Today was an unusual day for us. It was not only cloudy but raining. But there was an exiting event that went right through Wengen to distract us and provide a very enjoyable day..
The Jungfrau Marathon has been held every year at the beginning of September since 1993 and is one of the most famous mountain marathons in the world. It starts at the Grand Hotel Victoria Jungfrau in Interlaken. The route then leads from Wilderswil, via Lauterbrunnen and Wengen to the Kleine Scheidegg where the runners reach the finish line facing the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
The runners climb over 6000 feet (1,829 m) with a stretch of 305 m downwards) One of the downhill exceptions is last kilometer to the finish line. The difference in altitude is a challenge for everybody. There is no other Marathon in Europe with such great dimensions. There are 5000 people who are allowed to sign up to do this race – 5000 people from over 60 countries who want to run 6000 feet uphill.
We dressed for rain and stood right outside our hotel room and watched the first runners pass by in front of the hotel. This was the 1st runner – #105.
We watched several others go by.
Then Shirley caught a photo of the back of the 1st woman runner to pass. She was sure right up there (no further back than about 10th) with the men.
When this next woman ran through Wengen, they announced that she had won the Jungfrau 25 years ago.
It was raining enough that Shirley and I decided to forgo hiking today and took the train back up to Kleine Scheidegg to see the runners come into the finish line.
We could see some of the runners go by on the trail from the train window.
We could see one of the watering stations from the train.
When we got off of the train, we decided to get a cup of hot chocolate because we thought the train would have beat the runners by a long shot because the runners had 22 km (13.67 miles) more uphill to run and we were on a train. We were wrong.
We still went to the finish line to watch. It was fun seeing them come in. This man was one of the ones that we saw come through Wengen. Shirley asked him if he wanted his photo, but he declined because he was 12 minutes behind from the last time he did this race. Here are both photos of him.
They gave each runner a medal, a rain poncho, and a beer. I don’t think I have seen that in the U.S.
The runners also pick up their shirts and candy at the very end.
Shirley and I then took the train to Grindelwald. Shirley realized that she had left her gloves up above so she asked the people at the train station to call up to Klein Scheidegg where she had bought a pretzel and see if they could be found. They kept saying that it would not be possible but Shirley kept asking them over and over again. They finally called the right people and found her gloves. So we walked around Grindelwald for about an hour and her gloves were delivered by somebody on the next train. Yea. We were going to explore Grindelwald anyway.
This is the one photo I took in Grindelwald. I liked the building and the way the made the sign under the building look like mountains.
A very good part of our delay in Grindelwald was the treat for Shirley on our train back to Interlaken on our way back to Wengen. She was sitting right next to the winner of the race.
His friend took a photo of the two of them. What fun.
His name is José David Cordona. He is from Columbia. The amazing thing is that he finished this very difficult, uphill race in 2 hours 56 minutes and 20.7 seconds. That is so hard to believe.
By the way, the woman who came in 1st place (Maude Mathys who is from from Switzerland) actually finished 9th overall in 3 hours 12 minutes and 56 seconds. The woman who finished 2nd (Michelle Maier from Bavaria) finished 3 hours 23 minutes and 7.3 seconds. And that woman who won the race 25 years ago (Petra Eggenschwiller from Switzerland) came in 3rd in 3 hours 35 minutes and 8.5 seconds. These women are astounding. Actually every one of these racers are astounding. How can anybody run uphill for 26.2 miles.
All in all it was a very fun day. We went out for pizza for dinner. Probably going to rain again tomorrow. I have to remind myself that we are Oregonians. We just don’t like seeing rain in the forecast for the rest of our time here. We have had such a great time so far that we will still be happy.