swiss.crossing - Stage 12/12

Stage 12 – Les Paccots-Le Bouveret – 28.5km (final total 374.95km) / 371mD+ (final total +10'957m D+) / 11 bridges (110) / rock in the shoe 0 (7) / electric cow fence discharge 1 (in Chlini Morgarten/SZ, day 4).

The one where I saw my last cow, THE lake, and where I was stunned…

All you want to know about the swiss.crossing Lake2Lake adventure, is here.

I am joined at the start of the stage by my brother Jérôme, who will accompany me for the first 10 km.

I don’t feel any particular emotion at the start of this last day, I think I’m still a bit concentrated, while fearing the last flat part.

Passing by the Paccots, it seems that it is the day of the “in-alp”, the cows carry their “Sunday bells”, that is to say the most beautiful bells, for the ceremonies, and besides some farmers are in traditional clothes of armailli.

We start by going up in the forest, it goes rather well, I feel good, and we cross the bridge of Flégère, red, in the middle of the woods.

It continues up in the forest and then we are in the alpine pastures, where some cows start to run towards us, probably excited to see us, then we arrive at the Marais des Tenasses, which we cross on a rickety wooden footbridge, surrounded by stretches of flowers.

And here we are in the canton of Vaud, the tenth of the adventure.

Shortly after, in the hamlet of Lally, I see for the first time the Dents-du-Midi Moutain Range, at the foot of which I live. It smells like home.

Barely 1 km further, almost by surprise, I see Lake Geneva, deep blue, almost 1000m lower. This time, it’s there, I just have to run down to its shores.

The descent is steep, through the forest, with many steps. I greet what I think is the last cow (well seen, it will turn out to really be the last one…), among hundreds, that I will have met on my way, then we continue to go down to Blonay, before reaching Montreux by the heights.

Jérôme leaves me at the Montreux train station, and it’s alone that I run the last 100 meters to the Geneva Lake shore.

And it is only there that the first emotions arrive, but I fight against them, there are still more than 12 km to run. I enjoy the view on the lake, very peaceful today, the so familiar view on the so familiar mountains, and on the other side of the lake, the village of Le Bouveret, which I still have to reach. 

I take a break, on the footbridge in front of the Freddie Mercury statue, on the market place of Montreux.

It’s my last picnic, clearly the least quiet one considering the crowd around, but it’s by the lake, the other lake, the final one…

I try to stay focused, because I know that the long flat sector that awaits me is not going to be so easy to negotiate, I don’t want my body nor my mind to think that it’s over.

I am very divided, between the desire to sit there at the edge of the lake, so that it is finished but not really, and the desire to get up, to put my backpack on, and to run again until the end of this adventure.

My throat is closing up. My eyes are wet. I shouldn’t. Not yet. Not yet. I must run. Still run, run again, and enjoy again. Every kilometer, every meter, every single step.

It’s hard to start again, and for the first time since more than 360km, I run on known paths… It’s rather slow during the 2–3 km until the famous and magnificent Chillon Castle hanging on its rock on the lake. After yet another photo break, I set off again, with a little more energy.

Villeneuve, 7km to go. 

Then it’s the long crossing of the Grangettes plain, between forests and fields. I’m impatient, I’m not doing too bad, around 10km/h… I’m impatient and anxious.

Here is the Rhône River. The beautiful metal bridge, and here I am in the 11th canton, back in “mine”, in Valais…

1km. The very last one. My water bottles are almost full, but I stop at a fountain to refill them… as if I want to make all this last a little longer… The last fountain…

Then I run along the canal, towards the lake and the quays… the bridge over the canal, a right turn… and a child who starts to run beside me with a Swiss flag in his hands. I don’t understand, I don’t recognize him right away, but it’s Gaspard, my nephew, Jérôme’s son. He hands me the flag, I take it, he runs beside me, and I start to hear shouting… and there at about 50 meters, the last ones of 374'900 meters, I see a hedge of friends and family shouting and applauding… Beautiful, magical… What a welcome… Wow… I’m a bit lost… surprised… so many people, so diverse, all gathered by my lover… I greet, I thank, I drink a little water… a little confused, uncomfortable to be “the star”, but happy of this arrival in “fanfare”… A beer, then 2–3–4… hydration, it’s important, hydration… A sublime end of day full of joy and love… until the magnificent sunset on this lake that I came back to from so far…

Thank you. Thank you my body for carrying me across the country. Thank you the country for being so beautiful and peaceful. Thank you to all those who sent me messages and supported me. Thank you to my lover who has been living with this project for so many months, and who still finds the energy to support me so much and to give me such a beautiful surprise…

A dream adventure. A dream that became an adventure. 

I dreamed big, often thinking that I was dreaming too big. But one morning in a Bernese forest, I knew I had to dream big, because even if you dream too big, this dream makes you grow, and you will end up being perfectly sized to it…

For years, running has made me bigger. Yes, running makes you bigger. And makes the world smaller. I have never felt it so much…

And as I don’t know who said, “success is not to have finished, but to have had the courage to start”…

And what better way to finish than to talk about beginning…

Lodging : home…


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To look at the planned route (zoom-in) for this stage, on the national swiss map, click here or on the map


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