Men do less than they ought, unless they do all that they can.
Two weeks after the 78km Swiss Alpine Davos, and one week after the Gondo Event with its double marathon …. Friday I climbed the Nadelhorn (4327m) between the Saas and Mattertal valleys in the Valais of Switzerland. Then I sat on a bench waiting for the bus, and wondered if it was too late to go to run Sierre-Zinal afterall. I had been invited to this race – but the timing of the invitation came when I was still suffering from my stress fracture and unsure about how the summer plans could work out. With first a 78km race and then an 84 km race in the previous two weeks, and a 4000m mountain just 2 days before (let alone all the other running and walking) – perhaps this would be a step too far? Was it too much to expect my legs to forget the miles in them and be fresh and fast enough for a race of this stature?
Sierre-Zinal is one of the most respected mountain races internationally with a well-established reputation. Highly regarded by both the athletics community and the local population, it is a race that draws elite international runners, and huge crowds of supporters. This was the 35th anniversary of this race of the Five Four Thousand Meter Peaks, a true classic mountain race – which was created as an expression of the real delight of running in the mountains. At a distance of 31km (leading from the town of Sierre in the broad basin of the Rhone Valley to Zinal) – it is ‘short’ for me – but it is a tough race with 2000m ascent and nearly 1000m of descent, demanding high levels of endurance and technical mountain running ability.
I took a deep breath as I was sitting on that bench in Saas Fee – and made the telephone call. Not only was it still possible to race on the Sunday – but they would be delighted for me to be there …. It was meant to be. I just wasn’t so sure my legs thought so too.
A hot day, but a stunning course – running towards the Matterhorn yet again – this time from another perspective. As I gained height from the floor of the Rhone Valley the mountains opened out before me drawing me on until the final descent into Zinal. A beautiful race. Stretching the envelope of endurance – I took 3rd position. Sometimes when you try to do more than you think you can, you find the more is possible?!