Eiger Ultra Trail – E101

The Eiger extremely path. One that has been on my ‘record’ for a while. The E101 is a 100km route circling Grindelwald with a not too delicate >6,000m of elevation acquire.

It’s 3:30am and Paul and I’ve met Matt initially line within the shadows of the majestic mountains surrounding Grindelwald. Despite the early hour and darkness it’s already extremely popular. We are upbeat and excited because the race will get underway and we go by the beginning arch with tons of of different runners.

Reunited a 12 months after the VDA

For the primary few kms we start working up the Main Street and again handed our lodge. We made many guarantees about not working this gently inclining highway part however, in fact, we get fully sucked in and are shifting together with the stream of the runners. Thankfully although we quickly hit a bottleneck as we come throughout the path head and the only observe path to start our first climb. Here we chatted to Bert, a neighborhood runner with quite a few finishes on the E101. He shared his experiences with us and gave us an perception into what adventures lay forward.

The climb was a collection of switchbacks by some forests at what was a really civilised tempo. No one was making an attempt to jostle for positions or overtake and everybody was comfy simply shifting alongside collectively. It was quiet and all we may hear within the night time was one another as we chatted away. We met Matt through the Val D Aran final 12 months and this was the primary time we’d met since and actually the primary actual time we’d gotten to know one another correctly. Looking again at Val D’Aran all we actually did was moan at one another.

Runners within the night time

As we climbed, we began to go away the bushes behind and the mountain began to open up and we may look again and see the solar rising over the Eiger and the tail of runners climbing each forward and behind us. It was a surreal view. We then quickly arrived on the first support station which had a really slender setup and led to the runners being funnelled, however it had the whole lot we would have liked. A fast high up of water and we continued on.

Now, on the ‘second part’ of the course we had our first probability to run and transfer at a snug tempo as the paths opened up on the mountain. We rolled alongside having fun with the unimaginable panoramic over Grindelwald with the majestic Eiger standing distinguished behind the city. The solar was now up and the moon was fading.

The trails took us up in direction of ‘First’, however not fairly all the way in which. Just earlier than the ultimate climb to the summit, the route diverted us away and we started the primary descent. Bert was with us as soon as extra and advised us this was the ‘simple’ downhill and to avoid wasting our legs. I’m unsure there was a lot we may do to avoid wasting our legs because the steepness of the sealed observe meant gravity was in management right here.

The downhill was lengthy and sweeping as we looped backwards and forwards on switchbacks used for the mountain carts. Our legs thumped on the floor and our toes heated up with the fixed slapping. As we came across the Firstbahn station we had a short relaxation chew on the aidstation, as soon as extra making certain we had sufficient water consumed and packed as we’d now start the climb again to the summit of First. At round 10am the day was really heating up now and the solar could possibly be felt on our uncovered pores and skin.

We had a primary plan for the warmth administration. It was so simple as making certain we drank sufficient and smothered ourselves in loads of suncream! So far all was good and I used to be assured my morning lathering would see me by to round noon, so at First we deliberate somewhat longer relaxation and to use the following layer.

This climb as soon as extra began with an extended forest part. The smells had been recent and clear. Segments of the route had been an extended collection of steps made out of lengthy longs. The legs had been positively ’feeling it’ after the earlier quad-buster of a downhill. As we left the forest we had been hit with the complete power of the solar as we climbed an uncovered observe on the aspect of the mountain. There was no escaping it now till the ultimate ascent to First not within the distance you may see the clear line of shadow the place the angle of the mountain would block the solar’s rays.

The Sun burning brightly within the early morning

It was a beautiful climb. The incline was gradual and mild terrain nonetheless very forgiving and never too rocky. Into the shade we went into single line as we climbed the previous few hundred metres to the summit. Here the route weaved you across the mountain aspect and underneath the vacationer attraction of the summit viewing platform. A collection of metallic walkways had been constructed and the views had been unimaginable. Maarten, whom I met at MIUT and Cappadocia, was available to supply the assist and loudly cheered us in. There was a small gathering of vacationers and supporters over wanting us from the platform as we made away alongside and underneath them. I whooped and cheered as me and Matt handed by however I had a really muted reply!

