Humani Trail 2014

Leonie and I hooned down towards Lausanne in Switzerland on Friday night, doubling back and ending up camping near Les  Diablerets where we’d camped a year ago in preparation for the Humani Trail. It’s a running race, and I decided it was the hardest horriblest race I did in 2013. So we were back to see if it was just as nasty as we remembered, or whether it would be knocked from it’s perch by one of the heavy weights like the Highlander, or the Jungfrau, or in Leonie’s case the Inferno.

It was cold on Saturday morning, but once the sun found its way into the valley it turned out to be a delicious Autumn day, much like last year. We trotted off at 10 am. The course had been altered slightly with 2 extra kilometres and another bonus 100 m of elevation added. The course heads down to our camp site to begin with and then heads up into the hills climbing steeply for perhaps 40 minutes, there’s then some running along a ridge before dropping down to a lake where there’s a drinks station but no food. Then it’s back up again and along a very funky ridge with some impressive drops to the highest point of the race. With that the climbing is essentially over but that doesn’t mean the race gets easier. First comes a steep leg-breaking descent and then a run around a lake to the second and last drinks station – this time with some food. During the last 12 km, the course meanders through the hills before dropping steeply to the finish line, with the last 2 km along the flat through forest and then beside a river.

The course is very scenic. There’s great views out to bigger snowy mountains in the distance.

My legs held up better than last year perhaps due to the suffering in this year’s Jungfrau marathon. I tried to get ahead at the start so as not to be boxed in during the steep narrow climb. That seemed to work and I didn’t overtake so many people while climbing compared with last year, so I must have been about right.

Like last year, the course was a big mud-fest. I had my Asics 2140s with not so much profile and was wishing I’d bought a new pair of off-road shoes before the race. It was hard to stay upright in parts and I submersed my shoes often in pools of mud. On the descent to the first lake I ended on my backside in the mud. Mud mud mud.

I stuffed my face at the food station and then hobbled off again. I was slowing down a bit and starting to be overtaken by a few people. I eventually made it to the finish line though. Leonie jogged in not too much later.

Nice race.

The next day we went for a wander in the hills near the camp.


Leonie nearing the finish line (Humani Trail 2014)Leonie just after finishing (Humani Trail 2014)Us after finishing 2 (Humani Trail 2014)

Above left: On Saturday we ran the Humani Trail: 27 km with approximately 1600 m of climbing. The weather was fantastic, the views were great, and the mud was plentiful. Above middle: Despite the race being 2 km longer than last year, with an extra 100 vertical metres, Leonie was 5 minutes faster. Above right: Us after finishing.

View 2 (Walk from Col du Pillon)Cris infront of waterfall (Walk from Col du Pillon)Leonie scrambling (Walk from Col du Pillon)

Above left: On Sunday we went for a wander from Col du Pillion up the valley a wee way. Above middle: We found a couple of waterfalls. Above right: And did some scrambling.

Nice view (Walk from Col du Pillon)

Above: It was a delicious warm, and sunny Autumn day.

Humani Trail 2014 Cris – 03:47:30 – 53/348 (overall) 34th in class
Humani Trail 2014 Leonie – 04:15:04 107/348 (overall) 7th in class

More results here.

Jungfrau Marathon 2014

This year’s Jungfrau Marathon can be nicely summed up in one word… Ouch. Actually that probably sums up the Jungfrau Marathon in 2011. Mega Ouch would be a better way to describe it this year.

Leonie and I headed to Interlaken on Friday night in the rain. Happily it stopped as we arrived and we pitched the tent and crawled inside.

Saturday looked promising – no rain, and a clear sky. We registered and got ready for the race. At the start line we positioned ourselves around the 5:30 mark amongst the 3000 starters. The race began and we jogged off. I was feeling tired from the gun, which was not ideal. Leonie, on the other hand, seemed to be feeling frisky. We ran together for the first 14 km and then I stopped to relieve myself behind a log and that was that. Leonie zoomed off and I didn’t catch up to her until I found her waiting at the finish line.

But anyway, my legs were already ruined after 16 km. My quads were very sore and I was hobbling along. By Lauterbrunnen I began loosing lots of places until the 25 km mark where the course ascends steeply. Without the impact on my legs I was able to ascend quickly as if I were riding a bike, and I must have passed perhaps 100 people. Unfortunately I still hadn’t caught up to Leonie, and I had a glimpse of her ahead as the course double backed on itself after a drinks station – with perhaps a 10 minute lead.

Anyway I hobbled on. It was much flatter again so I began to loose some places although most people were walking by the time we went through Wengen. The 5:30 pace setter kept passing me, then I’d pass him again. Finally we arrived at the last steep narrow ascent. The course splits in two and half the field is directed along a ridge and the other up the side, meeting again 2 km before the finish line. To the right there’s an awesome view of glacial snow below the Jungfrau. The sun was shining and the view was good even if my legs were not.

I passed a bunch of people again on the steep ascent, before hobbling to the finish line on the Kleine Scheidegg below the North face of the Eiger. The gun time was approximately 5 hours 24 minutes as I crossed the line. Leonie was waiting after finishing in a speedy 5 hours 7 minutes. Annoyingly I was 5 minutes slower than last time but considering the lack of training I guess that’s ok.

And now for the excuses. It seems that a season of road cycling isn’t particularly good preparation for a marathon. The impact of the first 25 km of flat running on a mix of tar seal and gravel destroyed my poor soft road cyclist legs. It’s interesting because as soon as it got steep it was more like cycling up a steep hill. Too steep to run so only possible at a fast walk without any of that nasty impact.

