Thursday, July 12, 2007


INFERNO HALF-MARATHON: Map of Approximate Race Course(above)

Last year, I had to travel to the city of Basel in Switzerland on business so decided to find a run. I asked my friend Mathis to look on line for me as he was from Switzerland. He responded with the Inferno Half Marathon. It is actually a few hours outside of Basel, near Interlaken, Switzerland. Mathis became a huge help - actually driving me to local hills during lunch for training runs, pacing me, setting up the arrangements in Switzerland and driving us to and from the race. Basically he did everything. He became my "Coach".

This is from the race website comments:Lauterbrunnen (795 metres above sea level) - Mürren (1640) - Schilthorn (2970).Distance 21.097 km, climb 2175 m).The starting line is at the Jungfrau camping site, directly below the Staubbach falls, the famous landmark in the Lauterbrunnen valley. The first 11 kilometres are quite "harmless" with approx. 800 altitude difference, a mere warm-up. Just after the Sportzentrum in Mürren the competitors meet their first challenge at the Höhenlücke After passing the more difficult, steeper Kanonenrohr, a two kilometre long, flat stony terrain awaits the athletes before they attempt the approx. 1,5kilometre finishing climb up to the Schilthorn-peak, overcoming another fiendish 400 metres altitude difference" The finish is at the "lab" of the villian in James Bond "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".

My comments:There is no doubt this was a tough race. You already start at a higher elevation (granted not Everest, but about 2400 feet higher than I normally train). The scenery was beautiful. But, it was very intimidating. During meetings the week pre-date almost everyone with whom I spoke in Switzerland about the race couldn't believe it - two outright told me that I would not be able to do it.

If you get a chance, rent James Bond: On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The mountain and lab at the top of the mountain was the race finish. That will give you some idea.

The first 10K were tough and it was actually warmer in the valley then I expected. The start took place near a waterfall and then wound up town streets. It then climbed into a forested area with tough grades - about King's Mountain grade (a local cycling training hill).

After exiting the forest, we ran rocky paths until entering the town of Murren half way up the Alp. There I saw Mathis and Cori and Erika, my support team. They were great - cheering me on. Then, I had to leave them behind as I turned off the streets and up what appeared to be a straight wall up the mountain.

Me and my support team:

The two walls leading to the peak were very hard. Long, steep, and very rugged with loose rock, cold wind but still direct sun. I was sucking in air/oxygen. Then near the 10 mile part aid stations started having cola - that helped. I actually ended up passing people on the final 1 mile (that gained about 1300 feet). That mile was unbelievable (photo below) - one actually used hand and feet to climb and, at one point, it was a sheer drop 6000 feet below on either side as runners crossed a rocky "bridge" to the peak. In plain view (although with peaks still a bit high above us) were many famous Swiss Alps as the Eiger.

When I finished, I had assumed that maybe I took around #200 out of I believe over 300. But I was actually 85th (out of nearly 370). That shocked and pleased me.

Me and my two co-workers at 10,000 feet on the top of the Schilthorn:

1 comment:

Dave said...

great race report, i have entered this years race and it has given me a good idea of what to expect. How long did it take you to finish and how much would you say is runable?