After the last fast marathon trips, this time around the travel is further, and so I will try to combine sports and tourism. With a Friday night arrival, and a return on Tuesday morning this gives 3 full days in destination, plenty of time to run the marathon and do some extra stuff around Switzerland. A cheap flight bought well in advance is compensating the steep registration price, 120€, at the level of Berlin for example, and almost twice those of Madrid or Barcelona, but this is Switzerland. Saturday is the day chosen to pick up the number in the Saalsport Hall Sports centre, located 30 minutes walking to downtown, that gives time to check the start/finish area, located in the surroundings (Mythenquai). Strangely the number could also be picked earlier on the race day, between 6 and 8am, and then take a free shuttle bus to the start area, although being with plenty of time there is no need to add unnecessary stress just before the race. Runner expo is quite small, even when considering that with the marathon, that starts at 8.30 am, is taking also place a relay marathon starting at 8.37, and a 10k race at 8.43. There is almost full absence of other races stands, as it happens with most of the typical running brands so present in these events. To add some difficulty the information is sometimes uniquely in German, as happened with the emails after registration, but nothing you cannot get by.
With the number in my possession, I take advantage of the pasta party that was happening at that time, doing an unexpected picnic in the gardens surrounding the centre. The end of the evening is an ideal time to visit the quiet streets of Zurich and get some information for the upcoming trip to the mountains planned for Monday.
On the race morning a small tram trip gets to the Burkiplatz area, where only a small walk gets to the start/finish area, in the left-hand side of the lake. A bit further is the clothes depot. With sunny weather and quite hot for this time of the day we start the race, heading quickly to the town centre, with the Burkiplatz area as central point, as we will run through it a few times until km 12, when we cross to the other side of the lake. From then on, we will be leaving Zurich behind, until the 25k marker, in Meilen village, when we will change direction to get back to Zurich, and later to the finish line, but there is still a lot of time before that. Previously to leaving Zurich the first runners from the relay marathon are passing ahead. Temperature is slowly rising, and probably because my lack of attention the first marker I see is the one indicating km 17. Race had been going easily, losing the time sense. I take my first delayed gel, that usually I take in km 12. From that point on I keep better track of the markers. The race is going through a wide road in residential neighbours in the outskirts of Zurich, and will be the same road we will follow to return to Zurich. There is no much public, and it is in this area when the 3.30 group goes ahead. After the km 30, the 3.45 group also gets ahead, but I cannot find energy to follow it either. The time will not be the best, although is not the most important. Once again in the Burkiplatz area, and just in the last moments of the race more people are in the street. We only must take the commercial Bahnhofstrasse street, until the train station, and head back to the finish line. Time 3.52.30, in summer conditions (even for Switzerland) in 949 place out of 1830 male finishers (and 427 women). Time to rest in the gardens around the finish line, and even to get a nap. Already halfway through the 2018 Grand Slam, it looks that the 12 marathons planned are a bit closer now.
Score: 4.5 (out of 5)
Pros: 1 lap flat course; everything accessible on foot, or with travel arrangements offered by the organisation
Cons: lack of criteria in the drinks stations (random content of glasses, from water to isotonic drinks or cola refreshments); information sometimes only in German