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Ordinary vs. Extraordinary – Cirque Series Engelberg

We’ve all heard it before – incredible athletes taking on incredible challenges, breaking records, setting new standards. But with the more accessible Cirque Series races to Switzerland for the first time this September, it’s time to flip the script and find out what happens when four ordinary runners take on one extraordinary race.


The athlete spirit can be found in all that we do at On – at the Olympics and at our desks, in our products and in the On Lab. We’re all about striving to do better.  


Well, most of us, anyway. 


Some of us aren’t all about breaking new records or doing something that’s never been done before. Nope, some of us just want to make it to the finish line in one piece. And that’s ok.   


But every once in a while, it’s good to go a little outside your comfort zone. With this in mind, we challenged four ordinary On runners to take on one extraordinary run. 



That run? The first Cirque Series event to come to Switzerland. Born in the US, this extraordinary trail race series attracts pros and first-timers alike. The Swiss edition, held in Engelberg and taking place on September 24, is all about breathtaking climbs and equally breathtaking views. The (relatively) manageable distance of 15 km comes with 930 meters of elevation gain, making it tough enough for serious athletes but doable for slightly less serious athletes too. 


So what better way to celebrate the amateur athlete spirit than to challenge four every day On athletes to race in Engelberg? We gave our volunteers two months to get ready, following them every step of the way. 


The Runners


Anna – Social Media Manager


After a year-long break away from running, Anna is using Cirque Series as motivation to get moving again. When she’s not training or at home baking, Anna can usually be found in a Pilates class or exploring the Swiss mountains with Lava, her adorable Australian Shepherd. Yes, Lava does have an Instagram account. 


“I’m using the race as an opportunity to test myself physically and mentally, and to see how far I can go. I know it won’t be easy, but I want to prove to myself that I can do it.”



Jamilah – Happiness Delivery


As the most experienced trail runner of our group, Jamilah will benefit from prior experience. Of course, the Cirque Series course in Engelberg won’t be a walk in the park for her, but you can hear the excitement in her voice once she starts talking about it – which is maybe not something that can be said of the others. 


“I love trail running. Signing up for races gives me a reason to do it even more. When you reach that finish line, you just know you’ve achieved something all on your own.”



Joseph – Copywriter


This upbeat Scotsman heads towards physical challenges like a moth to the flame. If only he had the same attitude when it comes to training for them. Still, he (somehow) managed to complete a middle-distance triathlon without much preparation. So while it’s safe to say he’s no stranger to defying the odds, he isn’t taking his first trail-running rodeo lightly. 


“I think the descent will be the hardest part for me. I’ve never really run uphill or downhill before, so I have no idea how hard it’s going to be.”



Rob – Copywriter


Rob has nearly always played some type of contact sport – most recently hockey and American football. Since joining On, however, he’s lost touch with these and turned his attention to becoming more of an endurance athlete – surprising even himself in the process. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in enthusiasm. He sees the Engelberg race as the perfect way to challenge himself in the mountains.


“I’ve never been in a race and I’ve done maybe two or three trail runs in my life. But I love the idea of racing up a mountain, it’s so intense and physically demanding.”



What they’ll be racing in


The lightweight and versatile trail running shoe for cushioned comfort. Your key to unlocking the trail.
Learn more
Swiss-engineering molded by mountains. Cushioned, comfortable, versatile. For ultra-distance runners who demand more. Featuring the revolutionary FlipRelease™️ system.
Learn more


What’s next for the team?


Our volunteers are all preparing for the race in their own way. For Anna, this will include lots of time on the trails and a weekly spin class. Jo and Rob are taking a different route, blending CrossFit and flat runs. While Jamilah is following a more structured plan that involves yoga, stairs and boxing. 


The methods vary, but the goal is the same – crossing the finish line. 


If you want to find out if they made it up and down the mountain, stay tuned. Or even better: test your own limits and join them by securing  your spot at Cirque Series Engelberg. See you at the top.