Matterhorn and over 14 other 4000+meter high mountains can be seen from Gornergrat. Further on I did have to stop, I could see the Monte Rosa hut a few hours walk away but the glacier was huge and my running shoes were no match for ice! Moora gave a valiant effort to get across with her more sturdy boots but very quickly was coming back. So I gave in, back on the train and at the first stop of three back down the mountain I saw the finish of the marathon ready for tomorrow. I on the other hand would continue a further 600m to the top, at Gornergrat.
Th night before the race I would head out and meet Jochen my friend from the Himalaya and his friends at the pasta party. A great Austrian/ German band were playing some really fun music with some crazy instruments and having a lot of fun with them.
I slept pretty bad in the hostel, very cold with just a blanket, got up 30mins before the scheduled train time (6:48) so I would be ready for the 8:25 start. Met Rob there who collected his race number from me, tried to upgrade to the ultra but couldn’t (but it was ok as at the end we swapped out freebee tops – I preferred the marathon green shirt, he liked the red which so happened to have ultra written on it). Rob snapped a quick photo of me, I rushed to have a final toilet stop and then just as I got to the line, bang, we were off, only 600 of us and so it took no more than 20 seconds or so to cross the start. 20 seconds into crossing the line at the London marathon you are still in the professional category. It was a great feeling to set off on an ultra race which was really full of fit people, this was no ordinary run and there is always that little bot of fear that you’ll be left behind… It helps me go faster!
The course quickly turns back on it’s self to show the start line 30meters below, the stream (river probably in winter) which I would be following for the next 23k’s and about 575 people who I would be trying to overtake as many as possible before the mountain arrives (without doing a Jungfrau and running so fast I burnout).