The shadow-y climb to the platform at First

This support station was barely bigger than the 2 earlier than and we took a number of additional minutes to eat, acknowledging we had been all hungry, and to use extra sunscreen. We chatted to a different Irish Paul, loved the view after which set off in direction of Faulhorn. Just as we set off as soon as extra Maarten supplied the vitality and gave us a mid-morning increase. From right here we had clear views of the paths we’d run and will see Faulhorn off up within the distance. Faulhorn could be the best level on the race at round 2,644m. The tracks had been as soon as extra very forgiving and had been lengthy mild gravel tracks. Once extra, as I used to be certain it will all day, the Eiger stood proud and distinguished watching our progress.

What a view!

Very quickly we had been at a collection of lakes which had been amazingly tranquil and supplied a view looming again down onto First. We’d hardly seen how excessive we’d climbed already. After weaving by the lakes, for the primary time the paths turned somewhat extra technical and have become rocky and slender for a brief descent. As we started, the primary of the 50km runners started to go us and zipped by. The lead runner was flying up and down with ease (he went on to win with an unimaginable time!).

Lakes under Faulhorn

Before finishing the climb to Faulhorn we had one other support station after descending a number of hundred metres. This was the primary time we had been a bit confused. None of us may bear in mind this on the route profile. Still, it was a reasonably simple part with a really brief out and again to to the water cease the place I crammed a 3rd bottle of water prepared for the climb. I’ve no thought how scorching it was now however it felt above 30 levels, though often we’d catch a cooling breeze.

So after accepting that we hadn’t already began climbing to Faulhorn, we now started the climb. It was the hardest to date. Whilst it did really feel marginally steeper than the sooner climbs, I feel it was the warmth which, was vitality sapping, that made this harder. Matt drifted somewhat behind us and Paul powered on forward. I used to be plodding someplace between the 2. Like Matt, I felt it somewhat tougher to breathe with a daily rhythm because the progressive climb took all my vitality. I put it to at least one aspect and centered on maintaining with Paul who was passing folks steadily and getting additional away. I noticed him disappear over the summit as I lagged behind.

Up into Faulhorn there was an enormous Eiger Ultra Trail arch erected on the summit marking our arrival to Faulhorn which we handed by. The views had been spectacular and runners stopped on the platform to take selfies. I noticed Paul a number of metered under on the water station and I went after him.

Initially this support station was to be restricted for water refills, nevertheless, the day earlier than the race the organisers had added extra water right here, in addition to extra water stops within the subsequent part and later someplace in a while within the second half of the route. It was tremendously appreciated and there was even coke out there at Faulhorn. I broke my very own ‘no coke earlier than midway’ rule and knocked some again. It was properly earnt on this warmth I believed.

The speedy descent from the help station was rocky and as soon as once more somewhat extra technical at first. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than we left the rocks behind and began descending right into a valley. After passing a refuge/mountain cafe there was one other rocky part as we continued downhill. We then looped again round with superb views over the Brienzersee lake and throughout to the Hardergrat ridge (which Paul ran alongside a number of weeks earlier). Check it out. It appears to be like spectacular and terrifying in equal measures!

Through this part there have been growing variety of hikers marking the trek in the wrong way from Scheidegg to Faulhorn. We exchanged pleasantries with everybody as we handed. The trails then left the valley behind and levelled out to some beautiful undulating trails with costlier views off into the gap and the paths we’d run earlier within the day. Paul was checking up on Matt they usually agreed we’d meet and wait on the midway mark. It was only a very lengthy descent over about 10 miles to go earlier than we reached there.

First we hit up ‘Egg’, the additional water cease, after which finally some switchbacks to a different mountain lodge the place there have been loads of supporters. As we left there was a household with small youngsters providing excessive fives which I, and all of the runners round us, tremendously indulged in. It’s such a lift to work together with folks when working an extremely. Shortly after there was a person with a hose pipe spraying runners and me and Paul danced within the rain. It was so cooling and refreshing.

Paul and I each began to really feel the necessity for extra water, regardless of the additional cease and carrying an additional bottle we’d been ingesting hundreds (the warmth administration plan was being completely executed to date). It felt like the following cease wasn’t coming anytime quickly fortunately we then spied a faucet / trough on the aspect of a constructing and took benefit, Paul submerging his complete head. As we walked on, happy with our discover, we may see the following support station was only a few hundred metres additional forward. Typical.

From right here we entered the forest, and the descent started to steepen. The trails had been slender and the bottom was affected by lumpy tree roots. It wasn’t simple underfoot and we accepted that is how it will be for fairly a while. After what felt like a number of km of constant rooty downhill working, out of nowhere we began to climb once more. I used to be livid. It couldn’t visualise it on the elevation profile. It hit me laborious. I referred to as out to Paul that I wanted a break. Like hours earlier on the climb to Faulhorn, my respiratory was erratic once more. Every race profile is like this and has these sections the place you’re going downhill however have a ‘hidden’ uphill included (or vice versa). The distance and elevation by no means simply transfers to a small visible elevation profile. It actually messes together with your thoughts generally and, right now, it was messing with me. It took my power and my vitality and I wanted a number of minutes sitting on a rock to regain composure and stick with it. Fucking tree routes!

We had been quickly again within the rhythm after which, for the primary time ever in a race, I hit the deck. I went down like I’d been tasered. Mid-flow I bought cramp in my proper calf and my decrease physique simply seized up. I did 1 / 4 of a flip and simply fell, inflexible and straight, down bouncing off what I believed was my left arm and shoulder. On the ground I then immediately bought cramp in my different calf too and couldn’t rise up. I used to be like a bug on its again flailing my. A runner coming behind referred to as out and I’ve no thought what I mumbled again as I slowly relaxed and clambered again to my toes. It appeared like my left arm had come out and damaged the autumn and I had a number of little indents on my palm from small stones. Somehow regardless of all of the roots I’d fallen on a reasonably clear and comfortable space. Frustratingly although, coated in sweat it was like I’d been dipped in breadcrumbs. My arms and fingers had been coated in soil and I used to be now irritable. I’m amazed I’ve lasted this lengthy with out falling earlier than. With no points or considerations we simply bought again on with it.

I don’t know the way for much longer the downhill carried on for, however there was one final steep part by a area as we approached the midway mark.

I set concerning the full works. Pasta. Potatoe. More coke. Full moist wipe wash. Tshirt change. Sock and shoe change. Fresh hat. Fresh buff and extra meals and tailwind added to the bag. Not lengthy after as we had been on the point of depart, Matt confirmed up. I made a giant mistake right here and led the choice to crack on with out him. We stated we’d wait, and he was bang on schedule for a 22:45hr end. I stated me and Paul wished to try to end in underneath 22 which was the qualifier time for western states. So we left with out him. It was a mistake as, regardless of working the following 50km with out him, he completed solely 10 minutes behind us, bang on that 22:45hr end. Sorry Matt!

From the half approach we had a collection of two huge climbs to beat. The first climb was earlier than the city of venkat. It began with a collection of roads climbing on switchbacks. Here we Met one other Swiss runner in Nicole who was doing her first extremely and chasing that solar 22hr end additionally. We chatted as we climbed earlier than the roads turned into forest tracks once more. They had been rooty, however not as dangerous as earlier than. Some sections the place steep and it was very humid with little wind or breeze reaching us. Occasionally we’d get a burst of solar and see the mountain alongside us. Slowly we tracked across the aspect of it.

There was additionally a short cease the place there was one other water faucet. From right here we had been again into the forests and making our approach down hill to Wegen. One factor that was noticeable right here was that we began seeing numerous volunteers and mountain rescue dotted alongside the course. We had been being very properly Looked after! On the downhill I continued to cramp. I used to be cramping in my ankles and shins which was a complete new bizarre expertise which I don’t know how you can describe. Thankfully nothing too dangerous although.

The city of Wengen was pleasant and I made a word to return and go to at some point, it was very picturesque. We weaved by the help station after accumulating extra water and coke and started the massive climb to Mannlichen which was roughly 1,000m acquire in round 5km. Pretty a lot a vertical Kilometer (VK).

After climbing by some slender again streets of the city, we had been but once more again within the forest. Every time there was a gap I attempted to see the place the hell we had been going, however I couldn’t. I may see the tip aim of Mannlichen on high of the mountain, however I may hardly ever see any runners on the mountain aspect climbing. I used to be so confused. Paul and I agreed to interrupt the climb up. There was the additional support station someplace alongside right here so we agreed to cease once more earlier than and after it. Paul was the time keeper and I used to be keen to check him and push the restrict of how lengthy I may keep sitting down for!

