In five years of running races, marathons and ultras I’ve always crossed the finish line I signed up for. That ended early this morning. My hopes were high going into Biel, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect, the atmosphere was electric and contagious. The Bieler 100 was going to be one of my great races… and it started that way. Out of the starting line I quickly found a nice tempo that I knew would get me over the finish line in roughly 10 hours. I was optimistic that everything was going to go as planned. Running through Aarberg, the half-marathon mark and about kilometer 20 for the 100km folks, I was right on target. By the way, Aarberg has my vote for prettiest town in Switzerland, it’s even prettier than Gruyere.
At around kilometer 25, running through a field at the edge of a forest in the full moon light my right ankle started hurting and not five minutes later it was my left thigh. I was stiffening up, and despite massages (me rubbing my thigh) and stretching everything was getting stiffer. My ankle has been a problem for about a month now and while I thought it was all better, it clearly was not. I tried to maintain my tempo to the marathon mark (about kilometer 38 for the 100km runners) but by kilometer 38 all I could do was walk quickly. The infamous Christoph passed me here with a healthy paced speed walk.
As I crossed the time-measuring mat I went directly to first aid. Ankle should be fine, but need to rest it a little longer. Their advice echoed my sentiments – quit while you’re ahead.
I’ve never ended a race early, so this is a bitter pill, but I take it without regrets. I’ve read and heard that you don’t know where your limits are until you fail, I think I found mine. 24 hours of fitness and 6 days later an ultra is too much for me…for now. The good thing is that I like to push the boundaries, and now that I know where they are, I should be able to push appropriately. I’m also learning to listen. Last week Marco Amici told me that my body will probably take at least one and a half weeks to recover from 24 hours of fitness, even if I feel fine. Fact is, the deep stuff in your body just needs more time. I should have heeded his advice.
Do I regret stopping early? No, I’m signed up for plenty of races this year and I would not want to sacrifice them for the painful glory of finishing one race that could possibly leave me with more physical damage than can be healed quickly.
Will I race in Biel again? Absolutely. The course is fantastic. It’s country roads, fields, forests and villages all under the full moon. A totally unique race, and they’ve been doing it for 56 years. Now to go and watch the 100km finishers start to come in.
Cheering on the finishers in the morning the organizers of the event pointed out that 100km is not easy to do even if you walk it. In true sporting fashion, everyone who crossed the finish line achieved their own personal victory. Here are the fastest runners from the Bieler 100 2014. Congratulations.
1. Denise Zimmermann, 1975, CH-Mels 8:30.58 (26)
2. Gabriele Wertmüller, 1974, CH-Zuchwil 8:46.03 (21)
3. Lucilia Delpedro, 1962, CH-Payerne 9:01.17 (22)
1. Michael Boch, 1981, FR-Saverne 7:20.23 (1342)
2. Michael Kaufmann, 1968, CH-Dürnten 7:46.28 (42)
3. Bernhard Eggenschwiler, 1985, CH-Büsserach 7:48.08 (548)
Basic Info Marathon: