Friday, 26 October 2012

Jungfrau Marathon 2012

The last couple of months have seen the focus of my training shift to going long and going up as I had the double goals or running for England in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship in September then backing that up with the 50km World Trophy Final in Italy 6 weeks later.

The races couldn't have been more of a contrast both in terms of profile and outcome ! Lets start with the Jungfrau Marathon. One look at the course profile is enough to make strong men (and even stronger women) tremble in their trainers.

After a first half which sees a steady climb to Lauterbrunnen the course turns right and heads steeply up to Wengen before somewhat levelling off for the next 10km. And then the killer 2km stretch from Wixi up to the ridge at the foot of the Eiger Glacier (top left) is the icing on the cake. And and just when you are looking forward to a rest the last km is a cramp inducing downhill to the finish.

So how to prepare for a race like that ? Run uphill of course. Which is easier said than done in rural somerset which is where the treadmill came in. I'm not a big fan of the treadmill, why run indoors when you can run as nature intended ? One of the great things about modern treadmills is being able to mimic the course profile by adjusting the gradient quickly and easily which is exactly what I did. The first couple of efforts were pretty tough but it got easier to the point where I was able to do one of my 37km runs with 2 hours hilly outdoors then jumping on to the treadmill for 30mins as fast as I could run up a steep hill. That was pretty tough !

Come race day the trick in Jungfrau is to pace the first half right. Too slow and you can't make up the time on the steep second half, too fast and you are heading for a very ugly last hour as you contend with the gradient and low energy. I went through halfway with a large group in just over 82mins and picked up places steadily through the second half to come home 32nd in 3hours 18min 59 secs (left). On balance I was probably too conservative in the first half but better that than the fate that awaited a few of the over ambitious !

What else can I say about the experience ? Simply the most stunning race course I've run, organised with Swiss precision and definitely a must do race for any serious long distance runner. There is a brilliant slideshow from Andy Mettler that gives you a flavour for the event. The uphill training has also given me some fresh persepctives on developing threshold without the impact stresses of running fast on the level, you certainly recover a lot faster after an uphill effort than the equivalent on the flat.

1. Markus Hohenwarter (Aut)
2. Mitja Kosovelj (Slo)
3. Hosea Tuei (Ken)
32. Adrian Marriott (Eng)

Full Results

Race Website