The last (and only) time I was in Switzerland was during my year abroad in France (many moons ago) as a third-year undergraduate student. And what a waste. We drove straight through without stopping, bee-lining it straight for Germany's Black Forest and the steins that awaited us there. This time around we're doing it up proper.
Scott Jaime and I flew out together on Wednesday, arriving to Geneva early Thursday morning. From the plane we had a stunning view of the Geneva valley with snow-capped Alpine peaks and the mighty Mont Blanc standing out in glorious Technicolor against the bluebird skies to the south. The two hour train ride east up the Rhone Valley was even more remarkable. I thought I had it good in Colorado, but wow, these here Alps are pretty spectacular. Jagged angles, burly ridges, huge glaciers, and dreamy amounts of vertical relief. Hog heaven.
And then we hit Sierre, transferred to a bus, and then another bus as we made our way up the tight and Colorado-esque Valais through immaculate Alpine Swiss villages to Zinal. And wow again. The skyline here is just phenomenal.
Before we had time to close our agape jaws we were being whisked off by our incredibly gracious hosts to a Raclette feast with a jazz ensemble, wine, cold cuts and oozing amounts of deliciously runny cheese from cows that had been feeding off the wildflowers 1,000 feet above us. And there was Young Money Dakota Jones putting away a glass of wine and his fair share of the local produce. That afternoon we were off up into the hills for an entirely too-long run, but what can you do when surrounded by such beauty. Another feeding and then we crashed hard for 13 hours.
Friday has been much the same - savoring views, running gorgeous and incredibly steep trails, eating delicious food and just generally having a wonderful time. I don't want to draw unnecessary comparisons between the US and Europe when it comes to putting on races, but let's just say that Scott, Dakota and I have been feeling astoundingly spoiled and incredibly thankful for the honest and gracious hospitality we have received here. Our Swiss hosts are from a different cut.
Anyway, in the two days that we've been here I've also been able to catch up with some of the other members of 'Equipe USA' on behalf of RunColo.com, including Max King, Joe Gray (coming), Glen Randall, Megan Lund, and Brandy Erholtz. Oh, and Ultra Boys Dakota Jones and Scott Jaime, in addition to a ditto with me.
We race tomorrow and then we'll drink and be merry, before we head south into France to assume residence in Chamonix in search of a couple more weeks of Alpine adventures.
One more thing. Here's a recent interview I did with the guys over at InsideTrail, a new site dedicated to trail racing.