Climbing out of Wengen

We weren’t alone and there have been loads of runners we handed and who handed us. At every cease we bought speaking to Jason, yet one more Irishman, as we leapfrogged one another alongside this part. The route took us throughout the mountain face and thru a collection of snow boundaries constructed to guard the city which was approach down under us now. The breaks, and the water cease, had been tremendously appreciated. As we finally summited a pleasant voice referred to as out and cheered our arrival. Like earlier within the day at First, Maarten was above us supporting and crewing runners reaching the help station. He adopted us into the help station and tended to our wants like a hero. I used to be very hungry once more and slowly ate a Chia Charge flap jack and bear in mind Paul bringing me lumps of chocolate. It was excellent chocolate!

A mid-climb view again right down to Wengen

Up high it was chilly. Very chilly. We mentioned layering up and I acknowledged my stupidity in not bringing my arm sleeves or light-weight wind proof from my midway drop bag. I all the time run with them however for some purpose I purposely didn’t this time. Whilst I knew we’d run into the night time, I suppose I used to be so centered on the warmth of the day that I didn’t suppose they might be wanted. It wasn’t an issue although as I had an extended sleeve high and a water-proof jacket in my bag, so I definitely wouldn’t be getting too chilly. We cracked on, understanding that we’d heat up after we started working once more. And boy did we run…

We acknowledged that we’d ‘damaged the again of the beast’ now. There had been no extra aggressive climbs to return our approach and we had been in all probability 3/4 of our approach by the gap by now. It was an enormous increase. What made it higher was that the paths had been very huge, clean and it was a really mild downhill. It felt like we had been working so quick for a number of km as we had been working straight towards the Eiger’s north face which was coated in cloud. What a sight it was.

All good issues come to an finish although, and so did the straightforward downhill as we then turned away from Grindelwald and headed off-track for an additional (comparatively) little climb. It was somewhat punchy and I bear in mind passing a great deal of cows right here. I used to be continuously seeking to my left and throughout to the Eiger the place I may see there have been so many trails, however I couldn’t see a single runner on any of them. Once once more I used to be disoriented and I had no thought the place we had been going. I knew we’d come again alongside the Eiger in direction of Grindelwald someplace, however I simply couldn’t see the place. The tracks stored twisting and turning and my sense of course was getting somewhat tousled. Eventually we dropped down and joined a large gravel path once more, crossed a prepare observe and walked up a delicate hill in direction of the following support station.

Paul and the cows

There was a runner right here squatting down taking an image of the Eiger reflecting in a small pond. As painful because it was, we stopped and indulged for a similar image. It was value it.

Worth the discomfort of a mid race squat

We had been quickly on the subsequent support station. This was fairly probably one of the best location of any support station I’ve ever been too. It was inside a prepare depot. It was getting darkish and colder exterior however inside it was so heat and smelt of oil. I liked it. Here we discovered some heat broth which was precisely the salty delight I wanted. Sitting, consuming, I seemed round and seen it was somewhat like a medical centre with quite a few runners sleeping or receiving medical consideration.

Train depot support station!

After a great quarter-hour or so, we left and headed again out for a brief little downhill earlier than climbing once more to the Eiger Glacier. We handed a runner who was being sick however whom signalled he was okay. Then, moments later as we began to climb he sprinted handed us and continued to run the uphill. I couldn’t perceive his miraculous restoration! It was round 9:30 now and our head torches had been on because the final of the sunshine began to go away us.

The climb as much as Eiger Glacier was powerful going. It was a combination of dry path (with extra cows lining the observe!) and little rocky sections. In elements it was steep with some slender switchback trails earlier than an extended climb on a small ridge. It was one other gradual climb and one which slowly chipped away at our depleting vitality ranges. We took one other second on the high earlier than starting the descent in direction of the end. It was a really lengthy descent of round 1,200m over 10km kilometres again in direction of Grindelwald.

It was now apparent why, hours earlier, I couldn’t see any runners on any of the paths. We had been tucked proper up shut on the mountain face. To our left the mountain dropped away on lengthy scree slopes. Way off to our left headlights of runners descending type Mannlichen could possibly be seen.

