Brief Thoughts on Eiger Ultra Trail

2015-07-19 22.31.38

Mark and I at the finish

The Eiger Ultra Trail 101 kilometer race in Switzerland is one of the best trail races in the world.  Well organized, 22,000ft of climbing over a mostly trail loop around Grindelwald (located at the base of the mighty Eiger).  I also had the great fortune to run with Jeremy Wolf, (SchlarbWolf) and have Mark Schwitau crew me.

After a mixed bag of training and racing this spring, I was in pretty solid shape for this race.  As always, one of my biggest challenges of racing is sleeping before race day.  I managed a 3-4 hour chunk of sleep the night before, which is pretty good for me.  The 1st half of the race went fairly well with a generally comfortable and sustained effort.  I felt good and things played out as expected… conservative start, ran in about 10th, then gradually passed people until I was in second place around 30k.  At 35k I was a couple minutes behind Urs, a Swiss mountain guide and amazing runner who was second behind super stud Iker Karrera, two years before in this race and then won last year with an impressive time.

Urs and I Urs and I

The plan was to ignore everyone else the first half of the race then make a big push at about 60k on a big climb where I would hopefully secure a lead or aggressively acquire it.  After a bit of a low point coming down a big descent to the half way mark and where I would load up on Vitargo and water, I didn’t see the aid station or Mark.  Ends up I didn’t see the aid just a matter of a hundred meters on my left before crossing the highway assuming the aid was after the highway.  I continued on until I was too far up the trail to want to come back and search.  I was upset, running on fumes and I also ran out of water.  My planned surge and shift into race mode was replaced with a slow moving pity party.

Somewhere around 65k I finally hit an aid station where I fueled up on foreign gels.  While it wasn’t a disaster, it wasn’t ideal.  I kept reasonable pace but it gave me an excuse to not focus in on race mode, but rather run in a “hard effort” mode.  Urs kept a 4-10 minute fluctuating gap on me and I only actually saw him a couple times after about 40k.  Urs ran an incredible race just 6 minutes off course record pace and I finished 5ish minutes after him.  The small margin between Urs and I has been haunting me daily.  Overall, I know I ran a great time and put in a great effort, but I know I didn’t employ that extra gear or killer mindset, a mindset that is almost always required for a win in a competitive race.

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I’m doing my best to channel my energy towards learning from this race experience.  I’m certainly considering a return to the Eiger next July as well.

Two positive things I did experience from my race:

1)how efficient a tool Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles are on a long steep mountain course.  This was my 1st race with the BD poles (or any poles) and I know they were a huge, huge help.  I can’t imagine being hunched over power hiking the Eiger course.  No way.

2)Vitargo hooked me up with new fuel that was borderline cheating… but not cheating.  Vitargo has created a WATERMELON electrolyte fuel that you mix with water.  In addition to the standard Vitargo benefits of being the absolute fastest fuel to get to your muscle, this new fuel is thinner, tastes absolutely amazing and has electrolytes.  I’ve never been so excited to fuel up in a race (imagine my disappointment of missing my crew).  Not exaggerating, the new Vitargo Watermelon is the best tasting and performing fuel I’ve ever used.   Watermelon should be out soon.

Gear:

Altra Paradigm 1.5 Shoes

Smartwool Running Apparel and Socks

Vitargo Fueling

Julbo Aero (2016) Glasses

Ultimate Direction Jurek Pack

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles

 

 


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