Track Challenge and Some New Drills

In addition to experiencing the magic of St. Moritz, I also learned about some unfamiliar and neat approaches to running during my stay with Ueli last week.


The night I arrived back in Zurich, I watched one of of the coolest sporting events I’ve ever seen: TV Oerlikon’s Track Challenge 2012. Each year, the club celebrates the end of the track season with a 10-race competition. They run on a 250m track, each race ranges from 1 to 4 laps (4x250m, 3x500m, 2x750m, 1x1000m), and they get a 5-minute break in between races. Sounds a little grueling, but simple, right?

Not so much. The beauty of the competition is that the runners don’t know which distance they’re running until 125m (half a lap) to go. Only the bell-ringer has that knowledge as she draws from a basket containing 10 paper slips before each race. She keeps her hand on the bell each time the runners go by, but only rings it when they’re passing her for the last time of that race. The uncertainty, and the fact that finishing places matter but times don’t, result in some very creative and sneaky tactics. If you’re a distance-oriented runner, you might be rewarded from pressing hard from the beginning… but allow a strength runner to sit on you for too long and you might be out of luck. Points are awarded after each race according to finishing order (the better you do, the more points you receive), and those with the highest point totals at the end win cash prizes.


Apparently, the Track Challenge originated as a drunken idea and has since become a highly-anticipated annual tradition. I was so glad to have stumbled into the event last week, as it reminded me that track doesn’t have to be an all-day long affair with often predictable outcomes or serious atmospheres. I think a competition like this would be massively appealing to runners and fans back home and elsewhere, and I hope that the next one I attend will find me spiked up and holding onto one of those random, risky surges.

I also took advantage of Ueli’s expertise in drills, plyos, and other supplementary running exercises during my stay with him. I filmed a bunch of them so that I’d be able to share and replicate them later on, so here are a few I liked the most:

Finally… it probably seems like I screen my hosts for culinary expertise, but I promise I have just been extraordinarily lucky! Ueli was no exception to my string of hosts that are also talented cooks. Here were some of his specialties:


After soaking up as much of Zurich as I possibly could, I’m now staying with Livia, a sweet and fast 25-year-old, in Bern. So far, I’m loving everything about this week- especially getting to know Livi and her training partner Astrid, who just graduated from Florida State. More on them next!

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