There are 365 days in the year to go out and get drunk on. Though I don't do so every night I have found it tiresome how there is so much emphasis placed on just one of these nights. New Years Eve is always an anticlimax, overpriced understaffed bars meaning I usually end up drinking myself sober and then the last thing I remember is an arduous journey home.
I'm not sure exactly how I found out about this race but it seemed like a good idea from the start. Why not see in the new year doing what I like most? Also an interesting bonus was that if I'd finished as the first Brit I'd get a certificate that says I was the faster British Marathon runner of 2009. Seemed like a nice gimmick, only I'd accidentally invited Simon and Ben along and they were faster than me.
Zurich was freezing. We arrived around noon on new years eve and found it difficult to believe that it was colder than London is right now. It was about minus 3. While we had a couple of hours sleep in the evening it snowed and covered the ground with several inches of think snow. It was the perfect kind for making a snowman, unfortunately we didn't have the time.
The start of this marathon is quite low key, in a school in west Zurich. It was nice to get out of the cold but we knew it was only getting colder and we would have to go out there soon. Ben and I were the only ones who were wearing shorts, everyone else opting to wrap up much warmer. Part of me thought that I was making a mistake by not covering my legs in the cold, but I decided to settle on the opinion that is was just the Europeans being soft.
There was some sort of countdown before the start of the race when everyone gathered outside. It was in German and I could only pick out a few numbers. As soon as we started running we realised that this was not going to be a normal run. The snow had covered the whole paths and as we ran on it we compacted it to ice. There were a few slips in the first mile.
After about 5 minutes we realised that it was 2009 and wished each other a happy new year. Zurich bring in the new year an hour ahead of the UK. I thought about people at their parties right now and wondered if I'd prefer to be doing the same.
The marathon route was fairly basic. It is a 3 lap course that follows the river along tarmac path. At least I thought it was tarmac, it was covered in ice so you could not really tell. We went under bridges which almost caused people to slip in the river. There was a point where you could almost slip into a fire.
Though the route was fairly uninspiring it was quite cool running through little camps with fires and warm energy drink. I never thought that I could stomach warm energy drink but it really hit the spot.
After an hour we said happy new year again as it was that time in the UK. Soon after that is rained and we really felt the cold. It also made the ice slippier and much harder to run on. It seemed that even though we were putting in the same effort the pace just slowed. There was a spell when it rained and it got very cold. It was short lived.
After seeing the same bridges, the same cabin parties and nightclubs 3 times each we approached the end. It was a welcome sight as our bodies were getting cold and legs starting to freeze.
We ran round together and were going to finish together and get a good photo as we crossed the line. We stayed together and cross together however when the chips recorded the times they recorded mine as being 0.2 seconds ahead of Ben. I honestly didn't stick my leg out :) The photo proves it.
Getting into the warm was something we looked forward to for nearly 4 hours. Our time of 3.38 was very respectable and 15th overall. The winner got 2.55. I think someone who was used to running on ice would not have deviated too far from their normal marathon time here. We struggled a bit.
We all entered coughing fits as soon as we got into the warm. We were not too sure how to get back home and had no desire to stay up and drink. We got a cab back to the hotel and managed half a beer before going for breakfast at 6 and then collapsing in bed.
I'm really glad I did this. It makes a change from 3 disappointing New Years in London. Probably won't do it again any time soon but perhaps it may be worth organising one in the UK? I know a few people who'd be up for that...