1602? Course de L’Escalade?
From a young age I was made aware of the running race staged though the cobbled streets of the Old City of Geneva, through the stories told by my uncle from his running exploits, but little did I know of what it stood for and what the celebration was all about.
Arriving in Geneva to race it did not take long to realise the significance of the run. Fully embraced by 35,000 participants not including the scores of supporters, who all enjoy and create an atmospheric weekend of events; the largest running race in Switzerland.
Amongst the sound of ringing cowbells and canon-fire, waves of enthusiastic runners of all ages took to the streets of the city, testing themselves against each other, against the steep rises and descents, twists and turns and cobbles of the historic centre.
The joy and celebration was all there to be seen. For many it was not possible to compete at full speed due to the sheer volume of runners channelled along the narrow racecourse, but it was that same big body of runners who created the spirit of the day. The coming together of all ages, sharing the experience of running through the beloved city, celebrating the history of Geneva and how much can be achieved in unity.
After all L’Escalade celebrates the defeat of the surprise attack on the city by troops sent by Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, during the night of 11 December 1602. According to Genevois legend, everybody worked together, including an enterprising lady (Mère Royaume) who seized a large cauldron of boiling hot vegetable soup and poured it on soldiers climbing up the walls of the city!
L’Escalade celebrations include a large marmite (cauldron) made of chocolate and filled with marzipan vegetables and candies wrapped in the Geneva colours of red and gold. With such treats on offer no wonder everybody wants to partake.
To race within this atmosphere and a truly cultural occasion is just pure fun!