This is a copy of the race report I posted on the C25K forums. I wanted to tell the story on my own blog as well.
All my worries about the weather went away when I woke up on race day to helicopters buzzing around on a clear blue sky, they where filming the start of the 78 km race that takes place in the city of Davos. The marathon route joins up with them for part of their run later on.
After a good breakfast, lots of antichafe and way too little sunscreen, my friend and I and a lot of other runners took the train to Bergün where our race would start. While waiting at a stop about 20 km away, we were passed by some of the K78 runners and they got a bit of cheering on their way
In Bergün we had about 1½ hours of waiting time before the race started. We spend it getting ready enjoying the scenery and relaxing in the sun. We looked a lot at the surrounding mountains and wondered whether it was any of those we would run up. The weather was getting really warm and there was not a cloud in sight.
Finally we hear the gun and we're off! The race starts with a nice steep downhill before looping back into town and changing to a climp.
For the next 5 km, it was slightly uphill. Not that much worse than what you can find in Denmark, but for a much longer stretch. Our hills are seldom more than 200-300 meters long at most.
Then the grade began to increase and from 5-6 km we hit a bit of narrow trail that was quite steep. I saw the first people walking, but at this point I felt really great. I had lots of energy and my legs felt fresh. After this trail, it leveled out a bit again and everyone returned to running
Soon after we arrived at an aid station. I know you shouldn't try anything new in a race, but for some reason as I was mentally set on running this race for the experience and not to set a fast time, I had convinced myself that it was ok to just get energy from the aid stations. I would later on after the descents experience quite a bit of nausea, perhaps this is the cause. They served water and ISOtea at all the stations which seems to be some kind of sweetened ice tea and in the mountain aid stations they also had warm bullion and bread. Here I am all loaded up on ISOtea
We continued thought some wonderful scenery
There was a great and friendly atmosphere, lots of others ran with cameras and took time to stop and get a few shots. Almost everytime I had mine out, someone asked if they should take my picture with it and I offered to take theirs, with their own.
You may notice my fairly light skin where my usual shirts have covered me up. Earlier on I only applied sunscreen to my nose and on the top of my shoulders thinking that the rest would manage just fine. I am regretting that as I am writing this. Red as a boiled lobster everywhere but the nose.
We're now past 12 km and it's beginning to get a bit steep
When I saw this guy and his seeing partner I was impressed, but it is nothing compared to now. Thinking about the type of trails we ran later on, I can't imagine how they managed. Notice the red bib number, that means he's doing the 78 km race. Well done!
From this point it really goes up. At most times it's impossible to run, both from the incline but also the congestion.
In the Danish singlet we have Rie. She is a 21 time marathoner, half ironman triathlete and an all around wonderful person. I began chatting to her here and we ran the rest of the race together. At this time I still had great legs and lots of energy and she told me I didn't have to wait for her. I'm glad I did though, she really helped me through to the finish after we got down the last mountain.
There where quite a bit of cows along the route. Featuring bells and seemingly wondering what possessed us to go racing up their mountains
Along the course, in addition to our own kilometre markers, we also saw those for the K78. I was rather pleased at this point to not have run 50 km already and still have 28 km to go.
At many points the trail was crossed by water running down from the mountain tops. Some places we had to jump from stone to stone in order to avoid getting wet feet. This is at about 2350 meters altitude.
Up it goes
This is a look up at Keschhütte, at 2625 meters above the sea. This is the highest we'll get.
After a short pause for pictures, down it goes again
Here the K78 runners split up from us as they will take a trail called the Panorama trail between the two mountains where as we will run down into the valley below and up again.
I was actually quite surprised how hard it was to run down. Not only was the trail filled with loose rock of all sizes, so it took all your concentration to avoid falling, every step also jarred the legs and in fact the whole body as you tried to break the descent. No pictures of the worst stuff as I was just trying to avoid braking something.
Next time I'll also bring trail shoes!
Finally we arrived at the last aid station before the climb to the next mountain. The scarlettapass
A look down at the aid station
If I thought the climb earlier was steep, I was in for a surprise. This one snaked up the mountainside with lots of bends to keep the grade down.
It was tempting to throw a snowball at some one, but I doubt anyone would have appreciated it at this point
At this time we joined up with the K78 runners again. You can see them coming from the left up in the snow patch
I think these pictures illustrates the climb nicely. At this point we're at about 2400 meters and my heart rate is 160 bpm while walking. Normally I'd be running around 4:55 min/km at this HR.
Here we have another dane on the top taking advantage of the free massage. I wish I had! On the following descent, you instantly knew who had gotten a massage as they all smelled strongly of menthol
I'm really happy I ran in the Danish singlet. There where lots of other Danes at the race and lots of chatting going on. The Swedish spectators where also very good at cheering us on with "Hop Danska, hop!"
After a bit more raisin bread and ISOtea, doesn it goes again. This descent was if possible, even worse than the first one. I don't know what I had expected - maybe flat trails that you could actually run on, but this just seemed to be very rocky trails with rather bad footing. I kept hoping for it to level out so that I could actually run instead of just a semi controlled stumble.
After a long descent and finally a few small hills we hit some almost flat trail where it would have been possible to keep a good speed if my legs hadn't been totally shot from running down the mountain. Fitness wise I was ok. Tired but not that bad, my legs where just dead heavy. This is also around the point where I was hit with nausea whenever I ran. We had about 12 km to go and Rie tried to keep my spirits up by reminding me how short a 12 km run was in my normal training. It did help, but man was I busted.
The scenery was still fantastic though.
I'm not the only one who was tired
With just 4 km to go, we hit a final climp. It's just about 100 meters of steep uphill, doesn't look like much on the photo but I found it very very evil to place another hill at that point
This was a damn nice sign to see
Back in the city outskirts. People where sitting in the gardens and along the streets cheering
Finally we could hear the music and cheering from the stadium. The announcer on the speaker mentioned the two Danes who where almost done and I was so incredible happy to run the last half round on the 400 meter track before crossing the finish line. Got our medals, a finishers jacket and for those who wanted a beer. I stuck to water though and had my celebration beer later
Check out the salt :)
While this was hard beyond my wildest imagination, it was also the most incredible experience. Living in pancake flat Denmark, I'm amazed just by seeing a mountain, but to actually run a marathon in them was fantastic beyond explanation. The atmosphere in the city of Davos is also great. Over 3500 participants ran one of the various races from the Nordic walk, over the K11, K21, C42 to the K42 and K78 and today many of them are still limping around the hilly streets of the city, struggling to stand up after sitting at restaurants and almost walking backwards on the streets that go downhill :)
As I am writing this the whole sky above the city is filled with fireworks as there is a local festival together with the races. Just amazing.
I'll definitely be back again another time. But next time I'll hopefully have trained more on hills and remember the sunscreen, I am so burned now that I could hardly sleep last night.
If you have the chance to run this marathon or even one of the shorter events, do it. The race is very well arranged, the scenery couldn't be better. It's simple an experience for a lifetime. I can't recommend it enough.