Right after Derek and I booked our tickets for Switzerland, Ashley asked if I wanted to run a 10K the Saturday of our visit. My first international race? Hell yeah!
She immediately sent the registration link, but since everything was in French, I gave up trying to register about 5 minutes into the process. Luckily Ashley noticed my name wasn’t on the registration list and was able to send a more direct link a few weeks later. This time I was able to stumble my way through the registration process and even managed to pay through PayPal – I <3 that they accepted PayPal!
The registration process was a little different than with U.S. races. The questions were straight to the point (name, address, birthdate – done!), there wasn’t a waiver I had to sign (at least, I’m pretty sure I never saw a waiver?), and the price of the 10K was relatively cheap compared to races over here (the total came to $30 USD – not bad if you ask me). The registration process was separated by female and male registration categories, and instead of separating age groups by age, they’re separated by birth year.
I casually glanced at the start time during the registration process and for some reason I thought I saw 10:00am, which is a pretty late start for a race in Florida terms, but not entirely unusual. It wasn’t until we were figuring out race logistics on Friday that Ashely told me the 10K actually started at 2:30pm. What? 2:30pm?! That’s different.
As I discovered Thursday morning, the Swiss are generally not the biggest fans of early morning runs, therefore the majority of local races have afternoon starts. Honestly, it was a nice relief to not have to rush to the race start. The four of us slept in, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and even spent some time at the local Farmer’s Market gathering items for the next night’s meal.
We headed towards the race start around noon and arrived with plenty of time to collect our bibs and warm-up in the school gym before the start.
With just over 500 participants, the race was on the smaller side. We were told the course was flat (lies!) and that the men and women would start at the same time (the majority of local races have a separate start time for the men and women – some races even have separate distances). We also discovered there was not going to be any water stops along the course. Since it was a cold day, I was hopeful that wasn’t going to be a problem (it wasn’t).
We arrived at the start line about 10 minutes before the go-time and did a bit a people watching. Apparently men running in tight capris is completely normal in Europe. Noted.
At 2:30 the countdown began and we were off. I wasn’t expecting much for this race. I hadn’t run longer than 6 miles since June, I was feeling under the weather, it was freezing, and it was an afternoon race – not my ideal race conditions. However, I was running a race in freaking Switzerland and that was pretty epic.
Running Bucket List
– Run an international race – CHECK!
Ashley and I started the race together, but I knew she was gunning for a PR (spoiler alert – she got it!) and I was only gunning to make it to the finish line. About a km in to the race I pulled over to tie my shoe and told her to give the race hell. She took off and ran a fantastic race (Go Ashley!), while I tried my best to finish.
I discovered quickly the course wasn’t as flat as advertised. It was full of gradual rolling hills that felt like we were going more up than down. It was cloudy and cold, my nose was running, my chest burned, and my lips were helplessly chapped. I pushed myself when I could and indulged in a handful of walking breaks when I needed them.
I ran this race sans Garmin, so I spent the majority of the it playing mind games with myself on how far I thought I’d gone and how long it’d taken me. There were kilometer markers every two kilometers and I silently cried to myself every time I saw one, assuming I had run so much farther. It felt like the longest 10k of my life. I also spent a lot of the race doing bad conversion math in my head (so I’ve run 6km, that means I have 4km left… if a 5k is 3.1 miles, then 4k means I have about 2.5 miles left, right?).
We finally hit a clearing and I could see the familiar blue arch from the start in the distance. Finally, the finish! Then I saw the runners ahead of me continue to run through the blue arch and realized it was not the finish line, just a big tease. Instead I had to go under the blue arch, around the school track, and THEN the red line for the finish. That final lap around the track was just evil.
Woo hoo! I made it! My first international race is in the bag! Worth it!
Ashley and Bo had great races as well. Ashley earned her PR and Bo ran a very respectable time considering this is his first race back since his ACL surgery. Go team!
The race dead ended into a line for post-race treats. Instead of water and Gatorade, I was surprised to see cups of hot tea, hot wine, chocolate pastries, and whole apples waiting for finishers. I grabbed a cup of hot tea and really enjoyed it – who knew a cup of hot tea would taste so great after a chilly 10k run?
After a quick change, our group headed over the border to France (!) to catch the sunset above the clouds on top of Le Salève.
The drive up was a bit scary, but the view from the top was amazing.
We decided to celebrate with dinner out (our only dinner out the whole trip!). Ashley and Bo introduced us to one of their favorite restaurants in Geneva , Le Crise, for delicious French food.
I had the escargot, which were buttery, full of flavor, and absolutely amazing.
And the lamb shank, which was also melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Overall it was a great meal with great company.
Stay tuned for Part III!
Have you ever run an international race? What were the major differences you noticed?