Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Zurcher Silvesterlauf

Judging by this weekend's season ending Silvesterlauf meeting in Zurich the Swiss certainly know how to put on a great sporting event which bodes well for Euro 2008 ! This was the first time I have done a city centre 'criterium' style race in Europe and its certainly whetted my appetite for more of these races next season.

A whole afternoon of racing started at midday and took in a dozen races from 1km for the kids up to a flat 7 lap 8.8km. Using small laps in the city centre of around one and two kilometres with some tight corners and testing inclines each race was a multi lap affair which makes for great spectating and plenty of action as the races unfold.

Twice on each lap the runners go under temporary footbridges built across the course to allow spectators to get to the inside of the circuit where the food and bars are located. The whole thing is set up more like a motorsport meeting than a running event with the facilities, computerised lap times and near instant results. And with the later races taking place in the dark against a backdrop of the christmas lights in Bahnhofstrasse the atmosphere was maintained to the end.

Racing in sub zero temperatures meant more clothes than usual but with modern technical clothing this isn't such a hinderance. My 4 lap (with steep hill), 8.6km race opened with a fast first kilometre which left me well adrift of the young turks who were eager to exploit the presence of the TV cameras and local press to get some well earned coverage for their personal sponsors.

Once things had settled down I worked my way through the field and hit the front at the start of the second of four laps. It has been a while since I led a race with a lead motorbike and a big crowd cheering the athletes on so I made the most of it and just pushed as hard as I could. The last lap was a real challenge as a good number of slower runners had found their way into this race and lapping the backmarkers was a question of yelling 'achtung' and swerving between runners and crash barriers in blind faith. The runners were so tightly packed that the motorbike had to give up and I was on my own by the end. Fortunately the pursuers had the same difficulty and I was able to run out a confidence boosting winner before resuming domestic racing on Boxing Day.

Full Results

video

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