Tiffany's Zermatt Ultra Marathon - Part 3

You may remember part 1 and part 2 of Tiffany Jolowicz's fundraising journey, who took on the epic challenge of the Zermatt Ultra Marathon on July 1st

This is the third and final part of her story her own words...

My training had been going according to plan.  Over 6 months I had increased my distances and speeds, dropped 2 kilos, gained a two (out of 6 pack,) my quads were becoming quite defined and I was on the cusp of feeling nearly ready to tackle the Gornergrat mountain in Zermatt.  Then quite suddenly I found myself flat on my back, with a distended stomach and the energy level of teenager on a Sunday morning.  

Four days in hospital later, countless tests (not so pleasant,) I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease.  Training was completely disrupted, my aerobic fitness ran out the door and my muscles faded as I dropped another 3 kilos.  So my new goal, maybe a tougher goal, after consulting with the doctor, became the half marathon up the Gornergrat.  It is still a climb from 1616 metres above sea level to 2585 metres above sea level.  

I arrived in Zermatt on the Thursday trying to give my body some chance at acclimatising.  On Friday I took the (free train, comes with the entrance fee,) up to the top of the Gornergrat.  I was 3,300 metres above sea level.  The views of the rugged mountains and icy glacier were fantastic. 

I decided to walk down the mountain for an hour or so to get the feel of the terrain.  There were one or two stragglers doing the same as me but for the rest I was alone.  The wind was up and the clouds were moving swiftly across the sky, hiding the Matterhorn.  Then it started to snow.  I felt more like mountaineer than marathon runner.  Going down a mountain you are about to go up is a good confidence-booster because it hides the aerobic challenge and I was quite happy to avoid that feeling.  

Tiffany J_3

The race organisers were very generous with my request only to run the half.  The plan was to start running at the half marathon point from the check-point where the relay runners pass the baton.  This meant I started in front of the regular half marathon runners and alongside the fastest relay runners, the fastest marathon and ultra marathon professionals. 

The crowd lined the main street all the way through Zermatt.  As I crossed the rubber timing mat maybe 20 runners had run up the street ahead of me.  I joined them.  It was too late in the game to change my starter number so I headed up the street wearing an ultra marathoner red starter number.  The crowd assumed that I had already run 21.1 km and that I was the leading lady ultra marathoner.  As fresh as a daisy I ran effortlessly up the street feeling like a complete fake but really unable to stop and explain to my adoring crowd, that I had only run 200 metres. 

The whole race was a little surreal because as I passed the 25 km mark then the 35 km mark the feelings of exhaustion I usually experience at this point in a marathon were not there, seeing as I was just tackling the half.  It was a fantastic day, the clouds had completely disappeared and everyone was in good spirits as they took on the mountain. 

Tiffany J_2

I was not sure if my body would perform or crumble.  I did not know if the altitude would affect me, was not sure if my inflamed ileum would let me down or not. In the end, I felt so strong throughout.  Wearing a huge smile on my face, I felt privileged and happy to be running on behalf of my sponsors and the Appeal.  Many thanks to the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and especially Jenny for all your encouragment and for the amazing work you do.

A massive thank you to Tiffany for all of her hard work and overcoming some massive challenges to raise in excess of £4,000 for the Appeal! You can continue to support Tiffany's challenge here.