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Eiger Ultra Trail race

20/07/2014

Over the weekend of 19th-20th, Grindewald, otherwise known as the glacier village, hosted the Eiger Ultra Trail races. Amongst the international field gathered for the event was Mo Khan representing DRC in the 16k event. Mo sent the following report...

Grindewald lies in a valley encircled by some of the highest mountains in Europe. With a start line at an altitude higher than most munros in Scotland (1050m above sea level), and a total climb of 960m, there was a degree of trepidation about running at such heights. Based in Wengen for the week prior to the race, I took heed of advice that Doug Brown had given me previously, and trained at over 2000m above sea level. As race day approached, it soon became apparent though that altitude would be the least of my worries. More concerning was the weather report which forecasted temperatures in excess of 30C during the race.

Having the imposing Eiger as a backdrop to a race start was pretty special. Even after we got under way, I couldn’t help but keep glancing back over my shoulder at the dramatic mountain range which included Monch and Jungfrau. The first 4-5k involved steady climbing over asphalt and forest roads. Immediately after the first water station, there was a very steep climb which eventually relented once we reached a high alpine meadow. This was my favourite section of the race as the running was less strenuous and we had breathtakingly stunning views of the north east ridge of the Eiger in front of us. There was more climbing after the next feed station but there were lots of locals cheering us on now. Immediately after reaching the final water station, there was a downhill section of technical trail. Training on rugged Scottish hills paid dividends here and I picked up several positions. Whilst the Swiss and German runners were clearly stronger running uphill, the few British hill runners in the race showed superior descending skills. Coming back into Grindelwald, I began to toil in the heat. Fortunately, Lucy was spectating at the 15k stage and her encouragement spurred me on to the finish.

The mens race was won by Dominik Scherrer from Switzerland in 1hr 24m 13s. Michaela Shedler from Germany won the ladies event in 1hr 31m 12s. In view of the heat, I had set myself a target of 2hr 15m so was well chuffed to come in at 2hr 8m 48s and in 119th out of 311 finishers.  

This was a fantastic event and extremely well organised. The race bib with your name and flag was a nice little touch, though not so sure about the free lager which was alcohol-free!

Mo

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