Saturday, September 30, 2017

Run to Switzerland

Today I got to participate in a really cool adventure - running to Switzerland.

How is that possible?

Well, we started at Potomac River Running in DC, and ended at the Swiss Embassy!

It was an international adventure that was barely more than a 5k.

Getting There

Although DC is usually a quick metro ride from the suburbs, WMATA's seemingly endless track work and service alerts made it a bit more complicated. 

Orange, Blue, & Silver lines were running trains every 24 minutes, Silver was dumping off at Ballston, and both Orange & Blue were single tracking for parts of their route. We navigated it pretty smoothly in the morning, taking an hour and using two trains, Silver & Orange. (Spoiler alert: the trip home wasn't very pretty...)

Marian, Debbie, Jen, & me at Wiehle Metro Station
(photo courtesy of Marian)

Checking In

We were amazed at how many people were there! I heard that over 300 people had RSVP'd, and I'd guess at least half of them showed up. Everything was well-organized by On Running, the Swiss Embassy, and Potomac River Running.

We checked in and got wrist bands for our pace group, confirmed our emergency contacts, and received bag check tags for stuff we wanted transported to the embassy while we were running.

We looked at the On shoes that were available to demo for the run. Lots of runners tested them out. I tried a pair on and found that they were actually deep enough to accommodate my orthotics. I would have liked to run in them and see what they felt like on the road, but with my toe issues I decided not to risk it over a few miles in the city.

One of the many models available for the run
(photo courtesy of Marian)

Meredith and Rebecca made sure our checked bags were safe

A couple of photo-bombers joined us for our pre-run group shot
(photo taken by Meredith)

Running to Switzerland

The course was a pretty straight shot, and mostly uphill. More than one person noted that it would have been preferable to run from the embassy to the store, which would have been mostly downhill. But that wouldn't have been as festive at the end, of course!

that one downhill was nice...
We were pretty excited that our pace group (the slowest) got to start first. Originally the fastest group was going to start things off, and it was kind of nice to switch things up for a change. We still got to the embassy last, of course, but the time differential wasn't as great as it otherwise would have been. Bonus: I got to see a lot of my faster friends as their pace groups passed ours.

We were also excited to find out that we had a pacer to keep us on the course. Her name is Gloria and she was really fun to run with. She is one of the regular runners from the Potomac River Running DC fun runs and volunteered to be a pacer. Thank you, Gloria!

Dupont Circle: Marian, Gloria, me, Jen, Lynn, Sallie (l to r)
(photo taken by a friendly bystander)

Dupont Circle selfie attempt
(we have no idea what Lynn & Sallie are looking at)
We realized we had never run in DC on the sidewalks. We've run plenty of DC races when the roads are closed, but the frequent stops at the end of the block to wait for the light to change was new. It made our programmed run/walk intervals somewhat irrelevant. It also gave me a renewed appreciation for running in the suburbs, and for the extensive trail system in Reston.

Lynn & Gloria running on William Howard Taft Bridge
(photo courtesy of Marian)

Post-bridge group picture
Jen, Sallie, Lynn, Gloria (l to r)
(photo courtesy of Marian)

Celebrating in Switzerland

Arriving at the embassy was really cool. We were given Swiss passports and were welcomed to Switzerland!

Arriving at the embassy - Gloria, me, & Lynn
(photo courtesy of the Embassy of Switzerland Facebook page)

Runners receiving their passports
(photo from @SwissEmbassyUSA twitter feed)

Representatives from the Swiss Embassy and On Running
welcomed us and spoke about their commitment to innovation.
It was really inspirational!
(Check out the selfie station in the background)
(photo courtesy of Marian)
The celebration included a traditional Swiss brunch, live music, selfie stations, and a lot of camaraderie.  

Runners enjoying the post-run celebration
(photo from @SwissEmbassyUSA twitter feed)

(photo courtesy of Jen)

Hanging out on a Swiss hillside
(photo courtesy of Marian)

Getting Back Home

As spoiled above, the metro trip home was ridiculously long, requiring three trains (Red, Orange, & Silver) and extensive waiting time for each. We also enjoyed spending a lot of time sitting in a tunnel waiting for our turn to go through the single-tracking area. It took about twice as long to get home as it took to get into DC.

Even this long trip was fun, though, because the friends I was with are so great. I was particularly amused by Lynn, Marian, & Debbie comparing the weights of their shoes and putting each other through blind tests to determine which felt lightest. Jen & I were cracking up!

Lynn & Debbie hand "blind" Marian mystery shoes to compare

Everyone's shoes are returned to their proper place

This was such a great adventure! Thank you to On Running, the Swiss Embassy, and Potomac River Running for making it possible. And thank you to my awesome running friends Lynn, Jen, Marian, & Sallie - and new running friends Debbie & Gloria the pacer - for sharing it with me!


  1. What a fun outing despite the train delays! How cool!

  2. OK, that does sound super fun! I love the 5 states runs and that sort of "only in DC" gimmick too ;-)