It’s been 2 months since The Zermatt Ultra Marathon and I’m dying for a new goal. I have been researching European races, initially thinking there is no way I can go back to Switzerland.  I looked at several, but none really got me fired up.

I am itching to do another mountain marathon. I am itching to go back to Switzerland. I am really not interested in one of those “crazy” ultra races (the ones where you run >24 hours including at night with headlamps on) but I do want another challenge so it’s got to be longer and/or higher, and ideally as beautiful as Zermatt or the Jungfrau. In researching mountain marathons, I came across this blog post:

I had read some of Christian’s reports before but this one he just wrote after the Zermatt Marathon 2014 so obviously I hadn’t seen it in my prior research. I knew mountain marathons were tougher than flat ones (it’s pretty obvious) but what I didn’t know is that there is actually a scientific formula to calculate their equivalent distance over a flat course. Using this formula, the Zermatt Ultra Marathon 45.5 kms would equal 69.5 flat kms. Wow. Good thing I didn’t see that before I ran it!

So am I going to sign up for a flat 70k? Hells, no.  I have a better plan.

In 2013, the year after I ran the Jungfrau, a new race was born in the Jungfrau region – the Eiger Ultra Trail with 3 distances – a 101k (crazy >24 hours with headlamps on!), a 51k, and a 16k.  The E51 is exactly what I am looking for.  A little longer and a little higher than the Zermatt Ultra, and back in my favourite place.  I thought about doing the Jungfrau Marathon again, but when I saw this one, I was sold. In the shadow of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau peaks, but most of it is on the Grindelwald side so not on the same trails as the Jungfrau.

With +/- 3,100m of elevation, and 51kms, I am NOT going to do the math of the flat race equivalent until I am done!

Eiger E51 trail profile

I haven’t had to train for downhills yet so that will be a new challenge I will look forward to. And in true Swiss fashion, there are of course checkpoints along the way to boot slow people off the course and hope I avoid that once again. The total time allowed to complete the 51k race is 14 hours. Considering I did 45k at Zermatt in 7.5 hours, I’m guessing this one is going to be a wee bit tougher.

But how can I not do this. Seriously.