The trails had been runnable. Not as good because the preliminary descent from Mannlichen however the rocks had been properly trodden and flattened to the observe for essentially the most half. As we ran, we had been in silence and all we may hear had been the numerous, many waterfalls falling from the Eiger which we’d cross one after the opposite. After what felt like an extended few kilometre of regular plodding the enjoyable sound of water began growing and changing into extra ferocious. There was one large waterfall completely gushing from the mountain and the sound was thunderous. From right here we started descending at a steeper fee on a collection of more and more extra rocky switchbacks. Surprisingly my toes had been holding up very properly. I really feel the paths had been extremely simple going and forgiving on this route contemplating we had been working in such a mountainous space. The quads had been positively feeling it now although and the fatigue was kicking in!

For some time, Paul and I had been discussing what remained of the route. I recalled one huge climb as soon as we bottomed out from this descent. We’d heard combined studies of the elevation starting from 200m to 600m. We didn’t know. What we did know was that we didn’t desire a 600m climb! We quickly reached the following support station, and I clocked the elevation profile on a board. My coronary heart sank somewhat as I noticed we nonetheless had loads of descending to go in addition to one other small climb earlier than one other a lot greater one. Paul requested for particulars and once more a brand new quantity was thrown out about how huge the final climb was “perhaps 400m”. A bit deflated, we carried on with the remaining descent which was now on highway (which didn’t make it any simpler at this stage!).

Finally, we levelled out and started the final 10km or so of the route which might see us run parallel to Grindelwald, passing it earlier than looping again and down into the city. From right here we may see the end line within the city. It is annoying seeing a end line throughout a race and heading in the wrong way, and this time was no completely different, particularly as we had been working ever so slowing now.

We started the little climb, though it went on and on and I clocked one other 200m. Here the paths had been very technical forest trials, but once more (and unsurprisingly) affected by roots as soon as extra. Our temper was sinking however we knew we simply needed to hold shifting. After one other hour or so we reached a small little support station. Paul questioned the gap and vertical acquire right here too and we obtained a much more beneficial response of “280m”. This was good. I perked up and and cracked numerous jokes to the volunteers. I felt like I used to be on stage and completely killing it. They had been in all probability simply wishing I’d depart already. Eventually we did.

As we progressed alongside the 280m climb, a number of runners caught and handed us. We stored our heads down and moved alongside and we’re joined by one other runner whom we chatted to on the final cease. He was craving a little bit of firm within the night time. Pretty a lot bang on 280m we arrived at Feinsteing. I used to be impressed. If something, the basis marking and distance markers had been distinctive all through. The trails had devoted Eiger Ultra Trail flags, glow sticks, arrows on the bottom, reflective paint all through and even Eiger Ultra Trail particular path indicators. At each 5km/10km marker my watch had been just about in sync too. I’ve by no means had that earlier than. Although Paul would argue in a different way along with his Suunto (similar mannequin) clocking barely longer. Anyway, from right here it was about 4km downhill on highway to the city with a small uphill in direction of the tip to hitch the principle avenue the place all of it started.

We begrudgingly left the consolation of the ultimate support station, acknowledging {that a} Western States qualifying time was past us now. There’s no approach we had been clocking a 30min 5km tempo (even downhill) after working all day. We calculated that the 4km remaining would take extra like 40mins. The downhill and roads weren’t notably gratifying. Now my toes had been hurting after that final technical part and I wasn’t having fun with the toes slapping sensation like we felt all the way in which again on the primary descent some 20 hours earlier.

We had been trudging alongside by a camp website after we noticed the following path marker signal. It stated 100km. We couldn’t consider it. That crept up on us out of nowhere. It labored us up and with somewhat moaning we powered by the final little climb again to the Main Street. Thankfully we merged additional down than our lodge so didn’t must run handed it! We emerged onto the road to cheers from some supporters out late within the night time after which picked up the tempo as we completed the course. The final little shock being the very steep finishers bridge into the end line. The threat of falling with our drained legs giving approach was in all probability fairly excessive! Thankfully we didn’t tumble for the digicam. Seconds later we crossed the end line. We’d finished it. As Eiger E101 finishers we had been handed our little piece of the Eiger – a rock from the moutain as our medal. I find it irresistible, however proper then i used to be sick of the rocks!

Finish line smiles

Without understanding or realising, as we went into the sports activities centre to gather our baggage, Matt snuck handed and completed only a few minutes after us. What a man. Such constant working all day!

The Eiger rock

Source link