I also haven’t done any running since the Inferno and that race doesn’t have that much flat running. Perhaps my legs also had a bit of the Eddy Merckx Classic road race from last weekend still in them too. So all-in-all a far less than optimal training and race plan leading up to the marathon. But that’s ok, considering that, I was quite happy with the result.

My quads were so destroyed I couldn’t bend my legs properly after the race and descending from the finish line was difficult. Leonie showed off by casually bending her legs and grinning. She helped me down and we collected our bags and then hobbled back up to the finish line to take some photos. The Eiger was looking impressive as always. Mönch and Jungfrau were covered in cloud with little enticing bits of snow showing every now and then.

We headed down in the crowded train later back to our camp site.

Interestingly enough my legs were fine when I went for a road ride on Monday, a couple of days after the race. I guess it goes to show that ‘cross-training’ can help but doesn’t replace the real thing.

River next to our campsite before the race (Jungfrau Marathon 2014)Leonie before the race (Jungfrau Marathon 2014)Posing after the race (Jungfrau Marathon 2014)

Above left: It was a nice clear day on race day. A big improvement on the Inferno half marathon this year. Above middle: Leonie kitted herself out with icebreaker top, road cycling arm warmers, head banging black metal on her headphones, buff, and a silly hat. She decided not to run with the bag. Perfect. Above right: I was just able to hobble back up to the finish line after the race for some posing in front of the Eiger North Face.

After the race (Jungfrau Marathon 2014)

Above: Perhaps it was my chin flab that slowed me down. Maybe it had nothing to do with my pansy legs.


Jungfrau Marathon 2014 – 42.195 km / 1829 m vertical, 5:21:48.7, Place 1604 / 3047 Men

Leonie – 5:07:01.03 212 / 943 Women

Jungfrau Marathon Course 2014 Jungfrau Marathon 2014 – Men Jungfrau Marathon 2014 – Women

Map and results above courtesy of Data Sport and Jungfrau Marathon.

Strava has something to say:

Eddy Merckx Classic 2014

Leonie and I cruised to Salzburg on Friday night and camped by a lake somewhere there.

On Saturday we went for a lazy wander up erm… something or other… around midday. The area around Salzburg looks really quite good for all sorts of tramping, climbing, via ferrata missions.

Walking (Salzburg region)

Above: We went for a cruisy walk on Saturday.

The Eddy Merckx Classic was on Sunday. It’s 113 km with around 1400 m of climbing. The course is interesting as there aren’t any major climbs, it’s essentially rollers the whole way. Well essentially…

There’s also a long course and a short course.

The race organisers had been a little annoying and had split the field for the middle distance course into two groups, a Block A, and a Block B. This was annoying as it made it impossible to know where you were in the race unless you were in the first block. I was in Block B along with Markus and Max who we’d met at the Tour de Kärnten in 2013.

It was raced on transponder time, which it had to be due to the two start blocks. But this was also annoying as it meant I lost about five places in the results, due to people crossing the start line after me. Of course I can’t complain two much. This is the tactic I used to win the Grape Ride in 2009 (although the organisers decided to tamper with the results a few weeks after the race. Grrr…).

The race started… and nothing happened. Some time later our block got to start and I worked my way to the front with Markus, Max, and a few others. We rode in a bunch of maybe 10 people. A steep little climb followed by a fast descent. We passed stragglers from the first block as we rode. First ones and twos but then bigger bunches.

The pace was high. At least that’s what it felt like. Probably the Highlander was a bit long and slow to be good training for this race, and my back wheel died in the Arlberg Giro so there hasn’t been much in the way of intense training recently.

I hung on until the 60 km mark, at which point I took a turn at the front for a while with Max and Markus. I let Markus roll past as a hill approached. The bunch went forward. I didn’t. I ended up with a smaller bunch that hadn’t survived the hills a couple of bunches back. We rode at a much more relaxed pace to the finish line. Which was probably good as if I had survived the couple of short hills I would have fallen off on a bigger steeper hill later on.

There were about five of us with blue numbers in the bunch as we drew closer to the finish line. The rest had black numbers from the first start block. I positioned myself to try and outsprint the blue riders and got a good wheel and got across the line before them. Unfortunately due to the transponder time I finished after them in the results… Grr…

Still quite a fun race. If it weren’t for the annoying start setup… I would have preferred a setup like the Arlberg Giro, or the Engadin Radmarathon. There you choose which block to start in based on your expected finishing time. Sure there are people who are over ambitious, me included, but they usually just hang around for a bit and then get spat off the back. Then there’s the tricky question, how to time the race. Transponder time is definitely good if you’re not competitive. By the time you’ve rolled to the start line it can be 2 minutes after the gun went. But it’s a bit silly for the people right at the front. If you’re the first over the finish line you expect to win. So when do you swap from gun time to transponder time?

Anyway… a nice rolling course, and well organised even if the start setup wasn’t my thing.

Cris at the start line 2 (Eddy Merckx Classic 2014)Max and Markus at the start line (Eddy Merckx Classic 2014)

Above left: I packed out my posy NZ cycle gear for the race. Above right: I rode with Max and Markus from Team Laura for the first 60 km before my legs fell apart.

Cris sprinting for the finish (Eddy Merckx Classic 2014)Leonie with bike (Eddy Merckx Classic 2014)

Above left: I out sprinted the others in my start block across the finish line. Above right: Leonie supported me at the race. She secretly wants to get herself a cycling suit as stunning as those in this photo for next year.


Results: Eddy Merckx Classic 2014 – Men Eddy Merckx Classic 2014 – Main Class Men

Eddy Merckx Radmarathon: 113 km / 1396 m Time: 3:13:10.3 Avg: 35.1 km/h 64/393 Men Overall, 36/147 in class.