Distance: 48 miles on mountain trails
Altitude: 1500m-2739m (5000-9000 ft)
This year (2015) the Swissalpine celebrated its 30th run. This event also offers shorter races (42, 30 and 10K). What I like at the Swissalpine is that the registration fee of $ 170 includes the train tickets from the place of origin in Switzerland and back to where you started the journey. Assuming you arrived at Zuerich Airport, the train ticket includes the ride to Davos and back to the airport. In addition, the fee includes local transportation by bus/train/cable cars during the week of the race. This is a good deal!
Hotels located in and around Davos offered special race packages. I stayed at the Hotel Schatzalp, which was recently featured in the movie “Youth”. This is an old hotel which during the 19th century served as a high class TB clinic. It is located above Davos and it can be reached by a short train ride from the main street of Davos. I paid a total of a little more than $ 1000 for my stay from Sunday to Sunday. This included a buffet breakfast and a three course dinner. There was no TV in my room but free Wifi was available throughout the hotel.
The 7 a.m. start in the high-school stadium of Davos
included the K78 and K30 runners. A large, exiting group of runners showed up on this beautiful July weekend. Because there are many full service aid and water stations, only a few runners carried a hydration pack or hand held water bottle. Because I prefer to have small bottles and a rain/wind resistant jacket with me when hiking or running through alpine terrain, I carried my NATHAN FIRECATCHER hydration pack.
The maximum time allowed for this race is 13 hours. Intermediate cut-off times were published but I don’t know if they were strictly enforced.
According to my plan (see picture right, my planed vs actual times), I should have been back in Davos at 6.30 p.m., after 11.5 hours. It took me actually 12 hours 27 minutes because I was much slower during the final miles than I expected. I simply ran out of gas. The downpour during the last hour of the race didn’t help either.
The first 30K are slightly downhill and because the 30K runners are sharing the trail, it is tempting to go out too fast early in the race.
The trail on this part of the race is very runnable and can easily accommodate the large number of runners. This is a good time to take in the scenery without watching out for rocks and roots.
From the town of “Filisur”, KM 30, at 3400ft, the climbing to the village of “Berguen” and then above the tree line to the mountain hut “Keschhuette” at 8635ft begins. The trail eventually turns single-track and reaches its highest point on the “Sertigpass” at 8990ft. At this point of the race my energy level was low and the risotto served at the aid station was the best I ever had.
The downhill run to the bottom of the valley is very technical but not too steep. Meadows with cows and goats make this an enjoyable run.
The Swissalpine takes you through breathtaking views on mostly runnable trails. The large number of participants doesn’t really disturb the sense of being in a wonderful alpine environment.
This is a big event with many races. Someone looking for solitude during the race shouldn’t choose this event. I was a little disappointed by the runners’ trail manners. Wrappers dropped on the trail and runners not announcing that they would like to pass on single tracks was somewhat disturbing to me.
But if you’re looking for an ultra trail race in the Swiss Alps which is well organized and runnable, this is the right race for you. The fee is very reasonable when throwing in all the travel arrangements, which are not cheap in Switzerland. The hotels offer attractive weekly packages and if your partner and friends want to join in the fun but don’t want to run an Ultra, they can choose one of the shorter races. Run fun for the entire family…..