7/1/17 – Race Day

Today was the Zermatt Half Marathon for M and I, and it really could not have gone better.

We got to the start area about 9 to check in and put our extra clothes in the proper bags and have them sent up to the finish area which was at Riffleberg. We then did a quick warm up and got herded into our starting corral. There are hundreds of runners so everyone gets put into a starting wave.

M and I started about 10:20 and I was immediately left in the dust by our entire wave because as usual the Euros started off at a sprint. Its 13 miles uphill people!

I lost M about mile 2, but I knew she’d be waiting for me at the finish. I was excited to see how well she would do as she’s pretty fast going uphill.

After mile 2 is when the race really starts as it’s a fairly steep grade all the way to mile 7. There is a nice downhill for about a mile then another short uphill to mile 8. After that is a nice flat part from mile 8.5 to 11.

Mile 11.5 begins the last big uphill and it’s a bear. Most people are hiking this section because they are tired by this point. Plus, unless you are an elite runner, hiking is more efficient due to the grade.

The very last part is an easier uphill from mile 12.5 to 13 with a small downhill finish where you can turn on the jets!

As usual in Europe there are hundreds if not thousands of fans cheering you along the whole way. There were only a couple of times I can remember there being no people cheering on the route. Most of those people are just out for their site-seeing hike in Zermatt, but Euros love mountain races so they get excited and cheer everybody on. The last part of the race runs right next to the GornergratBahn train (for those that don’t sprechen sie deutsch bahn means train so I used it twice in a row there) that goes up to the top of the Gornergrat mountain. The people on the train have the windows down just so they can scream, “Hop, Hop, allez, allez,” as they go by you. Even if you don’t speak German or French you get the idea. The thought did occur to me that hitching a ride on the train would have made the last hill much easier but I didn’t have the speed to catch it.

M finished in an amazing 2:35 and I came in with a very satisfying 2:51.

If anyone wanted to do a starter race in Europe this would be the one I would recommend because of the beauty and the overall organization of the race.

Now it’s time to refuel! And rest!

Cold & tired competitors
Looking down to Zermatt from about mile 9