A race recap
I can feel my heart beating down to my throat. Always one foot before the other, I remember my months of training. I use my poles to save energy and keep fighting my way up the mountain. Slowly. Very slowly, but I know that when I reach the Faulhorn, the hardest part is done.
I'm in the middle of the race, two kilometers from the Faulhorn. It's nearly half time, distance wise. Then it's almost all downhill. Up to this moment I still haven't really realized what is happening here and that I crossed the starting line of the biggest race of my life just four and a half hours ago.
Up, up, up – and down
Running, and especially long distance running is a constant up and down.
Not only as far as the trail itself is concerned, but also mentally. The Eiger Ultra E51 first goes uphill. And indeed the trail is steep and hard and wonderful.
At the start I took it easy and together with Felix I started very calmly and purposefully. Around us, some runners started much faster, but we swore from the beginning not to go too fast - and just as we thought, we could show our strengths in the first uphill passage.
Years of hiking with many meters of altitude have given us an invaluable advantage over many other runners. We can both hike long distances quickly uphill. After we had completed the first kilometres together, I soon noticed that I had to run this race alone. At the Grosse Scheidegg, after about 8 km, we separated, so that each of us could run the race as it felt right that day.
At the Grosse Scheidegg the first steep ascent was done and in gentle ups and downs the race track led to First, where we were led over the First Cliff Walk to the aid station. And here my wonderful, my great team waited for me.
You might be the runner, but your crew is just as important as your muscles
Your team makes up a huge amount of the race result. And the fact that my parents had travelled 700 km for a single race meant a lot to me.
At the Aid Station First my parents waited with Ioma. They had everything I might need: my favourite iso-drink, new cereal bars, gels and fruit puree. Nuts, dates, dextrose and they made sure that I was well fed and could go with new reserves in my backpack into the next and most exhausting part of the race. But the most important thing they had with them was the look in their eyes. Seeing how proud they were that I ran this race - even though I know we had some differences about the sport - motivated me a lot.
I'm an ultrarunner now!
After First we went up to the Faulhorn. Here I fought. Against my racing heart, my fear of not being able to make it and against my "inner piggy". But at some point, I just kept going and going and even if the descent from Faulhorn was very difficult and technically demanding, I still mastered it slowly. And finally I was able to run some stages again.
The trail from Faulhorn to Schynige Platte is one of the probably most scenic trails I have ever run. Such wonderful views, I stopped a few times and took photos. For me this is also part of trail running. To enjoy the moment, the view, the trail.
Behind the aid station at Schyinge Platte the trail descended. Steep. Very steep.
I am not a good downhill runner. I am very slow, need my poles a lot and the trail down to Burglauenen was incredibly steep and technical. Many roots, slippery and dusty ground and my insecurity made sure that I sat down elegantly once. (Thanks, to the great runners who stopped immediately and looked after me - that's also part of trail running, and I appreciate it.)
Fortunately, nothing had happened and while I was walking the last meters to Burglauenen, when I saw my dad and two friends again, it realized: I am now an ultrarunner. I had just cracked the marathon mark – for the first time in my life – and this moment was indescribable. (On my Instagram channel I showed you a photo and a video of this moment.)
It's done, welcome to the finish line
When I left the aid station in Burglauenen, I still had a good six kilometres to go. I had to hike large parts of this route – even though it was flat. I see no reason to be ashamed, because for me trail running also means knowing when it's better to hike, to protect my body.
Nevertheless, I kept looking at my watch, because I had already seen that I could finish the race in less than 10.5 hours. So I kept running small distances. Then I hiked again. Fast, with strength from my arms, using my poles. I overtook some groups and ran the last 1.5 km together with a trail runner from France. And after the last ascent was mastered, I could finally turn into the home straight.
What a feeling! My mum, my dad at the finish line. Some friends right behind the finish line, who had come especially for this moment and of course Felix, who waited for me in the finish area for 45 minutes. I felt exhausted, I was soaking wet, because I was running into a little rain and some hail on the last 4 or 5 kilometres, but I have rarely ever felt that happy after a race.
And that was it. My first ultramarathon. What now? Celebrate. Recover. Reflect. And then, in a few weeks, I can decide where the trail running journey will take me...