As we were drinking wine and scarfing down lovely Swiss meats & cheeses at Ashley’s Geneva apartment, someone mentioned that they could only find 1 race recap blog of previous Geneva marathons…
Well, now that 18-or-so running bloggers ran in the 2014 Geneva Marathon that’s about to change. I’m pretty sure through our tweets, Instagrams, Facebook posts, blogs, and storifys you now know more about the Geneva marathon than you ever thought possible.
As a card carrying* member of Team Naturally Run (*there are no cards) I was super keen to go on our first race weekend when Leah started to organise the trip last fall. We picked Geneva for a lot of reasons, but the cheap/fast flights, multiple race distances, and fondue availability was at the top of my list. I don’t know how to word this next bit without getting too emosh but it is so great to have made a group of friends like this who come together to go on super fun active weekends like this. I had to pinch myself a few times to prove that this is real life.
We’re all different ages, from different places, enjoy different foods (but we can all agree a pretzel sandwich is heavenly) yet there’s something more than running that connects us all. It’s a bit of healthy competition, a bit of support to a common goal. It’s knowing everything about that person’s running history, but not knowing what job they do! It’s almost impossible to explain how internet friends are some of the best friends you’ll make to someone who hasn’t tried, but trust me, and get involved if you can.
Back to Geneva. We arrived Friday morning and all went to our respective hotels. I stayed in the really nice Hotel Cristal Design which is 2 blocks from the main train station, a 10 minute walk to Mont Blanc bridge and about 15 minutes to the old town. Aka perfect. It’s not cheap, but nothing in Geneva is, so I booked a single room but luckily ended up with a double room. It was huge for 1 person, super clean, and had all the hotel luxuries I expect (wifi and BBC international). We spent the afternoon eating and visiting the expo to get our stuff sorted for the upcoming races.
I signed up for La Genevoise 5k on Saturday and the Semi Marathon on Sunday. La Genevoise was said to be a Women’s 5k along the lake with a unique t-shirt for all finishers. It turned out to be the same t-shirt (and medal) as all the races except the full marathon so it didn’t end up being a very unique race. The apparel sponsor was Decathlon so the race shirts were tech t-shirts in men and women’s cuts. The women’s cut were hideously short and had what I can only describe as “hip cuts” to let our presumably wide hips breathe while we run. I asked for a men’s shirt and it was a nice long slim t-shirt, one I’ll probably wear again. We also received a free Eau de Geneve water bottle which we could fill up with delicious Geneve tap water at loads of fountains around the city. I love this idea and wish more races would rely on local water options rather than bottled/imported.
After the expo we were invited to Ashley & Bo’s apartment for wine, cheese, and chat. They were such great hosts and had even made devilled eggs (MY FAVOURITE!). We talked about all the important current events like, pros/cons of running skirts? Would you rather run a 10k naked or a marathon in heels? And most importantly where is the best fondue in Geneva? After I drank all the wine and ate all the cheese we stumbled back to our hotels for a good rest after a long day.
Saturday morning started off with Nutella and a wander around the old town of Geneva. I stopped in a few grocery stores to check out the crisps, chocolate, and cheese sections and of course grabbed a few snacks for my hotel room. Just in case I went hungry.
Midday we all met at the famous Flower Clock so we could head to La Genevoise together. A few pictures and a quick jog over Mont Blanc bridge (we were a bit late) and we arrived at the euro-dance music fabulous warm up. Within minutes we were off and ran a lovely route along the lake. We started in almost the last wave so spent a lot of time passing people, but as a shakeout fun run we didn’t care about pace. I had a smile on my face for 100% of this run and it got even bigger when I met Mr. Tupperware at the end handing out gold water bottles to the finishers. I came home from this weekend with more water bottles than I have owned throughout my whole life.
The Geneva Marathon sent us personalized videos of our 5k race.
We celebrated the run and carb loaded for the next one at the same time (multitasking!) with delicious burgers from Holy Cow! near our hotel. Holy Cow! is another place I can recommend if you are staying in the area and want a cheap (for Geneva!) burger and fries. From there it was back to the hotel for legs up the wall and early(ish) to bed. Reign with so many super efficient organised ladies lulled me into a false sense of security that I knew everything about the race already. Back at the hotel I went to set my alarm and realized I didn’t exactly know when the race started, a few tweets to the other girls running the half, and we were organised to meet really early at the tram stop.
The 8:30am start in the suburbs of Geneva meant an early alarm but we all made it to the start area with plenty of time. I wasn’t exactly dressed warm enough to wait an hour in the howling wind so we were lucky to duck into a car park waiting area with Ashley as she works for one of the race sponsors. A few nice-flush-not-portaloo-toilets later we were at the start line dancing to Katy Perry and bouncing a beach ball around. From the start we ran as a group to feel rather than any pace. I wanted to run this for fun and seeing as Ashley wanted to get a PB around 2 hours it worked out as a perfect race to run together. 9:00 min/miles are my favourite things ever so I told her that I’d run around that pace if she wanted to get herself to a PB. We didn’t look at our watches for the first 2 miles and let all the knobheads zoom past us at a their knobhead pace.
The route was windy and hilly which I loved. It led through some lovely countryside villages and farm lands with mountains in the background. I (again) could not stop smiling. Most of us all stuck together for the first 6 miles and took turns saying how awesome the races was going so far. At about 7 miles we hit a major downhill back to Lac Leman and Geneva. The views were stunning at this point and with our legs on autopilot downhill we were all really happy to be running in such a beautiful area of the world. When we hit the lake we ran alongside it on a motorway for another 2ish miles. It wasn’t the most scenic part of the race but the tailwind and increased crowd support was nice as we kept on our pace.
At around 9.5 miles you pass by the finish line and go into the old town zig-zagging around the streets. At this point the crowds were out and there were a lot of people cheering out our names which was so lovely. Being Geneva we ran past every designer store so there was some window shopping to do to keep us occupied. At this point a couple of girls in our group sped off to finish the last few miles strong (and get shiny new PBs!) but we found Katy and Sam (who was running his first half!) running right behind us. There was a pretty mean hill at 11.5 miles but after that it was all downhill along the lake to the finish line on Mont Blanc bridge. Again, this was a half marathon I didn’t want to end as I was feeling great, but the chocolate covered marble cake at the finish line convinced me it was a good time to stop. Medal, (another) water bottle, and cake in hand we picked up our bags and headed to a warm tent to put on some layers. The weather promised 17 degrees, but the icy wind stayed all morning so I never really warmed up over the 13.1 miles. We nipped into the sponsors tent with Ashley for an espresso and plate of meat (you know me) then we were off to the lake to watch Ashley go for the ultimate Swiss ice bath in honour of her new PB. As we were leaving we saw a bunch of buckets of ice cream all over the park. Even though we were freezing I can’t resist a Cornetto, so that was added to my post-race recovery nutrition diet. *burp*
After a quick shower and change we all met back up at a pub along the route to sit in the sun and discuss the day. Along with those of us running the half marathon, some of the TNR girls were running the marathon relay (4-5 per team covering the marathon distance) and Becs was running the entire marathon! There were lots of stories to share and soon a few of us were off to dinner (Entrecote steak for me!) and then a cheeky cocktail to end off a great weekend.
I don’t think I even need to say it, but this was a great weekend with an even greater group of friends and I highly recommend everyone takes a racecation to the Geneva Marathon if you like interesting routes, fresh mountain air, cheese, and chocolate.
My only suggestion to the Geneva Marathon organisers – please have these guys lining the last 100m of the route. Cows too.