Retirement from Elite Distance Running

“Always take one more step than you intended to. Without courage, life is a path without progress”. Sri Chinmoy

I never thought I’d have a 25yr competitive running career when my sister first took me to our village running club as a 12yr old. However, everything comes to an end at some point and today I announce my retirement from elite distance running.

My passion for running, competing and bringing out the best in myself has not only taken me to many places around the world, but has shaped and defined my life and personality way beyond sport.

With more than 10x representing Switzerland at international championships in cross-country and on the track, as well as 2x representing Australia in mountain running championships, I am proud of what I have achieved. I have raced every distance from 800m to the marathon of 42.2km, but it was the intense challenge of the 3000m steeplechase I enjoyed the most. After a victory and PB of 8:59 at the Zatopek Meeting in Melbourne (AUS) in 2008, an achilles injury stopped my track running career early and I  missed out on a national team spot by 1.5 seconds. After ankle surgery, I had my comeback on the road with a promising 2:23 debut marathon on the Gold Coast (AUS) in 2011, before a 3rd place at the Senshu International City Marathon in Osaka (JAP) in 2012 and a 2:22 personal best at the Zurich Marathon in 2013.

I quit my job as an architect in 2014 to focus more on running. Competing at a major championship was the main goal while also building my coaching business to support me financially. While I qualified for and trained with the Swiss National marathon team that year to prepare for the European Championships, I was a reserve runner and did not get to run for the bronze medal winning team. What followed was a string of bad luck of illness and injuries for every marathon I prepared for during the next 3 years. Meanwhile, I had some promising results over the half-marathon distance that kept me going.

“I have enjoyed numerous success and victories including state and national titles, but it is the small failures and setbacks where I grew stronger and learned most about the sport and myself”.

As if 9 years of chronic achilles tendonopathy and multiple ankle injuries weren’t enough, a triple stress fracture in my sacrum and pelvis stopped me shortly before a marathon in 2016. Over the last few years, I have had more MRI’s and X-rays than comeback races and while every comeback race was a glimpse of hope, these were short-lived.

My Gold Coast marathon performance last year was another comeback. While the time of 2:28 was mediocre, it was a step into the right direction and was achieved on a modified training regime from my usual. A sign that despite my age I can still prepare myself for a marathon through a mix of cross-training, strength training and 50% reduced running load. However, the achilles was still unhappy and a couple of treatments and injections where required to get it settled down again. Another few months of rehab and very cautious training build up got me back into shape and a decent running volume by December.

2018 was going to be my last season to aim for a fast international marathon and hopefully make the Swiss team for the European Championships in August. While qualifying for the team wasn’t going to be any easy feat, I wanted to try it one last time. Even if I didn’t run within the required time, a personal best would have still been a satisfying way to call it a day. However, another MRI last week showed a pelvis stress fracture and this has now stopped my marathon preparation once again.

While I am currently slightly broken physically, I am not disappointed that my competitive running career is coming to an end now. With my young family and own business, we have planned many exciting projects to look forward to.

The connection to the wonderful sport of athletics and long distance running will stay strong especially through my involvement as a coach. Continuing sharing my experience with athletes and runners of all levels and helping others achieve their goals has become a great passion of mine.

Thanks to my parents and my wonderful young family for the support in my pursuit over so many years. Special thanks to the fantastic coaches, mentors, national teams and training partners I had in different countries. Last but not least, thanks to the many supporters who have followed my journey and the generous support of my sponsors especially over the last couple of years.

Pat

 

Couple of photos competing in different events and colours for numerous clubs, state and national teams:

Early years in my career running for LG Dottikon, cumulating in winning the Swiss Cross-Country Championships as a Junior (U18) in 1997.

Athletics Club BTV Aarau and representing Switzerland in cross-country and track (1998 to 2007).

Steeplechase in Zofingen (SUI) 2007 before my move to Australia and University of Queensland Athletics Club. Representing Queensland in cross-country and a big victory at Zatopek steeplechase in Melbourne (2008).

Australian Mountain Running Champion and representing Australia at the World Mountain Running Championships in Tirana (ALB) and Commonwealth Mountain Running Championships in Snowdon (WAL) all in 2011.

After ankle surgery, half-marathon become my new favorite distance and winning a couple of races was very honorable.

My first marathon at Gold Coast (2011), 3rd place in Osaka (JAP 2012), personal best in Zurich (SUI 2013), more marathons in Melbourne (2013), Lake Biwa (JAP 2014 and 2015) and Berlin (GER 2014) before finishing off with another Gold Coast Marathon in 2017.