Big Races & Bad Ideas II: Eiger Ultra Trail

Published in Running - 3 mins to read

In bad news, I did not get a place in the lottery for the big ultra next summer. In good news of infinitely greater magnitude, I got a place anyway, through a package with a local hotel. The race in question is the Eiger Ultra Trail, specifically the E101 route, so named because it is 101km long - in addition to 6700m of vert. I hiked Ben Nevis in September, and this is basically the same thing, just five times over, with a half marathon tacked on at the end for fun.

Facetiousness aside, this is obviously going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Before I even get to the start line, training for it is going to require discipline and consistency that I’ve never been able to display for this length of time. I need to improve in almost every way possible - I’ll need a much better aerobic base, a significantly stronger core as well as stronger legs and more stable ankles, I’ll have to lose a decent chunk of weight, I’ll have to learn the correct technique for using poles, and I’ll need to learn how to problem solve and stay safe in the mountains while I’m at it. I will have to prepare my mind to push my body to its absolute limits. Currently my optimistic goal is to finish within the Western States qualifiying time of 22 hours, and my realistic goal is simply to finish within the cut-off time of 25 hours. If I were to try to be objective about it, my chances of success right now are low, and if I get injured at any point in the next month, they will rapidly be approaching zero.

But… this race is all I can think about. Ever since I had the idea of doing it a month ago, it’s what I’ve thought about before going to sleep at night and it’s what pops into my brain right after the sound of my alarm clock in the morning. It’s already in danger of jeopardising my newly-minted relationship because I won’t talk or think about anything else. This race is perfect. It’s in a place that was once second in familiarity to me only to Guernsey, and somewhere that I’ve wanted to go back to for a few years now. It will be beautiful in a way that will defy words. It will be something that drives me to drastically improve my physical, and hopefully mental, health. It will be, as they say, something to tell my grandchildren about. But none of that is really why I care about this race. I care about it because it is going to be brutally, savagely, unforgivingly hard. It will push me to my very limit, to places I’ve never been before, and potentially places I didn’t know existed within me at all. And in so doing, when every one of the comforts of life have been stripped away, and all that is left is me, alone on the mountain; then I will understand my true nature, who I am.

I mean, I could probably go and do a three week silent meditation retreat or something to have the same result, but my way sounds more fun.

See other posts in the Marathons series