Davos Swiss Alpine Ultra

29th July 2012
Davos, Switzerland
78km (79.4km this year apparently due to a route alteration)
+/- 2600m

This was my first 50 miler and an unknown distance, as previously the furthest i’d run was 38 miles in training. The week before had been pretty busy so standing at the start line on Saturday morning at 7am, I felt like the race had sprung up on me. I opted to run with my Raidlight backpack with extra food and water over a waist pack, which most people went with. This turned out to be a good choice for me; despite the checkpoints having plenty of water and iso drinks, the only vegan food on offer was some bananas at two checkpoints. In my head (after a quick couple of looks at the elevation profile) I had split the race into four parts – downhill, flat, uphill, downhill. This turned out to be a massive simplification, although in this case I think ignorance worked in my favour.
I set off a at very leisurely pace for a lap around Davos town centre along with the c42 and k30 runners. The weekend actually offers several races including the option of running 42km of the first or second half of the k78. We soon got onto the road out of Davos, before hitting a climb through the woods followed by a fair chunk of downhill. I enjoyed this part, the views were lovely and the weather was cool and dry. I arrived at the 30k mark at about 2hr57 and was surprised to hear my name and nationality called out by the announcers which was quite cool. Downhill bit done, I thought, time for the flat bit. Except it wasn’t flat for very long. The trail went gradually up hill for a little while before we found ourselves on the main, windy and very much uphill road to Bergun. Like most of the people around me I chose to walk this section. At this point some thunder and lightening started up followed quickly by heavy rain. Eventually we made it to Bergun. There was good crowd support here, I also managed to see Serpie runner Maureen who did the K42 as her first marathon (well done!)

The ‘flat’ part over, and now joined by the k42ers, the uphill part of the race began. It had stopped raining at this point but kicked in again just as I was emerging out of the woods and onto the exposed route up to the Sertig Pass. Luckily it dried up pretty quickly. I tried to keep to a decent fast hike, especially when I saw what I thought was the top of the pass. Once at the aid station at the top, I saw the path down and mentally moved into the last downhill section of the race. I was so wrong! Not long later I saw the actual, horrible climb up to the actual Sertig pass. Argh!! This was my low point, painfully slow with my hands on my knee’s, I slogged on up, grumbling in my head that I hadn’t spotted this on the elevation profile. At the top I was assured I was on my way downhill and thankfully it looked to be true. I could see several km’s of trail so I picked up the pace and pushed on, trying to make up the time I’d lost on the climb. I started to get hungry at this point as I had eaten all my food but thankfully my legs felt ok.

Of course I should of realised it wouldn’t be all plain sailing- the last 15km was on undulating trails through woodland and fields and I found myself walking even the smallest sections of uphill as I just didn’t have the energy to run these. I managed a bit of a sprint down the last hill but when we came to the stadium in Davos and the final half lap, I couldn’t push any harder. I’d had a sneaky time check an hour before but I still couldn’t really believe it when I came in at 9hr11. I’d been aiming for sub 12hr (the cut off is 14) but had secretly hoped for a sub 11. I was 30th lady and 2nd in my age category- stoked! Kris, Rob and Alan, who had all come in before me, were waiting which was nice. After a looong stretch (I needed it!) I picked up my medal and very cool finishers t-shirt with ‘k78 finisher’ printed on the back. Despite a few down patches during the race and some pretty horrific blisters on my toes, I really enjoyed Davos and I think it might be on the agenda for next year. So I’m now 280 miles through my 600 mile challenge. Next stop, if I can fix my feet in time, is the 31mile Salisbury 54321 – bring it on!!

*As always, Kris took all the awesome photos. Check out his blog for a full gallery from the race*

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