Saturday, 14 August 2010

Swiss Alpine 78K, 2010

This race was on my mind even before I ran my first race...  A race in the mountains, not too long (fits in one day with a full night rest before and after), not too short (to care too much about speed) and amazingly beautiful! The pictures from the race are at KodakGallery, and there a couple of videos online: finisher clip and Michael's video.
The data from my FR 310 is at Garmin site.

I approached it in well planned (even if in a bit odd manner) stages:
1. 80 km race in Israel;
2. Mountain marathon in Swiss Alps (Jungfrau);
3. the goal (?) race: Swiss Alpine 78k,
    78.5 km race with ~2300m of elevation gain, also in Swiss Alps.

The main problem that during the whole period, a year and a half I had just a couple of months with pain free running: one injury was followed by the next, repeat... Even as I started this race on the 31st of July 2010, I still had some dull strange feelings in my right calf and left knee...

As a year before, at Jungfrau, I combined the race with family vacation, but as it was close to 2 marathon distances and I were not sure I could hike a lot the days following the race, I opted to have a "vacation" part before the race. This also fitted my evil plans to adapt to the altitude and enjoy the walk along the hardest part of the route 4 days before the race. The plan worked the best way it could, even on the preview on the 26th of July I did not feel the lack of oxygen as much as I did at the end of the Jungfrau marathon.

I opted for the offered early start option (6:00 am), since I was really undertrained;
Furthermore, since my 80km time was slightly over 10 hours even not in the mountains, I did not estimate my time as much faster than 12 hours, I thought that 11 hours and 30 minutes is a reasonable guess.
Well, I felt like I was cheating all the way, but I still do not regret my decision.

First hint I got at preview, when I walked with a German guy who had finished this race a year ago under 10 hours. He said that it seams that I am strong enough to be done in closer to 10 hours than 12. I thought he was overoptimistic...

The race early start was on a beautiful clear morning with the first rays of the sun. The white frost covered the ground and the grass.



First 5km were in Davos and then we left the town and continued on the easy dirt road. There was a beautiful semi transparent cloud on the side of the road which stayed still with no wind to move it... I concentrated on being light on my feet, going slow and eating a gel and a salt cap every hour. Then I saw a "AlpenKiwi.de" printed on a shirt of one guy. I enjoyed his video from the previous year and knew that he finished under 11 hours... What he was doing running at 6:00? Well, it seems that there were 2 kinds of runners who took the early option: slow runners having some experience and doubting runners. The second kind included many first timers and slow starters. AlpenKiwi told me that last year he was the last one to pass Keschhutte before the cut off, and then accelerated to finish in 10 hours and 40 minutes. Well, I could not count on the negative split, so I continued with my easy pace.


After ~15km there was a long downhill section which I covered much faster than anticipated and arrived to Filisur an hour before I thought I should. Not a big deal since I planed to walk the uphills so now I felt a bit better about this part of the plan. I also happened to be "the first slow lady": the real first lady, Jasmin Nunige passed me at ~50km mark, running steadily uphill on her way to Keschhutte.

The way from Chants to Keschhutte is... walkable... Well, there is "just" one km (at ~48km mark) with really crazy gradient, where it seems you have to fight it hard no matter how slow you move. So I concentrated and just tried to keep going until the trail became less special ;-)



Another advantage I got by starting early besides the confidence to be free of the cut off threat is an almost empty trail ahead of me. The fast runners were still sparse: they had to gain 2 hours and most of the early slow starters stayed behind... So I had an easy and beautiful panorama trail to Scalettapass for me alone! or almost so ;-)

Then came the most tricky part: technical downhill on tired legs... once again just concentrated on keeping my feet on the ground and not turning any ankles. Fast natives ran there, but I did not want to take chances...

Last 14km were on more crowded beautiful dirt trail (mostly mild downhill) with runners from 42k joining the fun... Even had a glimpse of Vitaly and Michael 2km before the finish which was really a nice touch for the day! While I began feeling two big blisters on my feet (probably from the tiny stones that managed to get into my socks + downhill) and it added some spice for the last 2 hours or so, I still believe that this was the best race I had until now.

 I finished in 10 hours 21 minutes, see results at SA site (bib number 1901).

1 comment:

Gil said...

כל הכבוד

תוצאה מרשימה, התמונות מראות שנהנת וזה המוטו הכי חשוב
respect, grate finish time
from Gil how did it before