Dienstag, 6. Oktober 2015

Top 10 bei Morat - Fribourg!

Morat-Fribourg is to my knowledge the most traditional run in Switzerland. This years edition was already the 82nd and attracted more than 12000 runners in total. It is in memoriam of the messenger of the battle of Morat in 1476 who was carrying a branch of lime tree to Fribourg to proclaim victory - similar to the messenger from Marathon to Athens.

It is the first time I made an appearance at this run. It is 17.17km long (~10.7 miles) and has about 300 meters of incline. It is a fast road course which gives me the opportunity to use my favourite shoe - the Scott Race Rocker. The race is usually dominated by runners from Africa. This should not be any different as the winners of the last couple of years were again at the start giving each other a hard fight to the finish line. I was not to sure of my own capabilities. My last training runs were strong and fast but I had no idea what it was really worth and if I could go with the fastest Swiss runners.

Right from the start in Morat I ran my own pace and didn't bother what the others did. After the first Kilometer I was in about 40th position and at one point it was the first female runner leading! I always say it does not matter if you run the first Kilometer with the leading pack - you just overexert yourself right from the beginning. If you can put in this effort on the last Kilometer - that is when it counts.

In the meantime I was overtaking all (native) Swiss runners and after 4 Kilometers I was running just a few seconds behind Tesfaye Eticha (4x Jungfrau Marathon winner) and Oumoussa. I could drop all the other runners and was now in 9th position. Just before we got to the halfway mark, I bridged the gap to these two runners. When they realised somebody was coming from behind the gave each other a look saying "who the hell is that".
I took my turn in leading our group. On the downhill to Kilometer 12 just before the biggest climb I got a stitch and lost about 40 meters on my rivals. I managed to get rid of it just in time to get back in touch with them on the uphill. The huge crowd literally carried me over the climb and I managed to overtake both of them so I tried to break at least one of them. It seemed to work as Eticha fell back a little. On the big road into Fribourg I didn't had the gear anymore to go with Oumoussa. I had to let him go little by little. And just before we got to the very final climb Eticha was back on my heels. He rushed past me and as we approached the climb I didn't had the strength anymore to fight back. I was giving everything but that was not enough - I pushed probably to hard on the penultimate climb. I crossed the finish line in 9th position and in a time of 57:47 which is an average of 3:21 - a respectable result on this course.


During the race everybody was cheering for me as everybody assumed I would be the first Swiss runner. It was not until after the race that I learned that Tesfaye Eticha has got also the Swiss passport.

It was a great race for me and I loved the atmosphere. The organisation is fantastic and very professional. Merci pour tous Fred ;) I will be back for more! It is a shame not more runners from the German part of Switzerland participate in this race.

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Shoes: Scott Palani RC

Sonntag, 23. August 2015

Ultraks Zermatt

Ultraks Zermatt K46

It was only the third edition of this race which replaced my favourite competition - the Matterhornlauf. I guess there are not many places which could inspire you more than Zermatt and the peaks which surround you. Zermatt - one of those places where cars are not allowed - has its very own charm. Especially in the light of the Matterhorn!

I knew this would be my longest race I would have done so far with 48km and 3600 meters of up & downhill with start and finish is in the heart of Zermatt (1605 m). And thats the kind of race where you know you would have to pace yourself well to make it to the finish in one piece.
The guys from Scott (thanks Martin) organized an apartment for the weekend where the whole team could stay. It was very nice to meet with all the other great athletes from all kinds of countries and also the crew from Scott. We sure had a good time! It gave me also the opportunity to help my teammate Elisa Desco with a hyper-contracted adductor muscle before the race. It felt a lot better and probably prevented her from any discomfort during the race.
Analyzing the times from previous years I set my target to beat the 5 hour mark. I knew this was going to be very hard as not many runners have done it previously. And they had more than 3 months of training. I also set a minimal target as 5:15 hours.
I had a bit of a handicap because on the Wednesday before the race I was doing some applesauce in a pressure cooker with apples from the garden. Even though the valve was in its original position somehow there was still pressure in it. When I tried to open the pressure cooker the lid would fly off and actually boiling applesauce was flying everywhere. The result was a burnt back of my left hand. Look for yourself what it looked like a week later. This was not what I needed before my biggest race of the season. It seems like I was incredibly lucky in the long-term outcome without any sensation changes.

 When we gathered for the start at 7 am in the morning it was really cold. The forecast was really good so nobody bothered about wearing to much. The pace felt quite hard right from the beginning. The first few kilometers I joined Martin Anthamatten as we climbed towards Sunnegga. Just as we approached it the first sunrays dazzled us through the highest trees as we just reached the forest line. It was pure magic! I tried to hold on to my pace, not overdoing it but also not to lose contact to the group of runners I was in now. After a short but brisk downhill we climbed up to the Gornergrat (3130m). Yes the air is thin up there, especially if you are not used to it. But again - the scenery is just spectacular with the Monte Rosa - the highest peak of Switzerland - in the backdrop. During the following downhill I did a misstep which hurt quite a bit. I tried to stay focused but only about a minute later I was about to do another one. Thanks to a reflex I avoided further damage but smashed my other shin on a rock instead.. After a bit of swearing I was back on track but loosing quite a bit of time on some specialists. It was Pere Aurell who went past me as if he had stolen something...

During the next climb up to Schwarzsee I could see a few combatants in front of me. I tried to go my own pace but also trying to catch up the guys in front of me which were not exactly low profile athletes. Even though we were high up in the mountains I was boiling and using everything I could to stay cool and hydrated and energized with the bottles I was carrying with me. For that I used the old version of this Scott bag. Even though this meant I was carrying constantly more weight I was able to drink at any time I wanted and what I wanted. And I was able to refill it on top of the peaks where the aid stations were.

On the third and last big climb above Stafel I was out of juice. In about the only section which could be considered as flat I was feeling dizzy which was a good 4 hours into the race. At that point I just tried to get as much sugar in as I could and the goal was now just to make it to the finish line with the least damage. I recovered a bit as I got to Trift. The last 200 meters uphill was followed by about 800 meters downhill in 3 kilometers. In case your legs have not been sore before they certainly will be now! During this downhill I was chased by Eirik Hausgnes and after a lot of pushing downhill I caught a stone with my foot and landed on my front. Nothing happened and I was standing already again before he was able to pass me but I gave way to Eirik as all I wanted is getting down without any injury. I was hanging on to the 9th place in 5:09 hours which I thought was realistically a good result in this highly competitive field which counts towards the skyrunning world cup.
It was great to see that my long-time rival and friend Martin Anthamatten was able to take the win on hometurf with almost a 10 minute gap to the second runner. Well done!

The views were absolutely stunning throughout the race. I think every competitor would agree in this. And the trails are so well done that you don't have to worry to much about any missteps. It just happens if you are going for any shortcuts or are trying to go faster than your legs allow you to. It is an incredibly beautiful race I can recommend to anybody. There is also a 16km, 30km and a vertical race (uphill only).

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Shoes: Scott Kinabalu RC
Bag: Scott Trail Summit 16

Samstag, 25. Juli 2015

Swissalpine Marathon K42 2015

It is a long time since I last updated my blog. This was also quiet intentional as I did my last race in October at the Beachy Head Marathon. Since then I have taken some time off. It was not until the beginning of June when I picked the training up again. I gradually increased my mileage on the bike and carefully started my running again. The stride did not feel natural and it was hard to get back.

It was clear that I needed a target for my motivation to work towards something. As the events were unfolding with my University I knew I had to do something. My girlfriend mentioned the Swissalpine Marathon in Davos some time ago and this got wired into the brain. As I got back home to Switzerland and did some good training in the Alps I thought all of a sudden that I could be able to do this race a week before the race. After some discussions I knew I should give it a try. When I got a starting place I knew it was real now - and that was 4 days before the event. A few days of tapering and working on my running ABC the body just had to be ready.

We travelled on Saturday morning to Davos where I took the train to Bergün where the start of the K42 is. It is the bottom part of the main race which is 78 kilometres long but covering most of the inclines. I knew the course very well from maps and pictures and had already a good idea what was waiting for me. In Bergün I got my bib and went with Lukas Gehring for a warm-up. Lukas is an athlete I know from my early days in Duathlon. As we were just warming up with only a few minutes left before the start Sandra surprised me to be support me already at the start in Bergün. We planned that I would not see here until the other side of the Sertigpass. But here she was and she passed me the much needed water bottle which I used to cool down my body. Here is one of my personal secrets: When did Noah build the Ark? Before the rain! So start to cool down your body before he is overheated which is already before the start.
Standing behind the starting line and waiting for the starting signal Andrea Tuffli appeared the give us the best wishes for the race. He is the great organiser for the past 30 years of this fantastic event who went forward with it and re-invented this race many times to make it more attractive.

With Martin Lustenberger the oldest of the brothers also started in this race and was apart from Lukas the only person I knew who could get dangerous. The course does a 6 km introduction loop around Bergün (1383 masl) before it joins with the full distance. Very soon it was only Lukas, Martin and me. In the first uphill I thought it would be quite quick so I stayed behind and would see what is going to happen. In the downhill I thought it was a bit slow and just let my legs go and so I was on my own coming back to Bergün. "This is dangerous, don't overdo it" went through my mind. Sandra passed me another water bottle as I came through the town which I emptied completely over my body. As I went on it was clear that I had to stay calm and just run as I would in a training because its going to be a long day.

I enjoyed leading the race and never looked back really as I did not want to push myself to much. I got further up to the Keschhütte (18km, 2632 masl), the first pass before you cross to the Sertigpass. I could feel the lack of oxygene and looked on my watch. I was aware that I was on a similar pace as last years winner Bundi. A quick look back and all I could see was runners from the full distance so I kept going. Here I grabbed a wrong cup and poured an isotonic drink over my head. After a first shock I didn't care to much and tried to forget about it.
After the traverse towards the Sertigpass the runners from the S42 joined our course. Now it got a bit tricky. There were now not only the K78 runners but also a lot of runners which are doing the same distance on relatively similar course but started 2 hours earlier which means they are roughly half as fast as I was because by that time I was already 2 hours on my way.

I climbed the Sertigpass (24km, 2739 masl) next to the trail because it was blocked by other runners which was annoying. Once I reached the top of the pass the steep and technical downhill started in this rocky section. Instead of the best line I was doing a slalom around runners in flat trainers which were just not made for this sort of course (especially when they would slip on the snow). So because they were anxious they were not only slow but also unpredictable.

However I made it down to the Sertigdörfli (1861). I felt still ok even though I was pushing the downhill hard but the shocks from downhill running were noticeable as well as the distance. Sandra was waiting for me here to supply me with a gel and drinks. I was quite relaxed as I did not expect anybody to catch me now. A quick look on my watch showed with a 4 min/km average I would make it to Davos just under 3:30 so I had a goal. I soon realized that would not be easy as the course is not exactly straight and slightly undulating. I started to suffer but what else did I expect? After all its the Swissalpine Marathon! So I made sure I would make it save to the finish in Davos. Exhausted and happy I reached the track in the center of Davos after 3:33:52 hours.

I absolutely loved this race and I think I will be back for more. I know what to expect if I would have the silly idea to do the full distance one day. I am looking forward to it though ;)

And finally a big thank you to my love who was looking after me throughout the course which is hard work - and this on her own birthday!

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Shoes: Scott Kinabalu RC