Viktor Röthlin

Self-made Rösti


It is a warm day in May 2007. You are wearing a white cooking apron and toque instead of your usual running attire. Today's training session is rather special. It is taking place in the kitchens of the Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne, and standing alongside you is Head Chef Thomas Zürcher.

Swiss Television is recording the proceedings. This has all come about because you want to share one of your pre-race rituals: the making of your home-made rösti. Right now you are creating crispy rösti from raw potatoes. The way you turn the contents of the pan is working well, thanks to the chef's guiding hand. He tastes the result: «It's good – in its own way. We would perhaps add some fried onions and bacon pieces. But before a marathon, this version probably works well.»

That was a successful training session – you smile into the camera and heap yet more praise onto your wonder-rösti:

«After seeing how well I run, even the Kenyan marathon team has started making a Röthlin rösti before a race.»

Cut. The television people have got what they came for. Your wonder-rösti on a plate before you, you sit in the sun on the terrace and relax.

You won silver at last year's European Championships and want to do well at the forthcoming World Championships in Osaka. The result of the next race always appears to you in a dream. That is why your motto in life is: «If you dream it, you can do it».

The hotel director stirs you from your reverie and sits with you for a few moments. You know each other well. Not just because you like staying at his hotel, but also because he likes running in his spare time. You meet up every now and then at a running event.

The Hotel Schweizerhof also acts as the official marathon hotel during the Lucerne Marathon. This is the only place where runners' start numbers are brought up to their rooms.

In honour of your rösti, the day before the race, the hotel holds what it calls a 'Pa(s)tata Party' featuring pasta and rösti. "Good luck in Osaka," are the director's parting words. It is late. You go up to your room and hope for good – and fast – dreams.

They come true: you come a well-deserved third at Osaka in 2007 and sixth at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, and you finish a spectacular first at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona 2010 – and that after having had to retire from running for a time following a serious case of thrombosis.

Your best time of 2:07:23 makes you the fastest Swiss marathon runner of all time. Sweet – and fast – dreams!

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