The Eiger Ultra Trail is set high up in the Swiss Mountains. There are four different races held over the weekend; 16km, 35km, 51km and 101km. I have had my eye on the 101km since returning from the desert in April. I had some really good specific training in the build-up (see previous blogs).
Grindelwald is a small town about 3 hours south of Zurich. It is most famous for its fantastic views of the North Face of the Eiger. The days before a race can sometimes be stressful, registration, not being able to find the food you want to eat etc. Thankfully, Grindelwald was well set up to receive over 1000 runners.
At 0430, 600 runners were released from Grindelwald to start their journey on the 101km race. The pace at the start was quick, uphill and relentless. In true fashion, I started a tad quick and had to reel myself in after 25km. It was going to be a long day with over 6750m vertical ascent!
This was the first race that I have used poles. They do take a bit of getting used to but they are able to reduce the strain on your legs when going uphill. This was essential for me as my strengths lie with the running sections. The Eiger Ultra Trail had lots of great sections where I was able to really get into my stride. There were also significant technical sections to the race, running over rocks, steep descents and thin trails through forests. Concentration was key, you couldn’t afford to switch off for a second.
At the 51km point I was in 8th place, I had made sure that I didn’t work too hard in the first half of the race. I knew that I had some big climbs ahead so wanted to leave something in the tank, also there was a nice long downhill section that I knew would be able to make up some ground. Slowly but surely I started to move through the pack and ended up in 4th position at the 70km point.
The final stage of the race is a steep descent on tarmac before a short but very steep climb back into Grindelwald and the awaiting finish line. I crossed the line in 11hrs 55mins 22secs, in 4th place.
My nutrition and hydration had been good throughout the race. I was using Precision Hydration 250 mixed with water in my bottles. The aid stations were really well stocked with bars, gels and fruit. I was carrying SIS gels that I find work really well as you don’t need to take water with them.
I decided to pack an I-Pod shuffle for this race…. I think I need to download some new music as I ended up listening to lots of S-Club 7!! Any suggestions on what to listen to?
It was great to be representing Team Train As One in the race. Natalie White was also racing in the 35km. She had a good race, finishing 5th. She would have liked some more technical downhill which would have really focussed on her strengths.
What a great experience. Looking back on my performace, there are lots of work on points that I will focus on in the coming weeks and months. I am slightly sore now from the downhill sections but nothing that some good food and rest wont solve. I am off to Chamonix for the next week for Robbie & Nats’ Alpine Running Training Camp.
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes