Today has been a day of travel to Verbier. The trip by train from Zermatt to Le Chable was about 3 hours.
Interestingly, when one is traveling in the Zermatt area, the voiceover on the train (not Peyton Manning like at DIA) speaks in German, French and then English. The Zermatt area is mostly German-speaking with French and Italian and English being the other common languages. Once you switch trains at Visp and head towards Martigny, the voiceover on the train switches to French and English only because this part of Switzerland is French speaking.
Eventually the train stops at Le Chable and you get off to take either a bus or gondola up to Verbier. We chose to take the bus because it was sitting right outside next to the train.
The bus route takes you up a many switchbacked road which is very popular with people in fast cars and motorcycles. I saw a Ferrari pass a garbage truck in the middle of a switchback and no one seemed to think this was odd or dangerous.
Verbier is a bigger town than Zermatt and it allows cars which will take a bit of adjusting to. Verbier also has no street signs to tell you which street you are on so finding your lodging is a bit of a guessing game. Fortunately M guessed correctly on her first try.
We thought Zermatt was a steep place to live but it’s nothing compared to Verbier. Since Verbier is on the side of the mountain there are only two ways to go. Up or down.
We will let you know how things are once we get settled.
I figured that since we were just sitting here in ugly old Zermatt doing nothing I would give a little update. The pictures will convey how awful it is here and how we are suffering through every minute.
Since we have been here we have run each day in order to better adapt to the new time zone and keep our legs ready to race on Saturday. Our runs so far are supposed to have been easy, but when all trails go straight up, easy becomes a relative term. Today we did discover the easiest trail in Zermatt! If you go down to the river and stay next to it you can have what is basically a flat run. The problem we have then is getting back to the place we are staying. The studio apartment is about 100 yards straight up a hill that averages between 10-15% grade. I may do a short video later of the hill and our apartment with short being the operative word.
As some of you may know, Zermatt is car free so everyone (locals anyway) walks or rides their bike everywhere they go. There is a local electric bus system that will take you up and down the street next to the river if you are not good at walking or are just lazy. Given the terrain, it’s easy to understand why most of the local’s bikes have electric motors on them. These are not the hidden electric motors that some pro cyclists have lately been accused of using, but are usually large obvious motors that aid a great deal in going up hill. A guy on his way to work yesterday scared me while we were on our run because he silently came flying past me going up a hill. Usually you can hear bikers going up hill because they are working hard but this guy was barely breathing. No worry about bikers on tomorrow’s run however!
Some of you may be wondering which race is tomorrow and I can tell you that it’s by far the “easier” of our two races. It’s only 13 miles with somewhere over 4,000 feet of gain. If I can finish in 4 hours it will be a good day for me, but I will not be pushing the pace by any means so we will see what happens.
Hopefully the photos below will convey our suffering accurately.
Well folks, we did it! M and I both finished the Ultraks 46k. Its actually 50k, and believe me those last 4k could not have been harder had they asked us to just jump off the mountain and land back down in Zermatt. M finished in about 8 hours and 23 minutes for 7th in her age group. I finished in 8:49 which put me at 74th in my age group.
We did over 12,000 feet of climbing and descending. I burned over 6,000 calories. We are both thankful that the highest altitude the race hit was 10,300 feet which made all the climbing a little easier. I estimated that I power hiked 95% of the climbs, as did everyone else. They are just too steep to run up. This fact didn’t really cause me or M to go much slower and we certainly saved a lot of energy for the long miles ahead.
My entire race was saved by a British lady who gave me 4 of her salt tablets when my entire body was going into cramp mode. I only had 2 salt tablets and had already used one because of earlier cramps. I could barely move when she passed me and asked if I needed anything, and miraculously when I said, “salt” she ran back up the hill a little ways to give me some of her supply. That is the spirit of trail running.
A funny thing happened on my way down the last climb which drops over 3,000 feet in 3 miles. There was a particularly muddy section where I decided to slip and fall. I was ok but my legs were so tired it was hard to get up. A German guy right behind me, commented, “Now you look like a trail runner!” as I was covered in mud.
Both M and I are so sore that we could barely even stretch afterward. We plan to take it easy tomorrow.
That is all I can think of for now. Maybe I’ll remember more to write about tomorrow.