It’s rare, in fact, it’s unknown, for me to be able to make an announcement that I was the first runner over the line in any event, unless it was an event with just me taking part. But I can proudly declare that I (yes me, Plodfoot Anne) was the first British female in my age category to complete the Lausanne Half Marathon in Switzerland. The fact that I was the only Brit in Dames 50-60 is neither here nor there, I was first and proud of it. I was also the third British female, so there. The Milky Bars, or rather Toblerones, are on MEEEE!
We have friends in Lausanne, and don’t really need any excuse to hop on a flight to Geneva and then straight on to the extremely efficient Swiss railways to spend a few days in that lovely city, but entering the half marathon made it seem like a healthy and worthy option.
What was not to like? A point-to-point run with a net altitude loss of 15metres, stunning scenery, with vineyards stretching up to the sky on the right and Lac Leman reaching across to the mountains on the right. Drinks and food stations every couple of kilometres and live music to cheer us our way, I even managed to sing along to the Beatles’ ‘A Little Help from my Friend’ as I passed the 15km mark.
Coming from Yorkshire, and therefore having short arms and deep pockets and always being strangely absent when it’s time to get a round in, we don’t like to part with too much money to enter races. Usually it’s a small local race with a £5 entry fee and a mucky fat sandwich when you finish, that’s if there’s anything left after those in front have finished scoffing.
So a big event like this was something new to us, as was competing abroad. We were among 17,000 competitors who were doing either the full, half or quarter marathon, it felt like a city of runners.
Seasoned eventeers will be used to exhibitions of shoes, shoes and more shoes, along with strange-coloured and weird-smelling nutrition supplements, as they pick up their race numbers. But this was all heady excitement for us – and in French, we found our French vocabulary on all matters running-related increase dramatically!
We had our numbers with our names on, bags, leaflets, little sachets of shower gel and anti-pong sock washing liquid, dried apple that was so tart we strained our cheek muscles and a box of breakfast cereal. The long-sleeve technical top proudly proclaimed Lausanne Marathon, which felt like a bit of a cheat, though between us we would be doing a full marathon. They even plied us with pasta and non-alcoholic drinks, it was all very exciting.
I have to confess to being very nervous, 21 and a bit kilometres at something approaching running pace is still a bit of a stretch for me, and while my French is pretty good and German monosyllabic, I wasn’t sure I could hold a conversation with my fellow runners. As it turned out, I managed. I managed it all, despite the unseasonal 23C temperature and full sun, thank goodness for SPF 50, which ensured I was the whitest female to cross the line. Noel was the whitest male, we were the White Couple.
What a great experience, our friends Helen, Matthew and four-year-old Emily cheered us in. As I ate and drank everything that was offered to me from the stalls lining the finish route, not worrying about whether it would spoil my tea or not, a Jean-Claude, a fellow finisher turned to me and exclaimed the word I’d heard from spectators all the way,’Bravo, Anne!’ he said. ‘Bravo, Jean-Claude!,’ I replied, trying not to spit out the mix of banana, soup and Rivella. ‘What,’ he asked me, ‘did the English say instead of ‘bravo’?’. I thought about it, ‘well done is what we say,’, I told him. ‘Well done, Anne,’ he said. Well done indeed!
And yes, I did forget to stop my watch, but the very efficient Datasport service congratulated me in French, German and English. A slow time, 2.29, but you can’t hurry past beautiful scenery. And of course I WAS first……