Switzerland is renowned for it’s short, fast course and exciting racing – my favourite kind of Xterra -and it didn’t disappoint!

Swiss_aloha_back
Aloha teammates at the ‘home’ race

Only a week since Xterra Greece, the 13 hour journey home, then a day of interviews for BBC South Today and Radio Berkshire…

This left me with only 2 days in the UK to sort out all my kit, rebuild the bike, get a few training sessions in, a much needed physio appointment with Alex at Drummond Clinic, and pack up the van for a 4 week trip to the continent! With little time to rest & recover, I arrived in Switzerland pretty tired.

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Not a bad spot for camping on Lac de Joux

Camping probably wasn’t the best way to catch up on sleep either, but Welcome to Switzerland – it’s a stunning country, so clean and beautiful, but everything is double the price of back home! The fact their £5 currency looks like a 50p piece, and the cash machines dispense 200CHF notes by default (=€200) tells you all you need to know! Even the sports centre was out of budget, let alone hotels, but thankfully we found a lovely campsite, and the sun was shining.

The Swiss race is 2 laps on both bike and run, so it didn’t take too long to recce both courses the day before. I found it hard to get into race frame of mind though – tiredness, travel, and the fact our lovely campsite was right next to a rock festival didn’t really help! This was also the toughest lineup so far on this year’s European Tour. But it was great to see all my Swiss friends, especially Karin & Franziska from Aloha Team, along with Rollie, Jan, Mark and Nadja. I was getting a bit more into race mood now!

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Lou and Karin exit the swim together…

For the first time in my experience, Pro women had our own start, which meant for plenty of space on the swim… well apart from a few sharp elbows! I found myself in the front pack, a minute or so behind Brigitta, not too a bad start.

The bike course had little climbing, but there was no easy going – it was mainly crossing fields where the cows had trodden and mud had dried leaving a rutted and hard going surface. I wished I had 29” wheels as this was the perfect course for it, and I was working hard to keep up with the others. The best section was the scenic trail alongside Lac de Joux – but no time to enjoy the view today.

Karin was having a great ride, and completely un-planned, we actually worked together for a lot of the course. I had a couple of issues, firstly my contact lens fell out of my eye – I must have put it in the wrong way or just sweated too much into my eye. I found it still stuck to my sunglasses after the end of the race – useful! Although I’ve practised this scenario in training just in case (yes really!) it still makes the technical sections difficult and I lost some time through the trees. Luckily this course doesn’t have too many technical parts!

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…and still together on the bike!

Then just as I overtook a group before the singletrack I lost my chain, and another 30 seconds. I knew Karin wasn’t far ahead though, and Simon and Rollie our husbands cheering us round the course kept me pushing on.

I just wanted to get onto the run, knowing it was a course that should suit me (i.e. fast and not too much climbing where we’d have to walk!) I hoped there would be enough girls within catching distance – I was currently in 9th place and didn’t want to spoil my record of top 5 in all the European races so far! So I set about counting people off. First Karin, but then no-one for the rest of the lap – I was starting to think I lost way too much time on the bike. But just after 5k I passed Jessie who didn’t look like she was enjoying this run. I could see several more girls ahead, but not sure whether they were on the same lap. 3km to go and I recognised Ladina ahead, again looking like she was working hard and not enjoying the run. One more place… I seem to be catching a lot of people – guys too – but think I’m still in 6th place and running out of trail.

Sure enough, I enter the finishing field in enough time to see the 5th place lady cross the line. But I’m happy enough with 6th given a less than ideal race & preparation! I’m pleased to find out later that my run was as fast as all 3 podium girls – just the bike I need to work on! Next chance Xterra France in 7 days time!!

Great racing with Karin and Franziska
Swiss_aloha
It was great racing with so many friends – thanks Laurent and his team for organising. Karin finished 9th Pro and Swiss Champ 35-44. Franziska was 1st in her Age Group – Go Team!

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