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SwissAlpine marathon, Davos

28/07/2012

Jo Zakrzewski and Doug Brown travelled to Switzerland to take part in the 2012 SwissAlpine races... 

For those who like variety, then the SwissAlpine races may be the ones for you. Not many other events can boast road, trail, alpine path, steps, viaducts, suspension bridges, cross-country, mud and track running.

This year, the weather competed with the terrain for variety, with runners having to deal with sun, rain, wind, hail, and thunder & lightning over the mountain passes.

Over 5000 participants entered the 8 events: the children's races, the 10K walk, the K10, the K21 (a half marathon which gains 500m in elevation), the K30, the C42 (net 700m elevation loss), the K42 (the highest marathon in Europe) and the K78 (with almost 11,000 feet of elevation to gain and lose over the race, the "hardest alpine ultramarathon in the world"). It is a truly international event, with runners from all over the world participating, and the USA, China, Sweden, Russia, Belgium, Germany, the Czech republic, France and GB all amongst the countries represented on the various podiums, along with Switzerland and the local runners.

Jo Zakrzewski started the K78 at 7am and enjoyed some good running for the first 30K, but found the next section tough as the course had to be changed due to weather, and so became a long steep drag uphill on road.Doug Brown encouraged Jo through Bergun as he headed off to the start of the K42 at 10:30. This race involved climbing up and looping back to Bergun before joining the K78 course.The clouds closed in and thunder rolled round the runners as they climbed up to the first of the 2 mountain passes. Vests had seemed a good choice in the earlier mugginess, but were less comfortable when soaking wet with hail driving into your face.The weather had been good in the week leading up to the race, so the only snow to cross was a few patches in the steep descent from the 9,000 foot high Sertig Pass. The weather during the race, however, made the cross-country section very boggy and muddy for the tired legs of runners having just completed the steep descent.Some further steep road descents and climbs took their toll before the final few miles of trail, but Jo managed to push on to finish in 3rd place behind the record-breaking Jasmin Nunige (who was 3rd overall) winning her local race and Lizzy Hawker in 2nd.

As well as the usual variations on Jo's name, it was interesting to hear the MC's attempts at pronouncing "Dumfries".

Doug had a good run in the mountains, and although he hadn't been looking forward to the short steep road sections in the latter stages of the race, he was spurred on by a promised beer at the finish, which was duly delivered once he had the medal round his neck!

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