After finding myself spending another summer in the Alps, I knew I just had to try the Swiss Alpine K21 race again. I ran it in 2008 with a heavy cold but loved it so much I knew I had to try again – hopefully without the cold!
The route meanders from Klosters to Davos though villages and on trails through pine and larch forests. Let me give you a few stats to give you a flavour of the race:
- Distance: 21k
- Elevation gain: 917m
- Elevation loss: 423m
- Calories burnt: 1102
It’s the only half marathon I have ever done and when I ran it in 2008 I finished in 3:15hrs – which I was quite disappointed with. As you can see from the stats, it’s mainly uphill – but what you can’t see from the stats is it’s mainly off-road. The start is from the stunning Sunniberg Bridge which is closed to traffic for the event. The views are stunning, the weather was gorgeous, I didn’t have a cold!
We set off from the bridge with Vangelis’ ‘Conquest of Paridise’ playing from the speakers and the helicopter circling above – very exciting! At the end of the bridge, we run on our first off-road trail and it’s a steep one too which lasts for 3k and sorts the girls from the ladies I can tell you! I ran/walked it and tried to keep my heart rate below 85% which was difficult. Once we got to the top it became more undulating. I found I could overtake people quite easily on the downhill sections – probably due to the fact that all of my training has been done on undulating, off-road trails.
I took on some water at the first refreshment station and threw some of it over my hot head! Children lined the village streets with arms outstretched hoping for a high 5 and shouting ‘ooop, ooop, oop’! I tried to get as many high 5’s in as I could and keep smiling – maybe some of these kids will be runners of the future but I was dying inside. Because I had trouble keeping my heart rate below 85% I started to suffer from nausea and struggled to take on fluid and gels. I forced myself to eat 2 SiS Go gels en-route and continued to sip at my SiS PSP22 energy drink because I knew if I didn’t that the last 7k would be murder.
Andrew met me at about the half way point, took a picture and gave me some water which cheered me up no end. Then I could see Davos lake and knew the worse was behind me. It’s slightly downhill/flat on the run into Davos but the organisers have a sting in the tail. At about 17k the trail joins the K42 runners with an uphill kick that is a killer for tired legs. But once you’ve conquered that last hill, it’s all downhill into Davos.
People lined the streets in Davos, shouting and cheering at everyone – it was really uplifting. Into the sports arena for the finish and the shouting was deafening. ‘We are Family’ was playing on the loud speakers just like in 2008 and I even managed a sprint finish to come home in 2:54 – 21 mins quicker than 2008.
Check out the video shot by the race directors – I come across the line at 10 seconds looking exhausted!
Wow – what a race!