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Swiss Iron Trail- Becky Nixon race report

Becky Nixon gives a rundown on the highs and lows of taking part in the 200km Swiss Iron Trail. I am writing this report as I sit at the top of Piz Noir (3057m) in St Moritz, Switzerland, having taken the cable car up and having a cup of peppermint tea, quite different from a couple of days ago, running the Swiss Irontrail – 200km and 11400m vert! I arrived in Davos 6 days before race day to acclimatize to the altitude, relax and work on my uneven tan after a weeks training block running around UTMB course with Hywel Dinnick. Rego is always quite intimidating for me, everyone looks so hard out and professional, I always feel out of my league and scruffy. I arrived at rego on a borrowed bike- cycling on the opposite side of road, with no helmet, short denim shorts and flip flops on my feet. We are given 3 drop bags, for 55km, 135km and the finish line. Then I am back on the bike to home to pack my stuff for the morning. Race day….. I awake up feeling excited, ready, rested and pretty much prepared for the biggest challenge of my ultra running missions! Back on the bike to the start- a great warm up to the start line. Adrenaline pumping….. this is it, here we go again! Waahooo! Ok so the first major climb put me in my place straightaway…. man it felt tough from 1500m to2739m, with heaps of people overtaking me and I couldn’t keep up… shit! I knew right then it was gonna be a lot harder then I originally thought… the food I’d prepared- salami and cheese wasn’t going down to good, Ii felt sick and didn’t want to eat. I  felt reasonably strong but just felt tired and couldn’t get my breath under control, doubts set in, trained enough/over trained? Eaten enough/eaten too much? I crawled to the top and then belted down hill as fast as I could to make up time, my downhills felt effortless and was able to pass a lot of people, feeling good and the views were amazing- I was back on a high. Aid stations were epic- so much food and support. I kept seeing the same runner at each station and it was good to chat. I would rock up to a station and be greeted- ‘hi Becky’ and ‘your crazy running downhill’. I changed my food plan to bread and cheese as that was the only thing I wanted to eat and felt good. The beginning of my 1st night was hard. I’d come to the realization that I couldn’t race this ultra, just to finish was going to be an achievement. The climb up to Chamanna segantini 2731m 64k was a bitch, the steepest longest so far! I lost it, felt like quitting, what is the point this is torture! So I texted my coach in New Zealand, he managed to say the right things and away I went again, think I just needed to whinge then I felt better. This is pretty much how the race went for me- uphill hating life wanting it to be over, then at the top of a pass life couldn’t get any better! Downhill- woohoooo, yeah man, this is awesome move out the way boys I’m passing and feeling like a fricken boss! Up hill….. oh fuck here we go. Becky hail Day 2 we had heavy rain and thunderstorms and I was up high for the majority of it, nothing you can do but head down, keep moving as fast as you can to get to the bottom and out the clouds. Finally reaching the bottom after the big downhill I was fatigue and tiredness started to kick in….at this point I got my 2nd drop bag in Savognin,135km in and sat next to the familiar faces of Pierre and his friend. Pierre couldn’t understand any English and didn’t have a clue what the hell I was saying but I still chatted away. Even though we couldn’t talk speak the same language we still under stood what each other was going through, these boys stayed with me while I struggled and was in the biggest slump we didn’t say anything but they didn’t leave me until we got close to Lenzerheide at 160k. This is where the good shit happened! The doctor taped my blistered feet up and gave me some magnesium to inhale. My legs felt good after this, pfftttti don’t need to sleep- lets go. Bad idea. The next climb up to Hornlihutte took forever. Don’t laugh but I walked up to what I thought was a guy in the middle of nowhere with a highvis on at stupid o’clock in the morning and asked if the top was far away? Only to the realisation that it was the back of a ski truck. It didn’t stop there- shapes everywhere, I saw people, only to realise it was trees. I crawled to the aid station atop of the climb, had a 10 power nap and boom energy! I smashed the next 15 k to the last climb…. hell we’ve got to get up that? I cried the full way up….. but the 5k of downhill that followed was the best downhill of my life! I let myself completely go and it felt like I was flying- the best feeling ever! Would I do this race again? Mmmm maybe. Would I do a bigger distance? Hell yes/ Lessons learnt…. never under estimate an ultra, no matter how tough it is! Quitting is not an option -the body can deal with a lot of shit! Sleep is important even 20min powernap, and always have backup food! Also, make sure you position yourself behind a nice tight bum in lycra, it pushes you to keep up. I saw Pierre cross the finish line, I ran up to him and we hugged and kissed to congratulate each other. This is what I love about ultra running and this is why I continue to keep putting my body through hell…. everyone looks out for each other and knows exactly what the other person is going through without saying a word, the bonds you make with people on the course is crazy, I love it and it makes me want to go back and experience it all again. You forget about the pain and lows as soon as you cross the finish line as the highs are much more memorable. Next sufferfest- Northburn 100 miler this March, with a few cheeky 100kers in-between.


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