Last year I went to the Swiss Alps 100 and had a tough day (my lessons from the race here). I wanted to go back this year to run a better race and because this is one of the most beautiful race courses I've ever run on. I decided to do the 100km as I thought I could finish it during the day and because I felt like it was the right distance for the fitness I had and the training I'd done over the summer.
I started the race with a conservative plan to account for the challenges of the route, the forecast high temperatures, and because this was going to be my only ultramarathon race of the year and I wanted to make it count. It wasn't easy to stick to the plan going up the first climb because a lot of people ran ahead of me and then during the climb more pushed up past me. I arrived at the first aid station around 20th feeling comfortable and ready for the rest of the race.
On the descent and along the glacier I started to catch some runners, but I stuck to my plan and used the incredible views to distract myself from getting caught up in the excitement of moving upwards through the field too soon. By Niederwald (28km) I had passed a few more runners and I was settled into my pace. At the aid station I ate, drank and followed my cooling strategy which included lots of ice, cooling sleeves, and cold spray on my legs. The day was heating up and I was ready for it.
The next few hours were a period of being patient, staying cool and calm, and sticking to the plan. I drank a lot, ate well, and dunked my head and arms in every fountain I saw. Everything was going very well until the climb from Chäserstatt over to Binn. About halfway up the climb I started to feel some nausea and I struggled to eat. I slowed my pace and worked carefully to get over the climb. On the descent I felt a little better and I overtook a runner to move into 3rd place. In Binn I drank some coke and sparkling water to try and settle my stomach and we continued with the cooling strategy. (I could have spent more time here and eaten something - a lesson for future races).
On the final climb I was steady and controlled, but I wasn't moving that fast. The nausea returned and I didn't eat anything on the climb. Fortunately I could see back down all the switchbacks of the climb and the fact that there wasn't anyone quickly approaching me gave me the reassurance to try and look after myself by not pushing too hard. On the last descent I was fast enough that I knew other runners would have to be flying down the descent to catch me. It wasn't far to go and I knew I would see V a couple of times in the last 16km which was just the encouragement I needed.
From Grengiols to the finish I was working to end my race as well as I could given my low energy from not eating much in the previous few hours. I wanted to hold on to third place, to finish in daylight, and most of all I just wanted to be finished. Fortunately I was able to achieve all those goals and arrived in Fiesch with a time of 13:26:03 in third place.
I am very happy with my result. The first 70km went well and my plan was perfect for the condition I was in on race day. The last few hours were tough, but that's a part of racing ultramarathons and I was pleased to remain positive and determined to achieve the best performance I could. This is one of the most beautiful races I've done (see the pictures below) and together with a good result I know this is one of my highlights of the year.
|The Swiss Alps! This is just before the aid station at Kühboden.|
|Almost at the top of the first climb near Bettmerhorn.|
|Running down towards the glacier.|
|The Aletsch Glacier.|
|Maybe the most beautiful race in the world!|
|Hängebrücke Aspi-Titter on the way to Bellwald.|
|Arriving in the aid station at Chäserstatt.|
|Near Breithorn before the final descent into the valley.|
|That was an amazing race!|
Race result13 August 2022