The road to this year’s edition of the Swiss City Marathon – Lucerne was cobbled with flight cancellations and cold weather. We persevered and enjoyed a fantastic race as a reward!
The adventure began when airlines working with Aviapartner at Brussels International Airport in Zaventem was hit by an unannounced strike by its baggage handlers on Friday. October 26, 2018. Not all airlines were affected, but our flight with easyJet leaving that Friday evening was. Argh! I rerouted our booking to fly out of Amsterdam to Geneva the next day, Saturday.
We took the intercity train to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport immediately after work and checked into the Hilton for the night. Our room was nice and faced into the interior lobby and courtyard. We also had the very spacious bathroom with handicapped access.
The Hilton was connected to the airport by a walkway. It only took us a few minutes to get to the M gates where we waited for our flight at 7:25 AM. There were no Priority Pass lounges at the M gates so we just paid for our own coffee and drinks at the boarding areas.
After landing at 9:00 AM, we took the intercity train to Basel SBB train station where we switched to another train bound for Lucerne. The train ride was almost four hours but hey, we made it to Switzerland!
We stepped out of the Lucerne train station into a slight drizzle and a giant welcome archway where a pop up stand was giving out nut bars. Richard and I got a couple of bars each which we munched on while crossing the bridge to get to the race expo at Hotel Schwiezerhof on the opposite side of the lake.
We could see the Kappellbrücke to our left and Hotel Schwiezerhof on the right.
The race expo and pasta party was in full swing when we got there.
The goody bag included one ticket to the pasta party next door.
We waited for a while for the alpenhorn group to perform but left after waiting for half an hour.
We took the bus and got off at the Europe stop to get to Grand Hotel Europe, our race digs.
I checked out my haul from the race expo. Swiss marathons may be expensive but they do give us lots of product samples. The registration also came free public transportation travel from the airport to the race and back. The free transportation was a nice treat because Richard had to pay 33 CHF for a Super saver return train ticket himself! I also pre-ordered the race backpack which they mailed to our Belgian address in September.
It was raining the rest of the afternoon so we decided to do the hotel’s marathon dinner buffet for 38 CHF per person.
The start and finish line of the marathon was near the hotel, always a sweet advantage for us. Grand Hotel Europe was also one of the official hotels which meant more perks: early 5:30 AM breakfast buffet and a 4:00 PM late checkout. Even sweeter!
The race had a staggered start with the intent for the faster runners to go first and the leisure runners like me to go behind them. However, they had a five and a half hour time limit. The race route required us to do two loops. Our start time was at 9:30 AM and we had to start the second half of the race by 12:00 noon; if we are late we will be stopped and only our half marathon time will count. Oh no! I am too lazy to train anymore and instead use the marathons as my training. My time has not improved much over the last several years.
I made an executive decision (shhh!) and started at 9:15 AM with the runners looking to finish in 4:15. I figured I needed the 15-minute buffer to finish the first loop and made sure to keep to the side so the fast ones can run by.
I completed the first half in 2:29; whew! We started together with the half marathoners. The course had many big bands to entertain runners and spectators.
Richard took photos of the area.
There were major hills in the course so I took my time to do the second half. completing the marathon in 5:25:44,8. I also got to see my New Yorker friend Jim who finished way ahead of me.
The finishers each received the finisher’s medal, a neck buff, an ASICS finisher’s polo shirt, a glass of beer (with alcohol for Richard), and a bottle of Peak Punk tea served as the energy drink on the course. Richard was also given a miniature cow bell!
I took my shower and walked our way back to the train station. The buses were already running at 4:00 PM but the one we needed was not running regularly. We took a souvenir photo in front of the Kappellbrücke.
Our flight home was also cancelled. The airline put us up at the chic Hyperion Hotel in Basel. I loved the Rituals bath amenities and everything in the minibar was free!
We had a corner room with a great view of the colorful fairs.
The airline also paid for a nice dinner. Hmmm. . . we could get used to this!
We were up very early again to catch our flight from Basel EuroAiport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg to Lille, France. From there, we took the bus to the Brussels airport.
The logistical details of the trip was a challenge but I have great memories of the race to make the experience a positive one. I must also say the easyJet took very good care of its passengers who had their schedules disrupted by the strike at Brussels International Airport.