To say that there’s an abundance of trail races in Switzerland would be an understatement. The list of events goes on and on, seemingly without end. Below is a reasonably comprehensive list of nearly four dozen events, which range from village-based gatherings to the local mountain hut, to internationally renowned, world-class events. Interested in planning a trail-running vacation to the Swiss Alps? Take some time to enjoy this rundown, and pick a race or two! We’ll help you plan your trip, assist you in negotiating various registration requirements, and take care of the details. As always, don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have questions.
This wintertime race is held in the town of Arosa, Switzerland, which is located to the Southeast of Zurich. Each race starts and ends at the upper lake. Racers can choose from a variety of categories, including Nordic walking, snowshoeing, and running.
Race website http://www.zugerberg-classic.ch/infos_lauf.aspx
Starting in the center of the historic Swiss city of Zug, The course passes through the town, then starts climbing steeply through forests, then pastures with views of the lake, Zugersee. The race finishes at Zugerberg, the local peak with a view of the surrounding region of Switzerland, including the Zugersee and many of the snowy peaks of the Berner Oberland. A funicular provides the post-race descent to the valley. Like many of the smaller trail races in Switzerland, the Zugerberg Classic is organized by the local ski club– in this case, the Skiclub Oberwil-Zug. The day after the mountain run, a mountain bike race takes place on a longer route, with the same finish, atop Zugerberg.
Race website http://www.trailvalleedejoux.ch
The Trail Vallée de Joux takes place in the rolling country of the Jura mountains, in the french-speaking canton of Vaud. The three races pass through a protected nature reserve, and are 90% on trails. Though the courses do include some classic summits of the region, in general the Jura tends to be a bit more rolling, with less vertical, than other alp races.
Organized by the local ski club of Sembrancher, this tough local race climbers steeply up the dramatic Le Catogne peak near the villages of Sembrancher and Orsieres. Nordic walkers, hikers and families are encouraged to participate. The event is part of the Valais Cup series of steep trail races.
Race website http://www.bluemlisalp-lauf.ch
This 16-km course is roughly two-thirds trail, one-third road, and runs up the stunning Kien valley, in the UNESCO Berner Oberland World Heritage site. It finishes in the tiny, high Alp village of Griesalp. The race can be run as a relay, and a category exists for Nordic walkers as well.
Race website http://www.lodrino-lavertezzo.ch/
This mountain run starts in the village of Lodrino, running through the village on a paved road. Then, it’s onto trails that climb steeply for nearly 2,000 meters to the panoramic viewpoint at Forcarella di Lodrino. From this high point it’s all downhill– first steeply, then more gently– along a grassy path to the finish at the Piazza di Lavertezzo. An optional shorter race, the Lodrino-Forcarella Mountain Race, is held the same day. The run finishes at the high vista, and runners can then enjoy the walk down to Lavertezzo.
The Seelisburg mountain run begins in Rütli, a meadow on the shore of Lake Lucerne. The location is famous in Switzerland for being the site of the origin of Swiss independence in 1307. The run finishes atop the alp summit of Laueli. The event is another in the central Switzerland trail races series, and includes 2 km of paved road. It is organized by the Seelisberg ski club.
Race website http://www.niesenlauf.ch
Want to run the longest staircase in the world? Apparently, you’re not alone! One of the most interesting trail races anywhere, is already filled for 2014. Runners start every 20 seconds, and the course heads directly to the summit of the Niesen, known as “Switzerland’s Pyramid” on a staircase alongside the funicular tracks. Run the Alps Blog Post: The longest staircase run in the world!
Race website http://www.vitodojo.ch
This year marks the 11th edition of the Grand Parcours race is in the Valais region of Switzerland. It starts in the village of Vionnaz and climbs to the border of Switzerland and France at 1,913 meters. There is a 10 km Petite Parcours, as well as a kid’s fun run.
The race ends in the peaceful village of Torgon, which is situated at 1,100 meters. The town overlooks the Rhône valley, Lake Geneva, and has a splendid panoramic view of the surrounding Franco-Swiss Alps.
Race website http://www.tropheeduscexcarro.ch
The Trophee du Scex-Carro is a small, community-based race that includes short, 2.4 km course for local school children. The race beings in the village of Dorénaz, not far from the Rhone valley city of Martigny, and finishes at just under 2,000 meters elevation, at the Cabane du Scex-Carro.
Race website http://www.traildespaccots.ch/
Taking place in the canton of Fribourg, in the “prealp” region of Switzerland, this course features more rolling terrain than most alp trail races. Superb vistas include the Blanc massif in the distance and, closer to home, the expanse of Lake Geneva. Three distances, entertainment, and raffles make this one of the livier events of the early season alp trail runs.
Race website http://www.defi-vdt.ch/fr
A beautiful run through the Val-de-Travers region of the Jura mountains on the border of France, the Défi International has developed into a full weekend of races. The Défi now consists of several races, over the weekend: a 75 km Trail de L’Absinthe with 2,952 meters of climbing, a 42 km marathon with 1,346 meters of climbing, a 21 km half marathon with 722 meters of vertical, a 12 km race with 460 meters of climbing, and a children’s race, ranging from 300 meters to just under 3 km. The marathon may also be run as a 3-person relay, of 14 km per runner. Often overlooked, the Jura is a friendly, accessible range– less steep than its famous neighbors nearby, with fabulous trail running opportunities through a pastoral and bucolic setting.
Race website http://www.lgt-alpin-marathon.li
Part of the three-race 33M-Cup mountain marathon series, The LGT marathon takes place in the mountains of the Principality of Liechtenstein, tucked between Switzerland and Austria. The race can be run as a relay, breaking down into 25 kilometer and 17 kilometer segments. The first half of the course starts in the town of Bender, and runs along the Rhine river, through the village of Vaduz, past vineyards of the Prince of Liechtenstein and the famed castle of Vaduz. From there, runners climb through the mountains to the finish at Malbun. The full marathon course is roughly one-third each, of pavement, village path and tougher mountain trails. The half marathon includes a higher percentage of roads. An added bonus? There aren’t many races you can finish, after which you can say you’ve run from one border of the country to the other!
Race website http://lenzerheide.com/marathon/de/home
Starting in the town of Chur, the marathon climbs steadily through alp pastures to the rock and ice covered Parpan Rothorn. Despite being much less well-known compared to marathon events like Swissalpine, the race is considered one of the toughest marathons in Europe. A shorter race, the Rothorn mountain run, finishes atop Parpan Rothorn, 11.5 km into the marathon course– but up at 2,865 meters.
Running from the Schattdorf through Haldi to finish at Butzenboden, the Haldi Mountain Run is part of the central Switzerland mountain running series, and takes place not far from beautiful Lake Lucerne. The race also feature will feature a shorter, kids run, of 2.6 km with 274 meters of climbing.
Race website http://www.tpav.ch/parcours
Starting at the church in the ancient town of Saxon, Pierre Avoi is one of the earliest mountain races of the season that includes a significant vertical challenge, climbing high into the mountains above the Rhône valley, to the peak for which the run was named. The race is well-supported, with four aid stations. The route often includes some running over spring snow, and features stunning views of the famous valley and adjacent peaks of the Valais. Many Swiss runners view Pierre Avoi as their first serious race of the season.
Race website http://www.bannalper-berglauf.ch
One of the events in the central Switzerland trail race series, the Bannalper Berglauf is a small community race that starts in the village of Wolfenschiessen, and climbs steadily to mountain hotel and restaurant at Urnerstafel. There are four aid stations over the course of the climb. Proceeds benefit the youth ski racing and running programs of the Bannalalp ski club.
Race website http://www.montblancmarathon.net/en/
Though just over the border in France, the Mont Blanc Marathon is one of the world’s best-known series of mountain races, and certainly worth noting here. Events include a Vertical Kilometer, a 10 km, 23 km, 42 km and 80 km distance. There are even three children’s event, ranging from 800 meters to 3 km. Part of 2014 World Skyrunning Championships, the five events are based in Chamonix, France, the internationally-recognized home of alpinism.
Race website http://www.aletsch-halbmarathon.ch/en/index.php
Started in 1986, Aletsch is one of the older trail races in Switzerland, and takes places in the dramatic Jungfrau Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO work heritage site. The route climbs over a thousand meters, with views of several 4,000 meter peaks, and the stunning Aletsch glacier below the course. Check out Thom Fresnau’s Run the Alps Blog post on the Aletsch Half Marathon.
Race website http://www.montreuxlesrochersdenaye.ch/
Rochers de Naye begins in the beautiful, small city of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva, home to the internationally-acclaimed Montreux Jazz Festival. From there, it climbs steadily, with magnificent views of the lake, and finishes high above the region, at the dramatic Rochers de Naye peak. The race annual draws at least several serious, elite runners, and is a local favorite, having taken place for more than three decades.
Race website http://www.zermattmarathon.ch/index.php?id=3&L=1
Popular and extremely well-organized events, the Zermatt Marathon and Ultra-marathon are part road race, part trail race. Both are major uphill challengesâ€”the marathon climbs 1,944 meters, and the ultramarathon, 2,458 meters over an additional 3.4 km. The first half of the course follows the road from St. Niklaus to Zermatt. In Zermatt, crowds of cheering onlookers line the route, while the course flattens briefly for a few kilometers. Outside of town, the route then steepens once again, following mostly dirt roads, with some sections of trails. The marathon finishes at the famed Riffelberg hotel, high on the massif opposite the Matterhorn. An amazing 29 4,000 meter peaks are within view at the finish. Registration includes free train transportation around the Zermatt area, a pasta meal and other treats. Registration Deadline: Registration closes when limits of 1,600 for the marathon, 600 runners for the ultramarathon and 200 runner for the two-person marathon relay are reached.
Race website http://www.scstans.ch/index.php/blstartseite
Starting in the village of Stans not far from the shores of Lake Lucerne, Stanserhorn Mountain Run is about one-third paved road, and two-thirds mountain trail. It is a classic local race in German-speaking Switzerland, finishing atop Stanserhorn peak, with a fabulous view of the lake and surrounding peaks of the Nidwalden canton.
Race website http://www.swissjuramarathon.com/
Consisting of seven stages for the full 350 km, the Swiss Jura Marathon is an even that crosses a huge swath of Switzerland, from Geneva to Basel. Running along the spine of the Jura range, the event takes in some of the most beautiful, rolling terrain in the entire country. The Jura are lower mountains than the nearby Alps, but no less scenic. Villages, farms and expansive views are all parts of the tour. More an adventure run than a race, timing is nonetheless provided by a race chip. Just finishing the Swiss Jura Marathon is considered a big win!
Race website http://en.4trails.de
Ready to trail run over the Alps, and through three countries in four days? The Salomon Four Trails stage races begins in Germany, passes through Austria, and wraps up in Switzerland. The event draws seasoned professional runners, but also plenty of amateurs out for a great adventure. This is a well-known event that covers some dramatic Alp terrain, not too far from the city of Innsbruck. The route includes high passes above treeline, and offers stunning, wide-open views of this section of the Alps, with a different village to visit each day. The route starts in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, then heads to to Ehrwald, Imst, and Landeck, Austria, and wraps up in Samnaun, Switzerland.
Race website http://www.trailvsb.com
A new trail race series, Verbier-St. Bernard was started in 2008, and has proven itself to be a popular new addition to the Swiss trail running circuit. It now consists of three different events, using the famous resort village of Verbier as the finish point for all events. X-Alpine, the longest race, also starts in Verbier and can be run as a two-person relay. X-Alpine is truly a remarkable race, consisting of an enormous loop through some of the most beautiful mountain terrain and villages in the Valais, on the border with Italy. The race passes by a number of alpine huts, through the villages of Champex, La Fouly and Bourg St. Pierre, as well as the history monastery at St. Bernard Pass . The Traversée, at 61 km a very popular distance, starts in La Fouly and followa the X-Alpine route to Verbier, passing through wild alpine pastures, high cols, mountain huts and the Col St. Bernard. Liddes-Verbier is a shorter run, using the end of the TVBS route, and finishing with all the other races, in Verbier. The well-organized weekend even includes a “Discovery Trail” run for kids, around Verbier and including a few, short trail sections, as well.
Race website http://www.eigerultratrail.ch/en/
A relatively new event, all three Eiger Ultra races start in the world-famous mountain village of Grindelwald, at the base of the North Face of the Eiger. All routes includes spectacular views of the Eiger and nearby Berner Oberland peaks. Both the 51 km and 101 km routes include long section of alpine running, along ridges, pastures and some of the most scenic views anywhere in this region. These races are now well-known, and a draw a number of elite runners each year. There is also an associated training camp, and other events, as part of the well-orchestrated Eiger Ultra experience.
Race website http://www.swissalpine.ch/
More a celebration of mountain running than a single event, Swissalpine brings together no fewer than 10 events over the course of a single week. Races range from a challenging 78 km mountain course, down to a mini fun run for kids. In between are two 42 km events, a 30 km mountain run, 21 km road race, and several nordic walking and fun run events. A series of activities take place over the course of the week of Swissalpine, from guided tours of various courses to workshops and exhibitions. Davos turns itself over to runners during the Swissalpine event, and at night the town has a party atmosphere for the evening before and after races. It’s quite a scene! Run the Alps Blog Posts: K42: A Short Story Swissalpine Marathon: Random Impressions Swissalpine Half
Race website http://www.stockhorn-halbmarthon.ch/
Starting in the village of Oberwil, this half marathon runs past farms and pastures, by the remnants of the famous Weissenburg Spa and forested woodlands. The course runs along several mountain lakes, finally finishing atop the Stockhorn summit.
Race website http://trail.crossduvelan.ch
The Cross du Velan takes place above the Entremont valley, one of the most stunning valleys in all of Switzerland. At the end of the valley is the famous St. Bernard Monastery, high in the alps on the border with Italy. The course starts in the little hamlet of Bourg St. Pierre, passes through long pastures, climbs to the Cabane de Mille on the Tour des Combins hiking route, and then traverses high above the valley, incorporating a high alpine setting, while passing Cabane du Valsorey and Cabane du Vélean. A 21 km race, ending at Azerin, is also available as an option. Runners have the option of doing the 44.1 km route as a two-person relay team, switching at the midway point of Azerin.
Race website www.berglauf-engelberg.ch
Starting in beautiful Engleberg, ringed by mountains, the Berglauf Engleberg climbs fairly steadily over its nearly 9 km course, to the finish at Rugghubelhutte, a high mountain hut managed by the Swiss Alpine Club. The race is another in the series of events that comprise the central Switzerland trail race series. From the top, racers receive a complimentary ride down the mountain on the lift.
Race website http://www.combin.ch/
7.8 km long, this is one of the shortest trail races in Switzerland, but also one of the steeper, with nearly 1,200 meters of climbing over that distance. The race is run in commemoration of local guide Louis Wuilloud, who ran up to the hut in a then record of 1 hour, 45 minutes, to deliver the sad news of the passing of the hut guardian’s son. Eleven years later, the race started, and has continued to this day, making it one of the longer running races in Switzerlandâ€”over 45 years! A Grand Tropheee des Combins has been run in some years, starting in Fionnay, climbing past the hut, over Col des Otanes, down past the gigantic Mauvosin dam, and finishing back in the village. 21.4km long, the race has a 1,495 meters of climbing. The Trophee event is a great local race, with a fun spirit. It is organized by the local Gran Combin ski club, who note, “Trail racing doesn’t add years to our life, but life to our years.”
Race website http://www.thyon-dixence.ch
Thyon to Dixence is considered one of the more beautiful trail races in the Valais region of Switzerland. Coming in the middle of the season, and with scenic and relatively short course, it’s become a very popular race. The run starts high on a ridge, and continues above treeline, on a combination of roads and mountain paths, through pastures and alpine areas, to the immense Dixence dam—the finish, in fact, is atop the dam itself. Along the way, runners catch views of the glacier-covered Dent Blanche and the Matterhorn.
Race website http://www.arth-online.ch/berglauf/
The International Rigi Mountain Run is perhaps the best-known in the series of events that comprise the central Switzerland trail race series, drawing over 300 runners each year. The run begins on paved roads in the town of Arth on the shore of Lake Zug, and finishes atop the popular Rigi Kulm. The event is one of the older trail races in the region, too, having first been held in 1984. The International Rigi Mountain Run is a steep push, climbing nearly 1,400 meters in just over 11 km, on a mix of roads and paths. The reward, however is not insignificant– arriving at the summit of the Rigi, with stunning views of central Switzerland.
Race website http://www.glacier3000run.ch
Glacier 3000 has a little bit of everything! It starts in Gstaad, one of the more posh mountain resorts in the Swiss alps. Within minutes, though, the route takes one past diary farms, over hills on rolling single-track and dirt roads, then through the village of Gsteig. At the halfway mark, the course suddenly gets steep! First on a dirt road, then mountain paths, and past a Swiss Alpine Club, the race finishes with, yes, nearly a full kilometer on glacier, before reaching the finish line at the top of the Glacier 3000 ski area. Tram rides and a free bus take runners back to Gstaad for a celebratory lunch in the town square.
Race website http://www.sierre-zinal.com
Sierre-Zinal is, without a doubt, one of the most famous trail races in the world, and for good reason, for the course includes some of the best scenery, anywhere, passing through small alp villages, mountain pastures, and with striking views much of the way. Sierre-Zinal is also one of the longest-running trail races in Europe, having started more than 40 years ago. Called the “Race of the Five, 4,000 meter peaks,” runners can catch sight of five of the most famous peaks of the alps: the Weisshorn, Obergablehorn, Dent Blanche, Zinalrothhorn, and the Matterhorn. The route begins in the Rhone valley, climbs steeply to gain a ridge, then stays above treeline, until plummeting over 500 meters to the mountain village of Zinal, at the end of the valley and near the Italian border. Considered the “New York Marathon” of the alps trail racing scene, the race routinely draws the best trail runners in the world. Sierre-Zinal Run the Alps blog post.
Race website http://www.berglauf-cup.ch
This race spans Monday thru Friday in Zuri Oberland. Each day’s distance varies from 3.6 kilometers to 5.4 kilometers with elevation changes ranging from 285 meters to 535 meters. Over a work week you will run a total of 23 kilometers and 1,935 meters of elevation change. Each race is hosted at a different location, making this a great option for seeing a bit more of the area. This is a race for runners who thrive off of short steep speed runs, leaving you with plenty of time to check out the sights.
Race website http://www.irontrail.ch
Swiss Iron Trail is best known for its demanding ultras, which pass through high alpine terrain and can be quite exposed to weather and environmental challenges. Racers opting for the longer distances should be very well prepared, and, obviously, well trained. The races take place in one of the most beautiful regions of Switzerland– the quiet Engadine, encompassing towns such as Davis, St. Moritz and many smaller villages. The 203 km ultra starts and finishes in Davos, running an enormous circle around the region. The shorter races all start along at various points along the 203 km course, and finish in Davos. The entry free includes transportation from anywhere in Switzerland to Davos, as well as transportation to the start, from Davos.
Race website http://www.emmentaler-halbmarathon.ch/
This loop race starts and ends in the Swiss village of Ziel. The course brings you along hills and ditches, past isolated farms, over gravel, fields and hiking trails. It offers charming views as you climb towards the high point of the race at 1,300 meters just before Hohmatt. This race prides itself on getting you away from the everyday hustle and bustle of life. Immerse yourself in a different world for the pure pleasure of running in nature.
Race website http://www.supertrailmfrm.com/?lang=en
Just a few years old, the Supertrail du Barlatay is already proving itself to be quite popular– due, no doubt, to the scene terrain over which it passes. Running through the high country of Pays-d’Enhaut, in the French-speaking Vaud canton, this event consists of three races: the Ultra trail du Barlatay, the roughly marathon length Trail du Barlatay, and the Trail Découverte, at 31 km. Passing by four lakes, the races take in this beautiful region of grassy peaks, 360-degree views and scattered, small pre-alp villages. The ultra begins in the darkness of early morning. The Supertrail has a strong emphasis on care for the environment, and the Découverte, or Discovery race, is done without bib or timing.
Race website http://www.themountainman.ch
With three events over the course of the day, the Mountainman is one of the best-known trail events in all of Switerland. It also serves as the Swiss trail running championships, so the best Swiss mountain runners will be taking place, as well! All three courses are almost entirely on mountain trail, with a variety of dramatic views of much of this area of the country. Each course passes through a variety of farmlands, forests and small villages, and is extremely well-supported, with enthusiastic volunteers. The finish includes a tough, final uphill push to the summit of famed Mount Pilatus– a dramatic completion that includes no shortage of cheering onlookers. When you’re done, the steepest cog railway in the world provides the descent to the valley. Run the Alps Blog Post: Defying Expectation: An Ultra Marathon, Some Buttermilk, and a Helicopter Ride.
Race website http://www.engadiner-sommerlauf.ch/index3.asp
One of the flatter mountain courses, with 200 meters of elevation loss, this race passes through beautiful forests above 1800 meters, in the broad valley of the upper Engadine. The course stays mainly on dirt roads, and passes through the classic alpine resort of St. Moritz. An optional 10k is available, and even a very short kid’s race!
Race website http://www.inferno.ch
Part of what is considered one of the world’s hardest triathlon, the Inferno trail race cover the steep portion of the running segment of the triathlon route. The start is in Lauterbrunnen, at the start of one of the most photographed valleys in all of Switzerland. From there, the route climbs through the village of Murren, above the steep walled valley and then directly up to the summit of the Schilthorn, the 2,970-meter high peak popularized during the ski scene in the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The race is named for the world-renowned Inferno ski race, first run in 1928, which starts atop the Schilthorn.
Race website http://www.ultraks.com
A new trail race on Switzerland’s summer mountain run scene, the Ultraks race offers a variety of distances for all levels, starting and finishing in the world-famous village of Zermatt and including classic views of the Matterhorn along the route. The 16km run passes through outer villages, as well as some countryside, an above tree-line stretch, and the beautiful Riffelalp resort. The middle-length run incorporates more mountain terrain, and includes the remarkable suspension bridge over Gletscher Gorge. The 46 km course is a real mountain test piece, with multiple climbs, starting with a tough uphill the famed Gornergrat viewpoint, and finishing with a plummeting downhill to Zermatt for the finish.
Race website http://www.ultratrailmb.com
First run only in 2003, many now consider the UTMB to be the world’s most famous trail race. Encircling Mont Blanc, the race starts and finishes in Chamonix, a town long-considered to be the home of alpinism. It passes through Courmayeur, Italy, Champex, Switzerland, and includes several high passes around the Mont Blanc massif. Today, the UTMB series includes a variety of other races which take place during the last week of August. Entry is by lottery, and each race requires a specific number of UTMB points, which are allocated based on the difficulty of designated qualifying races. The other events include: CCC: Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (101 km +6,100 m): A race on a portion of the UTMB route from Courmayeur, Italy, into Switzerland, and finishing in Chamonix. TDS: Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (119 km +7,250 m): A race that follows the Grande Randonnée hiking paths, crossing though the mountainous Mont-Blanc, Beaufort, and Tarentaise regions, and the Aosta valley countryside. OCC: Orsières – Champex – Chamonix (53 km +3,300 m): The shortest of the UTMB series, the OCC is a new race that begins in Switzerland, spends most of its time on the Swiss side of the border, save for the finish over the French border and into Chamonix. PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon (approx. 300 km +28,000 m): A larger and more wild version of the UTMB, the PTL offers a demanding alpine challenge. The route is not marked, but participants are given GPS waypoints and a map. The event must be done in teams of 2-3 participants. The qualifying race? The UTMB itself– or the insanely challenging Tor des Geants.
Race website http://www.sardona-ultratrail.com
This unique race gives you the option to shoot for a longer distance, but the flexibility to change your mind while on the course. Weather, nutrition, and training can all affect you on race day. This race offers four distances: the 82 km-long Spitzmeilen X-Treme, the Banners Stock Ultra Trail at 58 km, the Pizol Trail Marathon at 42 km, and lastly the Gamidaurspitz Trail Half Marathon at 21 km. As long as you have registered for a longer distance race you can cut your distance short and place in a shorter distance. Registered for the 82 km X-Treme but at kilometer 50 you hit a wall? No problem! Push through those remaining 8 kilometers to successfully finish the Banners Stock Ultra Trail race at 58 kilometers. This is a great race for those toying with the idea of racing a longer distance.
Race website http://en.transalpine-run.com/
There may be no more famous stage trail race in the world. The Gore-Tex Transalpine Run includes eight villages, and runs through some of the most scenic areas of the alps, from Germany to Austria and finishing in Italy. The course varies from year to year, and often includes Switzerland, as well. Runners enter as a two-person team, and the event is fully supported, with supplies and baggage moved from town to town, daily. Coming nearly 300 km in the Alps, this race has it all, from forests to high alpine passes, cruising through pastures, though uphill pushes– you name it. Famously well supported, the Transalpine run is considered one of the all-time classic Alp trail running events. For 2014, the towns are as follows:
Race website http://www.nendaztrail.ch/
Starting in the village of Nendaz, above the centuries-old Rhône valley city of Sion, the Nendaz course climbs out of the valley, passes Lake Tracouet, climbs Dent de Nendaz, and then incorporates an airy descent and a second climb, to the Saint Laurent hut. The route continues past the Prafleuri hut, passes the Dixence dam, through high alpine territory, and then descends to Nendaz.
A shorter, 30 km option climbs from Nendaz to the Pra da Dzeu meadow forest, passes through the village of Cleves. There are two significant climbs– one up the Basso d’Alou, and a second to Combatseline.
Race website http://www.ovronnaz-rambert.ch
Ovronnaz-Rambert starts in the small, high mountain village of Ovronnaz, and goes steeply uphill, finishing at Cabane Rambert, a classic Swiss Alpine Club hut. The route leaves town on a paved road, turns to dirt, and finally trails as it climbs steep past pastures and alp scenery, to finish with a remarkable view of the Valais alps, and the nearby Grand Combin. From the hut, racers walk back to Ovronnaz after the event.
Race website http://www.sc-malters.ch/index.php?page=265
Part of the central Switzerland trail race series, the Möserlauf is organized by the Malters ski club, home to the start of the race and a suburb of the beautiful small Swiss city of Lucerne. The race is truly a home-grown affair, with sometimes just several dozen runners, and the winners awarded a bouquet of flowers.
Race website http://www.coursevcv.ch
The VCV connects Villeret in the Bernese Jura (760 meters), to Chasseral (1,607 meters). Begin by running through the famous gorge of the Combe Grède before turning westward for the races first ascent, which leads runners to steep turning trails, beautiful Jura forests, pastures, wooded pastures and other typical characteristics of the region. The crest Chasseral provides participants with a sublime panorama of the South with breathtaking views of the plateau lakes of Biel, Murten and Neuchâtel and the Alps. To the North you will see the windmills of Mont-Soleil, the Vosges and the Jura.
This race attracts elite runners as well as local walkers. All are welcome!
Race website http://www.collontrek.com
One of the most unusual trail races anywhere, Collon Trek begins in Italy, in the hamlet of Bionaz in the Valpelline region, climbs a high pass, traverses a glacier, and finishes in Switzerland. The race reaches its high point of 3,080 meters when crossing over into Switzerland’s Eringer valley, at Col Collon. Runners use microspikes and other forms of traction, to assist during the glacier section. The run finishes in the village of Arolla, on the Haute Route between Chamonix, France and Zermatt, Switzerland. Collon Trek celebrates the shared culture of these two valleys. The race takes place every other year, with 2014 being an off year.
Race website http://grimpette.cavetroz.ch
A classic Valais trail race, the Grimpette, or “little climb,” is part of the Valais Cup series. It begins in the ancient valley town of Riddes, passes through town, then climbs steeply past vineyards and the cobblestone roads of the village of Iserable, and finishes with a steep uphill push past a series of farms, to end in a pasture high above the Rhône valley. Be sure not to miss the lunch at the village soccer field, followed by the complimentary tram ride back to the valley. Run the Alps Blog Post: Grimpette des Bedjuis: Not the UTMB.
Race website http://www.jungfrau-marathon.ch/en/
Part road race, part gravel road, part trail, this is one of the most famous marathons in the world. It’s hard to write about it, without pouring on the superlatives! Beginning with a flat 10 km in the sports-oriented Swiss city of Interlaken, the route passes through towns and villages, as it climbs steadily to Lauterbrunnen at the 20 km mark. With its steep cliffs and dramatic waterfalls, Lauterbrunnen is one of the most-photographed spots in all of Switzerland… save, perhaps, the Eiger, where the race finishes. Once through a lap in Lauterbrunnen, the course suddently climbs a steep 450 meters to the alp village of Wengen, leaves town and narrows to a gravel road. At this point, runners have dramatic views of the Jungfrau and Monch peaks, and, around the corner near the finish, the Eiger’s famed North Wall. The Jungfrau Marathon is an uphill battle, with over 1,800 meters of climbing. In addition to being one of the most famous, it’s also quite popular, with over 4,000 runners participating. Entries are limited, and often fill up not long after they start to be accepted, on February 14, 2013.
Race website http://www.traildm.ch/
Not far from the French border, the Dents du Midi range tower over the mountain villages of Troistorrents, Val D’Illiez, and Champéry. For years, the circumnavigation of this range in a day, was a test piece for the Swiss military. After an absence of many years, the race was restarted in 2011. Entirely on paths, this is very much an alpine race, with remote sections on the far side of the range. Starting and finishing in the beautiful village of Champéry, the course passes by several huts, climbers over two above-treeline cols, and runs through the tiny, picturesque hamlet of Mex. Be ready for three stiff climbs, for a total elevation gain of over 4,700 meters!
Starting and finishing in the tiny hamlet of Vernamiège, now part of a combination of villages known as Mont-Noble, this course starts relatively flat, climbs steeply, then coasts back to the start. It is one of the smaller events in the Valais Cup series.
Race website http://www.steinerberg.com/Wildspitzlauf/home.htm
The Wildspitlauf starts it in the village of Steinerberg, near the middle of Switzerland and not too far from Zurich. One of the longest-running trail races in Switzerland, it has been an annual event for more than three decades. About half paved road and half trails, the route climbs up from the village, alternating forest with pastures, and finishes at the grassy summit of Wildspitz. The day also features a 2 km long kids race, with 350 m of vertical.
Race website http://www.scmoutier.ch/marathon
2014 is the first year the half marathon distance will be offered. The marathon is a qualifying race for the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Successful completion of the marathon awards the runner with one point. The race is organized by Ski Club Moutier. (Course information will be coming, soon.)
Race website http://www.humanitrail.com
Humanitrail is two trail races, on the same day, with a very worthy premise: 100% of the proceeds benefit disadvantaged children in Nepal. The runs both start and finish in the village of Diablerets, a magnificent range with plenty of open territory that offer far-ranging views of many of the larger ranges of Switzerland, including the Dents du Midi and the Mont Blanc massif. Each course passes through a number of small villages en route, and is well-supported. Humanitrail also includes a 1, 2 or 3 km kid’s fun run, as well. The event is new, having started in 2011, but is gaining in popularity.
Race website http://www.kmdc.ch
Also known as the Chandolin Double KM, this is two races in one. Both start together, near the floor of the deep Val Anniviers. One thousands meters up, in the village of Chandolin, is the finish of the vertical kilometer course. For those who want more, keep going to the top of L’Illhorn, and the spectacular finish of the double kilometer course—exactly 2,000 meters higher than the start. This is a classic Valais-region race, featuring a course that wends its way past farms, villages, and finally mountainous terrain, and finishing with a great party afterwards. Run the Alps Chando Double KM Blog Post
Race website http://www.verticalp.ch/
Verticalp wastes no time getting down to business, climbing 930 meters in just over 3 km. From there, the course passes through high pastures. A kid’s run covers about a third of the course, to the first aid station. The race is organized by the nearly 90-year-old Ski Club Grand St. Bernard-Reppaz.
Race website http://www.napf-marathon.ch
The Napf Marathon and half marathon takes place in the pre-alp Emmental region of green, rolling hills. It runs over a combination of road, easier village paths, and more challenging mountain trails. The course features views of the Jura mountain range, and the Bernese alps in the distance.
Race website http://www.teamlatrace.ch/km/
The “Vertical Kilometer” race has been growing in popularity in recent years. A sanctioned trail race that’s part of the International Skyrunning Federation’s series, the “VK.” as it’s sometimes known, is measure by its vertical distance rather than the length of the course. These runs are short, and very steep– and nowhere is that more true than at Fully, Switzerland, where the course reaches grades of up to 60%. Fully is internationally-known as the fastest such course in the world, and racers come from many countries each year to test their steep-trail running mettle. Last year, all 800 spaces sold out in six hours! The Fully VK course passes through vineyards, then gets down to business, climbing directly up an old funicular route. Someday soon, someone in the world is likely to break 30 minutes in the VK– and when it happens, it’s quite possible it’ll be at Fully. Interested in trying a VK? Fully is a great place to do it! Run the Alps Fully Vertical KM blog post.
Race website http://www.transviamala.ch/de/
This beautiful run starts in Thusis, and finishes in the village of Donat, and runs through the wild Mala gorge in the scenic canton of Graubunden, not too far from the noted town of Davos. For several years in a row now, the Trans Viamala has won the title, “Most Beautiful Trail Race in Switzerland,” in an online poll on a Swiss trail running web site. There is the option of a shorter walk, and a 4.4 km junior course for kids.
Race website http://laderupe.ch/
The last race of the Valais Cup series, La Derupe takes place not far from the route of Sierre-Zinal, but at lower elevation due to its late date. This short, steep race starts in the Rhône valley village of Chalais, and switchbacks up through forests, to the mountain town of Vecorin. Entry includes a ride back to the valley on the local telepherique.
Race website http://www.neujahrsmarathon.ch/en/
This race is held on New Years Eve in the city of Zurich. The race starts in the Unterrohr Sports Center. Each lap brings runners back through the sports hall. The course is comprised of 90% natural surface and 10% asphalt. The loop course follows the bank of the Limmat River.