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.

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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.

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