“To run or not to run”, was my dilemma as debilitating as that of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “to be or not to be”.  Dare I break my twenty-three year series of running Geneva’s annual Escalade race scheduled on Saturday 1 December 2018?  My brain refused to recall three previous disastrous race-times that shot up, from 48 minutes to more than 55 minute. It’s like a fever. This addiction of running has no treatment.

After considerable trepidation I enrolled and ran the undulating three rounds through the narrow cobbled streets of old Geneva. The forecast temperature being around 10°C, I ran in a T-shirt and shorts. This year most of my over-70 old friends chose to reduce their effort to two rounds. So I was lonely among over 5000 men of six age-groups that surged forward when the cannon fired. Crowds of people encouraged us at the top of their voices. Listening to traditional loud music bands helped to ignore my knee pain.

Chasing Santa Claus

For the third round I entered the Bastions where the climb starts. It became difficult to maintain my steady pace. Wow! A heavenly body over took me. It was Santa Claus himself wearing his bright red cloak and a fluffy head-wear. Can you imagine that he was running and not riding his sleigh carrying gifts drawn by reindeer?

My blood stirred. Beating Santa Claus became my target. Every time I came near him he increased his pace. I wondered if kindly bounteous Santa Claus was enticing me to run faster

In the final stretch I overtook him. Or, was it his advance Christmas gift by letting me cross the finish line ahead of him. What generosity!

Santa Claus overtakes

Miracle! I did not feel as tired as I did in all previous years. I did not care how slow I was this time. Surprises awaited me on Internet. Among those born before 1948, I was ranked 57 out of 62. I clocked 52.57 minutes (7.13 per km) 2 minutes than that of last year. Thank you Santa Claus. There was only one other runner of my age. He was one minute faster.  Then my expectancy shot up. I noticed a runner one year older than I ranked 6th with an incredible time of 35.41 (4.52 per km). Amazing! Unbelievable! I’ll try achieve that time next year. I make the same promise every year at the end of the race.


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