Sierre-Zinal Adventure

My friend Penelope planted the seed during Broken Arrow Skyrace that I had to come out and see her run and hang at Sierre-Zinal since I’d already be in Chamonix then prepping for UTMB. It would be a good opp to support her and cheer on others racing. TBH, I’m still a bit of a noob when it comes to these big Euro races (okay, big trailrunning races in general). As I experience them – whether racing or spectating, I’m becoming more of fan. How could you not? I’ve made it point to not only support the sport I’m into but the athletes as well. Still learning who the top runners are but my friends Krissi and Mike are a big help! So they were pretty excited when I suggested we go check out the race. After all, they knew much more about it than me! So on Saturday, we made plans to head out of Chamonix and adventure to Sierre…

We knew the elites had an 11am start time so we were thinking no problem getting there in time from Cham. The reality was we had to wake up early and roll out by 7am. Originally thought I’d go solo and take the train all the way but with Mike and Usha having a car we opted to drive to Martigny and train in from there thinking parking would be non-existent and traffic a nightmare. In retrospect, we probably could have driven all the way to Sierre. But then what fun would that be? I love the train!

After a couple lattes in the town of Sierre, watching runners prep, a lot of debating and looking at bus schedules and chatting with others, we decided to head to the finish in Zinal. I was bit nervous we’d blow it somehow and not even make it there to see anything but we somehow managed to hop on a direct bus there. We thought about going to the high point from St Luc but it would have been too difficult to get up and we wanted to experience the finish. It was super windy road up that had me a bit car sick but probably because I spent the whole time trying to figure out why my data (internet) access from my Orange Holiday plan eSim was not working. I couldn’t stream the race or check updates like everyone else. It was super frustrating. Krissi dogged me for not having an iPhone (I have Google Pixel 4). Yep, the iPhone is still more user friendly and while with the Android devices have more flexibility, you also get more chances to screw things up! (I eventually figured out I had a bad configuration).

What we weren’t able to figure out until the race started (or even after), is several of the runners we had hoped to see did not even start. Mostly Americans and newer names that we’d been tracking this year with the Golden Trail Series. We already knew my friend had to pull out but were bummed not to see Sophia and Grace. We would have gone anyways as we were all in on the experience, but it fun to be homers too! Still, the US women seemed to be well represent and we were stoked for Bailey Kowalczyk and her 6th finishing ahead of many of the favorites! Jared Hazen looked to have had a tough race. Killian had a rare 5th place finish though I have to assume he’s holding back with UTMB coming up.

We had to catch a 4:30p train back to Martigny so we made sure to give ourselves plenty of time to hop on a bus down the mountain. But not after we saw most of the 25 men and women followed by a beer, of course! A fun day for sure.

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