42 Kilometers to the top: Zermatt Marathon, here we come!

Zermatt Marathon - 42K to the top - Pauwels Consulting

This Sat­ur­day, Bert Pauwels and Niels Decler­ck from Pauwels Con­sult­ing will run the leg­endary Zer­matt Marathon. Pas­cal Ver­baere will take on the half marathon.

We won­dered whether our run­ners are ready for the race. And whether you can be ready for such a race in the first place. Time to take stock! Time for an inter­view with Bert and Pas­cal.

Zermatt Marathon - 42K to the top - Pauwels Consulting

“You can do more than you think.”
Bert and Pas­cal, first off, con­grat­u­la­tions on your res­o­lu­tion to run next Saturday’s Zer­matt marathon and half marathon. Respect!

Bert: Thank you. Well, we still have to run the race, but thank you (laughs).

How’s the prepa­ra­tion for the marathon com­ing along?

Bert: The men­tal prepa­ra­tion is going bril­liant­ly (laughs). And actu­al­ly the phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion is also going well. In the last 10 days, I’ve done three long runs. I’ve run more than 60 kilo­me­ters and it felt great.

60 Kilo­me­ters… Is that enough of a prepa­ra­tion for the Zer­matt Marathon?

Bert: It’s a good prepa­ra­tion, but unfor­tu­nate­ly far too lit­tle for the Zer­matt Marathon. The “Zer­matt” is in a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent league, so I think it will take a huge phys­i­cal effort to get to the top.

But men­tal­ly I’m in good shape. On Sat­ur­day I’ll be going all out. I tru­ly believe that you can do more than you think. I tru­ly believe that I can fin­ish this marathon, so I will do every­thing to con­quer the moun­tain.

“In the­o­ry, I’m not fit enough, but the will is there.”
How’s your prepa­ra­tion going, Pas­cal?

Pas­cal: (Laughs) I usu­al­ly run 3 to 4 times a week, but recent­ly I’ve been unable to run that fre­quent­ly. Things were hec­tic at work and I was tired. I’ve tried to train more fre­quent­ly, but I didn’t have the ener­gy to do so.

So, in the­o­ry, I’m prob­a­bly not fit enough to run the half marathon, but the will is there. I made a res­o­lu­tion to get to the top. So that’s what’s going to hap­pen.

Pas­cal, is this the cra­zi­est ath­let­ic chal­lenge you’ve ever done?

Pas­cal: I’ve run three marathons in my life. In ’89, I ran the Brus­sels Marathon. In 2002, I ran the Liège Marathon. In 2004, I ran the Torhout Marathon. So I have a few run­ning events under my belt already.

But this is my first race in the moun­tains. And you can’t real­ly train for a moun­tain race if you don’t exer­cise in the moun­tains. So it will be quite a chal­lenge.

What about you, Bert? Is this the cra­zi­est ath­let­ic chal­lenge you’ve ever done?

Bert: Absolute­ly (laughs). No doubt about it.

“Busi­ness as usu­al, and then a stiff drink.”
What will your final days before the marathon look like, Bert?

Pauwels Consulting - Zermatt Marathon - 2014
Bert: From Mon­day to Wednes­day, it was busi­ness as usu­al. I had my stan­dard fol­low-up meet­ings, appoint­ments, phone calls etc.

On Thurs­day I’ll dri­ve to Zer­matt. I’ll check in on Thurs­day evening and then I will have a stiff drink. I promised myself one. I will also have a good glass of wine and a great din­ner.

I will use Fri­day to get used to the alti­tude. There will be sev­er­al run­ners that I know per­son­al­ly, so it will be nice meet­ing them there on the day before the event.

Sounds good! And what will your last week before the race look like, Pas­cal?

Pas­cal: Last Sat­ur­day, I ran a 12K race in Wal­loon Bra­bant. I ran on Sun­day too. On Mon­day and Tues­day I ran two short runs. Now I’m rest­ing to let my body recu­per­ate and to gain strength.

“But­ter­flies in the stom­ach.”
How do you pic­ture your races, gen­tle­men?

Bert: Today I most­ly have but­ter­flies in my stom­ach. I love the fact that I may and can expe­ri­ence this. On Sat­ur­day I’ll see beau­ti­ful things and meet nice peo­ple, but at the same time I’ll be push­ing myself to the lim­it.

At a cer­tain moment I’ll have to break through a wall to reach my goal. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to feel what pure human willpow­er can achieve. As I said, the phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion was not ide­al. There­fore the race on Sat­ur­day will prob­a­bly be a men­tal strug­gle.

Do you feel the same way, Pas­cal?

Pas­cal: Def­i­nite­ly! I’m con­fi­dent about the first 15 kilo­me­ters of the race, but I know it will be hard in the final kilo­me­ters.

Will you give it a sec­ond thought next time you make such a big announce­ment at the New Year’s Par­ty, Bert?

Bert: Nope (laughs). As I said at the New Year’s par­ty, on the one hand, this chal­lenge illus­trates the ambi­tions of Pauwels Con­sult­ing in Switzer­land and on the oth­er hand, I tru­ly believe we can achieve more than we think.

We want to bring Pauwels Con­sult­ing to the top in Switzer­land. That can only hap­pen if we are all focused, strong and fit. In our bod­ies and in our minds. That’s the mes­sage I want to stress next Sat­ur­day.

7K at an uphill gra­di­ent of more than 13%.”
How will you plan your race, Bert?

Bert: I think I will run the first 25K rel­a­tive­ly com­fort­ably. But at some point there will be a stretch where we have to climb an uphill gra­di­ent of more than 13% for 7 kilo­me­ters.

13%! Do you think you can still run at 13%?

Bert: Uhm… I think it will be a com­bi­na­tion of fast walk­ing and a lit­tle bit of run­ning (laughs).

“Lit­tle to no room for recov­ery.”
How will you plan your race, Pas­cal?

Pas­cal: I’ve stud­ied the moun­tain slope on the web­site. Dur­ing the race there will be lit­tle to no room for recov­ery.

I will get up there, but at my own pace. I will cer­tain­ly try to run the whole time.

“I’m not a race rab­bit; I’m an endurance run­ner.”
Do you have any per­son­al goals?

Pauwels Consulting - Zermatt Marathon - 2014
Pas­cal: A time is hard to esti­mate, but I’ll try to run the half marathon in 2 hours. I ran the 20K of Brus­sels in 1:41. This is obvi­ous­ly a dif­fer­ent race, but I hope to keep it to under 2 hours.

Bert: I want to run the Zer­matt Marathon in an easy 4 hours (laughs). No, in all seri­ous­ness, I just want to fin­ish the Zer­matt Marathon run­ning.

I’m not a race rab­bit; I’m an endurance run­ner. I’m main­ly doing it for the sym­bol­ic val­ue and because I’ll enjoy the views, the peo­ple and the effort.

I love to push myself to the lim­it. And if you push your­self to the lim­it with oth­ers you will auto­mat­i­cal­ly form a spe­cial bond with the peo­ple around you.

If you run a race like the Zer­matt Marathon then you’ll always have minor prob­lems. Even the most expe­ri­enced marathon run­ner will encounter them dur­ing such a race.

It’s very impor­tant that you solve your prob­lems. If you do, you will imme­di­ate­ly get a men­tal boost and gain more per­spec­tive in your every­day life. Every­day prob­lems imme­di­ate­ly appear much small­er and less urgent.

What are you going to do when you reach the top, Bert?

That’s a good ques­tion. I should say, drink a glass of cham­pagne. But I don’t know about the impact that will have. So, I think I will just enjoy the view and the achieve­ment. (laughs).

And you Pas­cal?

I’m going to cel­e­brate with my friends. I have two friends who are com­ing along. I will drink a glass straight away. No doubt about it! (laughs)

Thanks for the inter­view gen­tle­men and good luck and lots of fun this Sat­ur­day!

Are you curi­ous about how our run­ners will expe­ri­ence the Zer­matt Marathon and half marathon? Then keep a close eye on our web­site. A race report (with lots of pic­tures) will fol­low soon.

Click the but­ton below and you will auto­mat­i­cal­ly receive an email when the report and the pic­tures are up on our web­site.

Do you have ques­tions or com­ments about this inter­view or would like to wish our run­ners good luck? Please don’t hes­i­tate to share your opin­ion using the con­tact form below.

Did you like this arti­cle and do you want to draw extra atten­tion to our run­ners’ achieve­ment? Share this arti­cle with your friends and col­leagues. Thanks in advance!

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