Race: Eiger 101k – https://www.eigerultratrail.ch/en/
Runner: Stephanie G
Location: Grindelwald, Switzeralnd
Results – 189 overall out of 561 starters/405 finishers. 24th woman out of 88 starters/50 finishers
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
The scenery was amazing all day long. I really can’t even begin to describe it.
The aid stations were wonderful. Even if there was a language barrier, everyone did as much as they could to help you.
The course in general. Very challenging, but with some fun downhills. I also felt completely safe the whole time, even alone at night.
There was often the sound of cowbells in the background – from actual cows! ????
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
The 51k racers joined the course at one point for quite awhile. They were much fresher and faster and the constant passing was a little mentally discouraging.
In my experience – people really didn’t want to let you pass! It was much different than any race I’ve done in the US where people will sometimes offer, and almost always move over if you ask. I had a couple people step aside without me asking, a few more that moved over when I asked, and many who didn’t change a thing they were doing when I asked.
Weird in a good way – almost all the aid stations were in/at buildings, which meant actual bathrooms everywhere!
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
I really tried to start out slow. It helped that the distance and the amount of climbing both were intimidating to me, so I really didn’t want to get it wrong. There were several of my friends also doing the race, and I ran with my boyfriend and another friend for about the first 30k, which made the time fly by. I felt like the conservative start and being able to take my mind off things for the first 1/3 of the race helped make things easier later. I felt great on the later downhills (from about 85k on) and passed a lot of people who looked like they were in a lot of pain. The last 5k was the easiest part of the race, and I was happy that I was in a position to still be able to run it.
I also managed to do pretty well on fueling. I made myself eat and drink from the start, and though I had some nauseous times, I never felt low on energy from lack of fuel (the hills took care of that).
Stay near the start. It made race morning (and post-race) so easy.
Be ready to climb and climb and climb.
Poles might be helpful? Others sure seemed to think so.
There was no option to leave any clothes at the start/finish area, but I put some in my drop bag (which returned to the finish line long before I did) so I’d have some dry clothes to change into at the end.
The aid stations are so close that I rarely needed more than .5 L of water at a time.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Work on my glutes for climbing!
I would have put my jacket in a plastic bag after I took it off in the morning, It got soaked with sweat being in my pack all day and I couldn’t have used it at night if I had wanted to.
Lots of runners had their numbers pinned to their pack, which I eventually did too. It was nice since clothes may change, but the pack won’t.
So pretty. I could share 1000 pictures, but I’ll spare you.
Difficulty – is it a tough course
So difficult. The climbs just kept coming and coming. And they were big. Even the ones that didn’t look like they would be big felt big. That got discouraging sometimes, but makes me more proud of completing it in the end.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
I thought it was really well run. Packet pick up was a breeze, the aid stations were awesome and the course markings were great. The only thing that was a little difficult was the pre-race “mandatory” briefing. It was in German and English and I’m still not sure what they covered in the 30 minutes they talked. All I came away with was we would probably want poles (didn’t bring them) and didn’t need snowshoes (uh.. phew).
Competition – is there a strong field?
Seemed very strong with lots of sponsored runners
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
I think it sold out within a couple weeks of registration opening. There seem to be 1000 places to stay in Grindelwald, but I think the race does fill all of them up pretty well. We had a 5 minute walk to the start/finish area which was really, really nice.
Really great, and usually pretty close together (5-10k apart… although with some of the climbs, that could take awhile). There was usually water, Coke, broth, and a European brand sports drink (I didn’t care for it) to drink. Most aid stations had food – bars (a European brand that was pretty good), oranges, bananas, peanuts, dried apricots, chips, cheese and chocolate were pretty typical.
Weather and typical race conditions
This was only the 4th year of the race. Last year’s pictures looked sunny and warm. The week before the race this year was cold and snowed in the mountains. Race day was perfect – forecast was for ~70 and sunny. The few days after the race it was in the mid 80s, and then the forecast was for thunderstorms. So… I’d say it could probably be pretty variable. I wasn’t expecting snow at all. I don’t think I would have done anything differently, but I guess it’s good to consider all possibilities.
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
I think the only people not using poles were from the US. I can see how they’d help on the climbs, but liked having my hands free too. It kind of felt like I was surrounded by people with weapons.
There is a required gear list, but I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the exact specifications of things (ie how big the bandage is), their gear check was pretty superficial.
There are several spots where spectators can ride gondolas up to watch. It might get kind of pricey trying to see more than one spot though.
Top 3 men and women (I think)
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
5+ for super organization, beautiful course, great support, and just an overall great experience.