This post is from one of our members: 

Three years ago, I arrived into Geneva from San Francisco the weekend of the marathon. Being an avid runner, this was a race event I had to do at some point during my time here.  Little did I know the first year we were here I’d be pregnant with strict orders from my Swiss doctor to not run. The second year, I was too busy with my new son to train properly (that’s what I told myself and others at least.)  Here we are in our third year and I finally felt somewhat ready to participate in this race event.

Having run a number of half-marathons over the last 15 years, I felt most comfortable signing up for the half-marathon. This course, of 21 km or 13 miles, would start in Chene-Bourg and finish on the Pont du Mont-Blanc (the bridge) after winding through rolling hills in country, alongside the lake, through city streets, and along the edge of an urban park.

Marathon runners in the Geneva countryside. Photo credit: Genevamarathon.org © Manu Molle

Marathon runners in the Geneva countryside. Photo credit: genevamarathon.org © Manu Molle

On Saturday, the day before the race event, my husband, dog, son, and I made our way into the race village to pick up my race packet and shop at the expo.  The expo had all the usual stuff – running shoes for sale, a variety of sports gels and bars, and information on future races. I always love these expos – they get me into the spirit of the race weekend and I always enjoy an opportunity to shop.

Race day, which was Sunday, started early for me. I took the first bus out of our village to meet a friend, whose house happened to be right near the start, for coffee before the race.

After a relaxing half hour of coffee and strawberry muffins I strolled into my race corral about 20 minutes before the start. In order to group runners by similar race times and avoid a large rush of runners all starting at once, people are ‘corraled’ by estimated finishing times. For me, I was in Corral C or the 2:00 finishing time block.  During my second to longest 20 minutes of the morning, there was a horn band playing to get people energized and a number of people running around to warm up (literally! – it was quite brisk.)

Départ du Semi-Marathon Photo credit: Tribune de Genève © Georges Cabrera

Départ du Semi-Marathon Photo credit: Tribune de Genève © Georges Cabrera

At 8:30 (well, 8:34 for me – Corral C was third to start), we were off! The race began along the tree-lined streets of Chene-Bourg . After running on quiet streets for a while, we finally made our way into the countryside. At one point, we ended up on a gravel trail. To anyone who has run street races, gravel or any surface other than pavement is generally not a welcome surprise.

Eventually we made our way into familiar territory for me. We ran right behind the Vesenaz Manor (quite possibly my favorite store in all of Geneva) and down through Cologny. And, when I say down, it was quite a downhill – I loved it then. My quadriceps did not love it after.

Photo credit: Tribune de Genève © Georges Cabrera

Runners during the half-marathon. Photo credit: Tribune de Genève © Georges Cabrera

At around kilometer 10 or so (halfway there!) we hit the lake! For some crazy reason I thought we were close to finishing. Since I had run this lake road so many times before and knew, roughly, how long it took to get to Pont du Mont Blanc, I got quite excited and started picking up my speed. Apparently, I forgot to count in this process. Well, we run towards Pont du Mont Blanc (at around km 14.5) and then turn left to go onto Rue du Rhone!

Now, onto the 20 longest minutes of my day – we eventually make our way across Pont des Bergues, and for a while snake through the city streets of what I call the ‘train station’ side of the bridge – or more properly, the Right Bank. We run on Rue du Lausanne, and then all the way up to the World Trade Organization, and then down through the Botanical Gardens.  Even though the course is mostly flat at this point, it felt like uphill and that it would never end!

Runners cross the Mont Blanc bridge and head to the finish line. Photo credit: genevamarathon.org © Manu Molle

Runners cross the Pont du Mont Blanc and head toward the finish line. Photo credit: genevamarathon.org © Manu Molle

Finally, at around km 20, we hit the Quai du Mont Blanc. Woo hoo! Almost there! The finish came up fast and I’ve never been so happy to be on Pont du Mont Blanc!  Spectators lined the finish and were cheering and shouting ‘Allez!’ ‘Allez!  2 hours, 1 minute, and 38 seconds later, I had finished this race.

The day was beautiful and sunny and over the course of the entire weekend and 6 races, over 9,000 people participated! I would gladly do this race again and it made me proud to live in Geneva.

For more information on the Geneva Marathon, click here for the official website and click here for the Tribune de Genève’s recap of race events. The 2014 Geneva Marathon will take place on 4 May.   

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/

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