Mulhollands Matterhorn Madness …the unedited version

After years of Ben Mounsey and co racing in Europe, when one time cvfr Johny Helliwell (I have allergies to racing) asked me I took him up the offer to go and do this Matterhorn race.

There are 3 choices offered by ultraks, 16k, 32k and 46k. I know my limits so we registered for the 32k in a very commercial but impressive arena with most leading brands enticing you for sales.

After 2 sleepless nights I was ready to put this beast to bed 🙂 Race day we hopped on the train to Zermatt (the start) to save all energies. 8.40am and anxiety levels spiked as I tried to block out the mcs/comperes as they revved up the crowds and then it was blast off.

I had imagined a Hebden 22 as a very rough guide but this course had 2000m of climb and start height of 1600m, 10 times my home height, we knew this would be a weakness. A few extra days to acclimatise in future.

With no “Bullet Ben” start, I set the pace for the first mile, and then Wenker (Swiss, Scott) trotted past along with eventual 2nd place, making the first climb look easy. It was, except I had no oxygen but Johny set a good pace and we reached the summit at Sunnega 2260m. Plenty at the feed station but I couldn’t get any food down which was a concern.

Me, Baptiste and Johny worked together contouring on fantastic trails and up the 2nd climb (not as brutal as the first) but still 600m uphill called Riffelalp. We hit a tricky section and Baptiste took off but I chased and closed it, leaving Johny with his own mental ghosts to endure the 2nd half. 

I found I could only drink dilute coke and didn’t even try to eat but I felt okay on the final killer ascent 800m to 2583m though I didn’t really take in the views too often. On the top I waited for Baptiste, but the voice of grandmaster Gray, like Obe Wan Kanobi, told me to go, we shook and I flew down to the reservoir that provides power to the whole town, expecting Zermatt to appear.

Instead I got a 4K sign and my fake duracells were spent. Tiny ups became Trooper Lanes and my cadence became erratic. I tried to crouch at a mountain stream and aborted as the change in movement ignited cramp.

I got over the line in 3hrs 4mins in 3rd and Johny came in only 5 mins after in 5th. I gave the trademark kiss to the mcs/comperes, got photographed in the top 3. Then dropped to the ground and crawled off for shade and food.

Unfortunately I started hyperventilating though in my head I didn’t panic. Emergency aid was given and eventually I came back to life in plenty of time for me to wreak havoc at the awards kissing all the top 10, the organisers and pretty ladies. Some great prizes too.

still holding onto that well deserved medal

A few hours later after a wash and feed, all part of the courtesy, and the mcs spotted me and thanked me for making everyone laugh. Now I must’ve underestimated my rechargeable as I drank the complimentary cocktail and boogied until 4am.

A wonderful day and I would urge fell runners to consider a race of this stature. The Earl himself may do battle with the 46 in future!