There it was, two weeks before the half-marathon, our last long training run. The plan called for a 17k and, just conveniently, the 82nd edition of the historical Morat-Fribourg race (or, in German, Murtenlauf), a 17.2k, happened to fall on the same weekend. Seemed just too perfect, right? The catch: It was comprised, fully and unforgivingly, of hills.
Don’t get me wrong, Switzerland is a beautiful country. The environment and the nature are stunning. One thing you certainly cannot say about it is that it’s flat; breathtaking mountains surround you everywhere. MRB got this brilliant idea of making the course entry my birthday gift. I had no choice but to smile, look around at the flat as a pancake country I live in, and prepare myself for a certain death somewhere in the Swiss hills between the cities of Morat and Fribourg.
I was so incredibly nervous the morning of the race, I could barely speak. It was cold, but sunny, and I couldn’t decide what to wear. I laid out my long sleeve in the evening, but I was afraid of being too warm. When we finally arrived at the race, everyone and their mother worn short sleeve tees. Fortunately, we took ours with us, so we could change. It was a wise decision, after all. I even got a bit of a sunburn.
The race itself was very difficult for me. Just look at that profile! I have no chance on training for those in my flat-as-a-pancake Netherlands.
The first 1.5km it tricks you into thinking it’s going to be OK, going down gently before the long, 5k climb of constant uphill starts. That’s when I walked for the first time, and I had to break to a walk a couple more times, including the steep climb just after the 12th km. And the downhills were not really very speedy or comfortable either; sometimes they were so steep they made my ankles hurt. I had to take multiple walking breaks and my overall pace is the worst ever. And then, just before the finish, there was the last steep climb and I was so, so happy to be finished.
However, the views were so stunning, I don’t regret a single moment. It’s such a beautiful course, and apart from the “official” refreshments stations, there are locals treating runners with water and oranges and dried fruit. How friendly of them! You almost forget that they call you a “jogger” all the time…
The only downside and disappointment is that there was completely no bling. They promised us medals, but then said it was a “typing mistake”. What a bummer!