I think I know how Luke feels in a candy store. (And I mean currently, not when he was a toddler). In the past 5 days, Ueli has shown me so many places that literally stunned me with their beauty and set a new benchmark for scenic runs. One of those days was so memorable, however, that it’s worthy of its own post.
Early Sunday morning, we hopped on a train to St. Moritz, a town in southeast Switzerland that houses the high altitude training center for Swiss Olympic athletes. He warned me that the trip would take almost 4 hours each way, but that the journey alone would be worth it. He wasn’t messing around. First, we got to watch the sun rise over Zurich.
For the next few hours, we wound our way through and around the majestic Alps. At one point the train stopped on a bridge and it seemed like a forceful jump on one side would send us toppling over the edge into the river below. I was worried when a serious-looking man made an announcement in Swiss-German, but Ueli assured me that there was nothing to worry about- the parachutes we would use to jump out would be delivered shortly.
I was totally captivated by the enormity and raw beauty of our surroundings… but not so much that Ueli and I didn’t exchange some language lessons along the way. Here’s a vid of Ueli saying a Swiss-German phrase that foreigners love because it’s full of those throaty sounds. I’m not sure how useful it is, but I really hope I find myself in an urgent situation that requires me to tell someone that “a small crab is creeping over a small kitchen cabinet.”
I also got to see the reasons that St. Moritz buzzes with distance runners (and other athletes) every summer, especially in preparation for the Olympics this year. The trails are nicely-surfaced, well-marked, and endless; the elevation is perfect for training; and the mountains hover over the track as if they could collapse on it at any second. I would bet that that track takes a beating from some pretty spectacular, faster-than-written workouts.
After a few solid hours of running, picnicing, and wandering, we finally made it back to Zurich around 9 p.m. That meant that we still had a few hours left to use our travel passes, so we walked to the top of a massive hill and got a clear view of Zurich by night. It was a nice, symmetrical end to a truly great day. If the opportunity ever arises to spend a summer training in St. Moritz, I’ll jump!