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.
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.
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