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

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