Andrew OBriens 12-in-12 marathon challenge: part two
On the eastern edge of Switzerland, the Swiss Alpine certainly lived up to its reputation. Perhaps best described as a running adventure on Europe's rooftop, the challenging course took us from the town of Davos - the highest city in Switzerland - across the Alps to the village of Bergu¨n.
After a sportsman's breakfast of cold pasta, the race began with an impressive crowd cheering us on. The route weaved around the town for the first 5km, before heading out onto the mountain trails.
A throbbing pain in my knees soon set in, intensifying on descents, though abating on the hill climbs. So, thinking on my feet, I adopted a tactic of plodding down each slope while the other runners sped past, only to overtake them again on the inclines! This meant I maintained a respectable overall pace.
It's high summer in the alpine region and, despite the early hour, the temperature was rising. After passing the 12km mark, the course advanced into the towering forests of firs and pines, providing welcome shade.
At the 32km marker, running became impossible as I scrambled over rocks and tree roots on steep slopes. During the final 5km, I was able to begin running again as the trail gave way to a rugged mountain track and the finish line in Bergu¨n.
The Swiss Alpine is probably one of the most idyllic marathons in the world, if not the easiest! From forest streams and viaducts, through gorges and mountain passes, to lush green fields and picturesque villages, this route has it all and proved an unforgettable experience.
Andrew will be heading to the Ugandan bush next for the third race in his 12-in-12 marathon challenge. Updates at www.12in12forisis.com
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