Wild-swimming in France and ultrarunning in Switserland

Although it was only for ten days, this was a pretty awesome vacation! With my recent focus on ultra-running and a limited amount of holidays, a longer summer trek was unfortunately of the schedule. Instead, my girlfriend and me went to the Cévennes in France for 5 days to relax, after which we went to Switzerland where I would be participating in the Eiger Ultra Trail.

Wild swimming in France

With everything neatly packed in the rental VW Up!, we headed to the South to France. After some stressful moments on the périphérique at Paris and a too short night on a parking lot somewhere along the way, we arrived around 10am at our campsite at Camping Le Val des Cévennes, near Florac. There we rented the Canada Trek tent, complete with wooden platform, table etc, proper glamping! The campsite is located along the river Tarn, perfect for a refreshing swim after the long ride.

The following days we went discovering the region with the much recommended book Wild Swimming France (there are also editions covering Italy, Spain and UK). The idea is as simple as it sounds. Park the car somewhere along the road, follow the description towards the river and jump in (one place there actually was no other way to get in but to jump). This has been the second holiday we use this book, and again it did not disappoint. In all, we went for eight swims in four days in the region, and although different in character, I wouldn't be able to give you my favourite. 

Eiger Ultra Trail E101

I actually managed to become completely relaxed in France, so much so we left our tent a day later than agreed with the campsite owner. Nice of him of not throwing our stuff out while we were away, but it was time to head to Grindelwald, Switzerland to run the  Eiger Ultra Trail . Although the webpage states the campsite is "never full", there were only two places left at Camping Eiger Nordwand. 

The day before a race is always a bit strange. There's not much you can do except picking up your race bib, make sure you packed all the mandatory gear, saying hi to other runners, eating and sleeping. The start was at 4:30 in the morning, so it was a good thing I managed to get a few hours of sleep as it was going to be a long day. 

As this was my first +100k race, with plenty of elevation (6700m), I was pretty nervous the weeks before, but in the end everything went great. I didn't eat enough during the first 30k, but the soup, bread and coke at the summit of Faulhorn got me through. Once the 50k runners where heading back towards Grindelwald at Burglauenen, the race became less crowded and even more enjoyable. Although I think I would prefer smaller races, there's no denying I enjoyed myself during this adventure which took me almost 20h, after which I received a piece of Eiger rock as medal. And being able to run in an area as this left me speechless quite a few times.