21. September 2021

Swiss Trail Tour, Day 2

The longest stage of the Swiss Trail Tour is awaiting me. Spirits are still running high, although my legs remember the effort from the previous day. How is it going to turn out today? Impressions from Day 2.

Is it the day of reckoning? Partially yes, partially no. But let’s get to that later. What’s certain is that it’s the second day of my long awaited multistage race in Lenk, Simmental in Switzerland.

Today’s menu offers a 39 km route over what would be flat terrain, if it weren’t for the mountain and the 1800 metres of elevation gain that come with it. For a person who grew up in the flats, that’s not a joke.

For starters, I ignore the mountain though and stick to the leading group for the first 500 metres. Just to see how fast they are. Answer: fast. So I drop back to where I belong. Rather than admiring my performance over the briefest of distances, I prefer to look at the surroundings. Not long after, a beautiful waterfall greets us. I cannot only see the waterfall, but actually feel the tiny droplets on my face. What a start.

But let’s take things in order. Before today’s race even started, some prep work had to be completed. Along the most important prep work is breakfast. I was lucky that there were apparently sufficiently many runners in my hotel, that breakfast was served an hour sooner than usual.

You’d bet I was worried about the running? I probably should have been. But really, what I worry about when it comes to races like this: food. Not only do I need food before the race. I also need to know that there’s food available after the race. It’s a great source of motivation, just knowing there’ll be food.

Food is also important. Sometimes I wonder whether I shouldn’t just bring a nice sandwich on a run like that. With proper cheese, butter, and all the trimmings. I’m not expecting that to be served of course, but why not put it in my little racing vest? Mental note to myself.

The majority of the 1800 metres of elevation gain awaits us in the first half. I’m doing surprisingly fine even though (maybe) the lack of some hikes of that sort over the past year makes me struggle towards the end of the ascent.

Talking of struggle. Downhill is a real struggle. Still. Again. Well why should it have changed since day before really? If so only for the worse. Maybe I’ve run down too fast on day one. Maybe this is the day of reckoning, for not holding back enough the day before. I’ll never know. What I know, however, is that people are overtaking me in droves whilst I’m cautiously hiking down the steep incline post a beautiful mountain lake. Some of them I catch up with again when there are relatively flat sections. But the real struggle is to come with some of the last kilometres. Too much steep downhill on trails for my skill level.

The day is stunningly beautiful. The panorama is breathtaking. The route takes us along rivers, over bridges, up trails in the first, up steep mountain flanks, through scree, through mud, down meadows, over stiles, and even underneath a wire fence. I imagine that I rolled quite elegantly underneath that fence. But imagination rarely matches reality. Point is though that this race has even better scenery than I dared to dream of. With such scenery, running almost becomes like a thing on the side.

Hikers are out and about, and cheer us on. Although I feel slightly guilty that they’re moving out of the way. It should always be the faster people making way for the slower. Anyhow, there’s enough panorama to take in for anyone. 5:08 hours later, I’m done with Day 2. What a day.

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