I wanted to write a short post about the event that became the venue for my 100th ultra – the Brugg 24 hour road race in Switzerland, just 21 miles from the capital Zurich.
Although a fairly frequent visitor to Switzerland over the years I had never been to Brugg before. More often I had been to Basel for the Self Transcendence 24 Hour race, which has always had a special significance for me as it was the place where, on my first visit, I set my life time best 24 hour distance of 246.704km/153.295 miles in the year 2000. Feels like a while ago now but I can still feel the exhaustion, the sore feet and the elation! At the time I was hot off a long 100km career and had great speed endurance and it all came together in that race.
My crewman since 2004 Alan Young often waxed lyrical about the Brugg 24 hour road race and became a frequent helper and subsequently Race Referee too. Furthermore, I had known the race director for some time, local man Fredi Buchler, whom I had first met in Monaco, possibly during my first 6 Day race in 2006. Fredi is an accomplished para-athlete in his own right and I had become familiar with his cheeky grin, lap after lap in Monaco.
For a while it was quite unclear which race would actually be my 100th. Initially, when my race notes were checked by a third party, a missing race was spotted so that moved the 100th one race sooner. Then the postponement and ultimate cancellation of the Brazil Multiday Ultramarathon Festival, planned for February 2016, put a spanner in the works and I had to re-jig my plans for the whole year. Eventually I was delighted to realise that my first visit to Brugg and the venue for my 100th ultra, would in fact be Fredi’s 24 Hour!
My wife, Elizabeth and I have friends in Basel so I decided to travel from there to Brugg early on the Saturday morning. The pleasant and relaxing train journey took about 45 minutes and I was delighted to see Fredi and his friend waiting for me. A very short drive found us entering the park where the race is held.
My immediate impression was of a very green, well sheltered and shaded location surrounded by impressively high trees. Coming from the Orkney Islands I always notice large trees! The smooth, almost perfect tarmac surface is like a giant athletics track in shape, with a slightly flattened curve at one end and measures a level 934.8m.
I had a short interview with a local paper and then enjoyed the quiet busyness that is always associated with these events. I soon found my helper Wendy Edwards and she showed me the best spot for my table. Personally I’m pretty much independent of the race for my minimal supplies but I could see that there was a very good spread of food, drinks and regular meals expertly provided by a keen band of helpers headed by Dorothea, whom I had first met and run with, in that amazing Basel 24 hour in 2000.
The race enjoyed superb weather throughout with warm sunshine on the Saturday, over-night mist and fog and finally sunny again for the closing hour on Sunday.
As well as the 24 hour race, which is the Swiss Championship in alternate years, but not in 2016, there were keenly contested 6 hour and 12 hour (Swiss Championships) races as well. The event attracted an international field of 59 runners in total, across all the individual events.
Personally, the amazing man on the PA system, Thomas Eller, really brought the event to life. Speaking German and English he managed to encourage the runners, supply useful information on positions and lap times as well as inform the gathering crowd of spectators about what was going on.
My impression of the Brugg 24 Hour was of a very well run, friendly event with a setting, location and infrastructure that could support a very much larger competition. The quality of the circuit is such that anyone wanting a suitable road race for an attempt on a record or PB should give serious consideration to Brugg and remember September 2017 is the 10th edition.
Full results and more information can be found here: