Sunday, July 8, 2018


Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon: Up to new heights!

Im Oberwallis im schönu Tal
Da löifunt alli widär Mal
Än Marathon mit Emotion
zZielband gseh, das isch diinä Lohn

(from the official Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon song “Alli gliich” by Sam Gruber)

Yeah, I did it! Seeing the finish line was the main goal for the Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon, my first full marathon this year. On Saturday I finished this fantastic alpine racing challenge from St. Niklaus at 1,116 m all the way up to Riffelberg at 2,585 m in an excruciating 7:22:13.5.

The weather forecast had started with rain and thunderstorms a week before the race and got better by the day, with only light rain on Friday when I arrived by train, and a perfectly clear sky and sunny weather on Saturday. An alphorn quartet, which welcomed the runners at the start in Sankt Niklaus, was the perfectly fit to the picturesque mountain landscape.  The first half of the run to Zermatt was quite easy, with plenty of shade along the track and only 500 m vertical height, and the headache that had plagued me for the first few kilometers magically disappeared.

The second half was more challenging, with steep inclines, mostly in the sun, and varying terrain from comfortable hike paths to rugged areas and single trails. The beautiful nature along the route and the absolutely stunning views on the king of mountains, the Matterhorn, make it well worth the effort and enjoyable. After all, this is not so much a race against the competition but against yourself – and the clock.

The small margin against the cut-off time was shrinking rapidly. With not enough energy or time left, I had to forgo the admittedly quite arrogant goal to take on the extra 3.4 km to the Gornergrat for an “insane ultra” (organizer Olivier Andenmatten) and happily settled for the marathon distance this time. What a relief when I crossed the finish line and received my marathon medal and the finisher pack!

Thank you to my wonderful wife for giving me this very special birthday gift and sending me off to Zermatt!

Also thank you to my running partners in crime for their support and encouragement. When I had mentioned the remote idea of going for the Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon a few weeks before the event to Egon Theiner, he suggested to give it a try: “Not sure about your current training level, but then, nothing ventured, nothing gained!” It was well worth it, and congratulations Egon on your successful ultra run.

Lastly, the organizing team and the many helpers deserve a big round of applause for making this an absolutely perfect event. With the many friendly and helpful people at the supply stations and along the course, everything just worked fine.

PS. Did I get to see the Gornergrat after all? Of course, I took the train up to the summit right after the run to enjoy the panoramic view.

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