Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Jungfrau Marathon Summary

It was beautiful and I really loved the experience. Being unable to push it as much as I wanted (because of the injuries) I enjoyed it also as a scenic hike and had plenty of time to look around enjoying the views.

I even have 3 pictures of me taken by marathon-photos.com (with some pictures shot from the train back -- see the slideshow) and two video clips: official finishers clip and encounter with Michael at ~11km.

The results are online too (mine is 5:33.09 with the bib number 4704).
Now if you want to read the detailed report...

I've passed through Interlaken for the first time in the summer of 2007 and wished that I could come back and hike around the area. The town is located between Lake Brienz to the east and Lake Thun to the west, at the foot the famous trio of peaks, the Eiger, the Mönch and the Jungfrau.

By some weird chance I've started to run the same year and a bit more than year later I saw a web page of a mountain marathon starting from Interlaken and going upto Jungfrau. I registered for this race in December 2008.

More Intro
Well, it was not hard to register, but since May 2009 I could not run as much as I wished thanks to problems with the foot tendons. Moreover, being really talented when it comes to injuries, I managed to get an acute extensors tendinitis in my left foot just five weeks before the race. I could barely walk for two weeks of those...
...but  the foot slowly got better and I, hoping for the best, left for Switzerland on the 3rd of September.

The marathon started on the 5th of September at 9:00. I was offered a ride from the hotel (Berghof Hotel, Wilderswil) to the start by 8:00 and handed in my one piece of baggage with my bib number. The weather (rainy and windy on the 4th of Sept) was just perfect: sunny with around 10 degrees Celsius at the start and +1 -> +4 degrees at the finish with great visibility.

I did not know what to expect from myself after the injuries, so I planned to go slowly (just under the cut off times would have suited me). Trying to go really easy and get into a comfortable pace I noticed that I went much faster than I should: ~5 min/km. So I deliberately slowed down whenever I looked at the watch (see the splits info).

At ~11km we've passed Wilderswil where I stayed with my family; and Michael actually managed to notice me, while it was more challenging for Vitaly ;-)

Everything stayed relaxed for some time and I passed the 15km marker in 1 hour 15 min... and then the things started to get more interesting. While my feet behaved the best way they could (I felt them but they did not get worse) my left knee welcomed every step with rather sharp pain. It seemed that the run was over. Well, I thought, I have not much to loose, in a worst case I'll take the train back and slowed down as much as I could while still running until 25km.

25km, is where the "uphill" of the mountain marathon begins, so it is mostly walked by many runners. I switched to the strategy adopted in my 80km: walk the uphill (almost all the way to the finish ;-)), run the downhill (last 1 km). Actually during 38->41 km I had no choice for the pace, since there were serious "traffic jams" along the steep and slippery narrow mountain trail. The amazing 20min time split for km ~41 shows the stand/walk pace of that part ;-)
So, I've been "forced" to do a relaxed "hiking" marathon... I felt strong till the end and besides my knee everything was great -- I felt kind of weird watching people around me working hard and feeling like I have a nice scenic walk, although any attempts to run uphill got very strong protests from the knee, threatening to end my race right "here and now".
By the way, I felt better with my style when I saw that although people passed me running the less steep parts (where I walked), many of them were slower on steeper parts, and there I was able to get ahead of them again without struggling.

Besides the usual gels/bars/bananas/bullion/water/etc. there were chocolates offered from ~40km and I did accept the offer ;-) The spectators were amazing! Besides the colorful bands along the way people stood for hours in small villages they read the names of total strangers on the bib numbers and found words for every runner!!
Very special marathon, indeed!


Jonnifer said...

Perhaps the splendid view compensated for your lack of speed due to injury?

Congratulations! You must have enjoyed the race.

Tatiana said...

Thanks Jon,
I certainly enjoyed the race!