The Zurich Marathon

Life is more fun when you say yes. It is a simple philosophy, but a lot of people are afraid to say yes when an opportunity presents itself. This often happens because they don’t feel prepared or don’t know how to do it. I am not one of those people. I believe in saying yes now and figuring it out later. This is exactly what I did on a recent trip to London.

I had to go to London for work in April of 2019 (poor me), but I couldn’t imagine anything worse than working seven straight days and not taking advantage of the cheap flights between London and the rest of Europe. Unsure of what I wanted to do, I began scouring flights for my cheapest options and looking around at events in Europe. Lucky for me, there was plenty of things going on, one of which caught my eye.

I happened to be in London the week of the London marathon! On this same weekend the Zurich marathon was also occurring. Now, I come from an athletic background, and had done 2 marathons up to this point, but I’d only run above 6-7 miles once in the previous six months. So, what did I do? I emailed the Zurich marathon race coordinators and the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) charity to see if spots were still available! Unfortunately, the London Marathon spots were filled (London is a lottery system, but charities have a few guaranteed entries), but Zurich was wide open. Next thing I know, I was buying my ticket to Zurich and signing up for the marathon. I mean, what can go I wrong… I only had to run 4x as far as I was used to!

Now, for those of you who haven’t been to Switzerland, I can’t stress this enough, pick up your laptop, buy a ticket and go! You will not regret it. Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries you will ever get the chance to see. On this trip I stayed in Zurich, which is more metropolitan, but you can’t go wrong no matter where you choose to spend your time.

Just a normal sidewalk in the middle of Zurich.

So, I arrived in Zurich late Friday and had decided to stay at the Four Points by Sheraton in Sihlcity because it was walking distance to downtown, and was far more reasonably priced than the downtown area hotels. I am a large proponent of the Marriott brand, and this hotel didn’t let me down. It was located right outside a mall, near a train station, and right along the river! Not to mention, the hotel upgraded me to a 1 bedroom suite and I was able to get a delicious breakfast for free thanks to my Marriott status. 

Being that this opportunity came out of nowhere, I was woefully underprepared for a marathon in Switzerland. Luckily, the marathon’s registration & check-in on Saturday morning was in a sports store, so I was able to pick up some running essentials like snacks (bonking, aka hitting the wall, aka running out of stored carbs is no fun). Following my meandering about in the store and downtown (read: eating Swiss chocolate), I walked back to my hotel to check out the mall and other nearby food (cause carbo-loading is important, ya know)! I called it an early night because sleep is also important before running 26.2 miles. 

On a depressingly early Sunday morning, over 2000 racers began preparing to toe the line, which meant it was time to rain! There was no backing out at this point though, so I donned my running shoes, handed my gear bag to the gear check and went to the start. While the rain was less than ideal, it cleared up by the time I hit mile 2, and wow, this course was one of the most impressive race courses I have ever seen. The course was relatively flat, but took you through downtown Zurich and followed the edge of Lake Zurich for an out and back course.

Still a beautiful run, despite the cloud cover.

While running I often found myself smiling at nothing while looking across the lake at the picturesque mountain backdrop, which made the run that much more bearable. Much to my surprise, this marathon ended up being my best one to date! I ended up finishing in 527th place, in 3:27:33. If you ask me, that ain’t too shabby for a guy who showed up with relatively little preparation and had just finished working six 12-hour shifts back in London earlier that week. 

Until next time, remember that life is more fun if you just say yes. 

Sporting the post-race-endorphin-induced-smile.

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