Friday, August 9, 2013

Switzerland, Now with Pictures!

Zinal, Switzerland is probably my favorite place in the world.  Two years ago, when I came here, I fell in love.  This year, however, it would be a lot more favorite if the sun would occasionally shine.  Wow, I need to write that more, because the sun just came out.

Anyways, I can hear an Abba cover band concert playing in the distance.  Because when Sierre-Zinal comes to Zinal, they pull out all the stops.  There are press cars, runners, people in black jackets, race organizers, paragliders and an Abba cover band filling the town. 
The bus ride to Zinal
 In order to get to Zinal, you have to ride a bus from Sierre, where the race starts.  To give you an idea of how steep the course is, I took a picture from the bus, looking down on Sierre.  We had just driven up the switchbacks you can see.

The trail we usually train on before the race.
As I alluded to before, Zinal is having a lot of rain.  The path we usually train on has turned into a creek, so we have to run elsewhere.  We have, however, been hearing a lot of cowbells during out training.  Specifically, the type of cowbells that are attached to cows, as opposed to the type wielded by cheering squads.  But yeah, the rain caused a certain amount of flooding.  Rumor had it some cars were damaged, and this bridge is definitely in bad shape, but I don't know of any houses that have been damaged.  I'm sure that the Swiss will just rebuild the bridge even better and this will never happen again.

That is supposed to be a bridge, not a pier.
Pablo Vigil, chopping wood
 Pablo Vigil recruits the American runners to come to Sierre-Zinal.  He is a 4 time champion of the race and all around great guy.  He is also fluent in enough languages that he isn't just a dignitary, he's a translator for the Swiss, who have more languages regularly spoken in their country than most linguists know.  A lesser known fact about Pablo, for all of the mountain runners reading this, is that Pablo enjoys chopping wood.  So invite him over before winter comes if you want to keep your house warm.

Anyways, race is on Sunday.  I'm getting excited.

The fog is steadily rising out of the forest as I write this.  I'd love to describe it in a metaphor, but the closes I can come to is by plagiarizing the band playing in the distance.  Mama mia!  (that's what they're playing right now, sorry)  A better metaphor is that it looks like a thousand ghosts are migrating up the valley, perhaps to listen to Abba or watch the end of the race.  Or maybe they just want to get to the mountains floating in the clouds.
A mountain floating in the clouds

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