The Swiss Alpine Marathon, a lovely, lovely Race!
Gareth Jones and Karen Elvers up in the Swiss Alps
There are lots of ‘hill’ races in Europe and having done many Jungfrau Marathons, we decided, on recommendation, to try the Swiss Alpine Marathon collection, based in Davos Switzerland. Swiss Alpine Marathon have a good selection of events, all in the same few days.There are 5 pure running events (if you can run !) with distances thus : K23, K31, K36, K47 and a biggy K78 including a team of 4 event for the K78. Also 3 Swiss Iron Trail events from T214 (that’s kilometres, with a team of 3 option) and a T133. For lesser mortals, there are events from Davos you can walk or run, a D22, D15 and a D9. Also an L43 over-nighter, point to point into Davos.
Karen and I decided to go for the K47. Described as…..”The highest altitude mountain marathon in Europe leading through four alpine valleys (Dischma, Val Funtauna, Val Sartiv, Sertig) as well as the high-alpine Scaletta and Sertig passes. This is the most demanding marathon in the Alps”. The two climbs were to give 5500′ of climb. Starting at 5120 ‘ (1560 m) we were going up into thinner air. We arrived a week early and acclimatised with some high level runs and walks. Race day was warm and representing MDC, a short circuit of the town found us ascending the first valley. Though a gentle trail ascent, it felt very hot. After Dürrboden check point and feed station, the going was steeper and stony up over the Scaletta Pass (8550′), the zig-zag descent cooled us into the beautiful, wild Val Funtauna. All too soon we were climbing again, up the Val Sartiv, past gushing waterfalls and over the Sertig Pass (8986’) complete with the remains of recent snow, our highest point. Then a sharp stony descent into the gentler Sertig valley and a long undulating run on now tired legs, through cooler woods to enter Davos town where the temperature was 24 deg. Karen was 11th in her age-group in 6 hrs. 53 min. and I was 3rd in mine in 7 hrs. 31 min.
The route was very well marked, with flags, tape and the normal red and white swiss trail markings, with feed/drink stations every 4-5 miles and considering the remoteness at times, well supported by locals.
The race entry also gave us free transport from our arrival in Switzerland to our hotel (and back !). Plus free travel all week beyond Davos into the Engadine valley. Staying in a hotel gave us a guest card covering local buses and 5 high mountain transports. Excellent value. Davos is also a mecca for mountain bikers and they co-exist happily with walkers.
I think we’ll be back!!
See the run here: