Our Run the Alps team has dozens of years of experience, trail running throughout Switzerland, France, and Italy—from the high peaks of Switzerland’s Berner Oberland and the Valais, through northern Italy, and throughout France’s Haute Savoie and the Mont Blanc massif. Take a moment to meet our crew!

Abby Strauss-Malcolm

Guide, Tour Specialist

HometownPrescott, Arizona

A bit about me

I grew up in Portland, Maine playing in the woods behind my house. As soon as I could, I ran from the cold New England winters and after many a hop, skip, and jump landed in the Southwest. I find it hard to stay in one place for long, due to a love of travel and a constant curiosity about what’s around the bend.

My other life

I guide hiking trips for Run the Alp’s partner organization, Alpinehikers, in both Switzerland and the Southwest.

In my free time

I daydream about my next great adventure, trail run, or life project. They seem to be never ending.

Fun Fact

While leading a wilderness orientation program for Prescott College, I spent three days in a cave with students waiting out a storm of biblical proportion. We’re talking nine inches of rain in three days. Picture dry creek beds turning into roaring rivers ten feet deep. You could hear large boulders moving from the force of the water.

Favorite Alp trail run

Grindelwald to Wengen, via Kleine Scheidegg. This run takes you directly under the Eiger North face. The majority of the first half is through open fields with expansive views. To miss the crowd at Kleine Scheidegg, I stay high and run down on the crest of a moraine wall. The second half of the run brings you through fields and forests as you wind your way down into the quiet town of Wengen.

Alex Langdon

Guide

HometownServoz, France, and Peak District, United Kingdom

A bit about me

Half of the year I live in the beautiful British Peak District and the other half in the French Alps. I am really lucky to have access to an amazing variety of trails for running and hiking.

I do my trail running for fun, and very rarely enter races any more, although I have completed many British long distance events and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc twice. I love to create a journey, running through the mountains with a light rucksack and if I can sneak an easy scramble into the day, even better!

My other life

I freelance for several expedition companies throughout the year. I am fortunate to have been able to work in the mountains and wild places of Nepal, Ecuador, Jordan, Iceland, Greenland, Morocco, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as Britain and the European Alps in both summer and winter.

I am also a qualified, registered Osteopath, but having spent many years running a clinic and treating patients, I now only do this on a very occasional basis.

In my free time

I love to go rock climbing in the sun and mountaineering in any conditions. My husband and I also enjoy spending time renovating our 17th century cottage in the UK, which is handy as it always seems to need something done to it!

Fun Fact

I love making scones!

Favorite Alp trail run

From the top of the Brevent lift in the Chamonix valley, down the GR5 long distance hiking route, across the top of Mount Pormenaz, and finally down to our home in Servoz for tea and scones.

Alister Bignell

Senior Guide

HometownGrindelwald, Switzerland

A bit about me

Being based between central Switzerland and the Chamonix valley, I am fortunate to have some amazing trails on my doorstep. The outdoors and especially the mountains have been a way of life for me for as long as I can remember, starting with a career as an outdoor instructor in the UK and then a permanent move out to the Alps in 2006. An avid racer of both short and long distances on road and trail, I’m as much motivated by the training required as the actual competition. The Alps are replete with a lifetime’s worth of trails and races, which serves as a continuing motivation to explore and push my limits and help others do the same.

My other life

I work as a freelance website editor and designer for non-profit organizations.

In my free time

When time allows I like to go climbing in the summer and winter with friends, exploring new corners of the Alps and trying to improve my languages. The constant through all of this is plenty of fresh coffee and local cake varieties!

Fun Fact

During the final kilometres of the Dents du Midi race in Switzerland, I unwittingly became an impromptu goat herder, as a troupe of about ten goats took a liking to me. As hard as I tried to keep running downhill, the sound of the goats’ little bells continued to chime with my footsteps as I passed other runners and their bemused cries of, “Qu’est-ce qui se passé?” Thankfully, the farmer emerged shortly afterwards and relieved me of my entourage, who seemed prepared to accompany me all the way to the finish in Champery!

Favorite Alp trail run

The trail run up from Servoz to the Alpage at Ayères des Rocs beneath the towering Fiz massif, located in the larger Chamonix valley. It always provides a good workout in a beautiful setting. The first half, up to Lac Vert, involves a sustained grind through quiet, shaded pine cover before giving way to increasingly open views of the Mont Blanc massif. If time allows you can contemplate gathering your reserves and continuing up to the Col d’Anterne or making the boucle, or loop, back to Servoz over the Lac de Pormenaz in the distance.

Bruno Yates

Guide

HometownAnnecy, France

A bit about me

I was blessed to grow up on the island of Jersey where a childhood spent swimming, sea kayaking and running on the coastal paths fostered a lasting love of the outdoors. After five years as an English teacher in Japan and ten years as an outdoor instructor in the UK, I now live on the shores of the beautiful Lake Annecy.

Running has been a constant fascination since my teenage years, at first hooked on the physical challenges of harder and faster, and then the great sense of well-being experienced when everything starts to “flow.” Similarly, I now love trail running for the combination of challenging ascents, the extraordinary mountain environment and the exhilarating descents!

My other life

I still work as a mountaineering instructor in the UK and overseas. I’m an Associate Instructor with The Outward Bound Trust and work for a number of expedition companies, leading groups in the mountains of Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Japan, India, Morocco, Namibia and next year, Kyrgyzstan!

In my free time

Annecy is the ideal place to indulge in my passions for biking, swimming, rock climbing, canoeing and skiing. Fairly new to the area, I’m spending quite a lot of time seeking out the best boulangeries, pâtisseries, crêperies and fromageries!

Fun Fact

A chance encounter on Mont Blanc with a beautiful French girl has shaped the last three years of my life!

Favorite Alp trail run

It might have to be the simplicity of being able to run out the door, skirt the north end of Lake Annecy and run up the steep end of Mont Veyrier, at first through dense woodland and gradually thinning until… wham! Suddenly, you’re hit with a stunning view down the lake from the Col des Sauts. A final push to the summit leads to a spectacular 2-km ridgeline along Mont Baron, then the run finishes with a descent to the historic Col des Contrebandiers.

Claire Prosser

Guide

HometownSheffield, England

A bit about me

I love being outside, being active and eating chocolate! When I was growing up, my family and I spent many a summer holiday orienteering around midge and bog filled forests which I think I must have enjoyed (?!). It was from there where my love of being in the outdoors grew!

My career has been very outdoors oriented – from working at a summer camp in Australia, to taking students on an expedition to Borneo, to leading adults up Kilimanjaro. I really enjoy helping people achieve an ambition and sharing experiences with them.

Outside of work I run a lot and get very restless if I go without it for extended periods! A couple of years ago I was really pleased to complete the Bob Graham Round – a 65 mile (or 72 mile, depending which website you read), 24-hour challenge around the beautiful Lake District.

My other life

I am an outdoor instructor at a secondary school in the UK.  I take students caving, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking…  it’s great!

In my free time

I enjoy running, skiing, walking, surfing, kayaking, climbing, biking, eating, reading, trying to learn foreign languages, chocolate and cake.  I am a member of a local fell running club and regularly take part in fell races in my local national park, the Peak District. I also enjoy races further afield, too.

Fun Fact

I am attempting to learn the guitar– although I’ve not gone beyond three chords so far. I have almost mastered a fairly flat sounding Love Me Do, the Beatles classic!

Favorite Alp trail run

Coming up from La Fouly, Switzerland to cross the Swiss-Italian border at Grand Col Ferret is just amazing. The view down the valley towards the Grandes Jorasses and Dent du Geant is stunning, so dramatic!

Doug Mayer

Founder

HometownRandolph, New Hampshire

A bit about me

I’ve been playing in the mountains since I was a kid, breaking wooden cross-country skis on remote peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountains with my older brothers. The ensuing years have been filled with adventures from the Alps to the Andes. The thought of a warm chocolate croissant can make me run for hours.

My other life

Consulting Producer for Car Talk from NPR, Contributing Editor and Run Amok columnist at Trail Runner Magazine, author, contributor to the trail running web site, irunfar, Run The Alps Founder, Cafe Co-owner.

In my free time

I volunteer on the board of directors of a number of mountain stewardship organizations, for my local mountain rescue group, and am an Ambassador for the American Trail Running Association. I’m addicted to cheese, coffee and chocolate, and have been known to stop dead in my tracks during a trail run, to visit with friendly dogs.

Fun Fact

On a mixed rock and ice climb out in Wyoming one winter years ago, I climbed the wrong Teton. Seriously.

Favorite Alp trail run

From Chamonix village, to the Refuge du plan de l’aiguille.  It’s an hour-and-a-half uphill run from what I think of as the world’s epicenter for trail running, to the best fresh-baked pies in the entire valley. The refuge has a cheerful staff, and there’s the company of Boule, the exuberant hut dog. The views from the refuge are some of the best in the region. After your tart and café au lait, run the dramatic north balcony to Montenvers and the Mer du Glace, or walk a few minutes uphill and ride the Aiguille du Midi tram back to town.

Emily Geldard

Guide

HometownServoz, Chamonix Valley, France

A bit about me

I’m originally from Devon in the Southwest of England, where I made the most of the countryside by running, cycling and horse-riding throughout my childhood. I joined an outdoors club at school and was then fortunate enough to get involved with The Dorset Expeditionary Society, through which I joined trekking and climbing trips around the world, while gaining mountain leading qualifications. One trip led me to Chamonix, where I eventually moved to in 2007. I gained my International Mountain Leader qualification shortly after.

Although I have always run, living in the Alps encouraged me to run longer distances. There are also plenty of trail running events to enter, which I enjoy for the challenge, camaraderie and new trails they take me along.

I am now in Servoz, a 10-minute drive down the valley from Chamonix, where I live with my husband, Jack, and our dog, Betty.

My other life

I’m also an English and Geography teacher at an International school in Geneva, currently teaching students aged 14-18.

In my free time

I spend a lot of time running and walking with our dog, who loves running even more than me (I’m less keen on fetching sticks though!). I practice yoga most days and ski a lot in the winter. I love cooking (well, eating really!), and meeting up with friends to eat and drink together is one of my favorite things.

Fun Fact

I used to do Appalachian clog dancing when I was in my early teens. I would love to actually go to the Appalachian Mountains one day, although perhaps more for running than dancing now!

Favorite Alp trail run

For me this has to be the classic Grand Balcon Sud, linking Flégère to Brévent above Chamonix Valley.  This gently undulating trail has stunning views of the Mount Blanc massif and is a welcome ‘flat’ section for runners on the Chamonix marathon, being the last leg of the race.

Emmie Collinge

Writer

HometownSondrio, Italy

A bit about me

I grew up in Sherwood Forest, UK, but spent most of my time wishing I was somewhere more exciting. I then moved for lengthy stints to Berlin, Swedish Lapland, Belgium, London, and finally Switzerland before signing a four-year contract on an apartment in Valtellina with my partner, Phil Gale. I couldn’t be happier with our new valley, our balconies, and my freelance work as a translator, writer and photographer. And the trails are pretty good.

My other life

In my other life, I’m a translator and writer.

In my free time

A rarity! But when it happens, it’s spent running.

Fun Fact

I’ve been known to still go on about being British orienteering champion in 1999, at age 11.

Favorite Alp trail run

The Splügen Pass on the border of Italy and Switzerland, but anywhere new is always welcomed.

Heddi Nieuwsma

Regional Specialist, Writer and Editor

HometownNeuchâtel, Switzerland

A bit about me

Originally from Minnesota, I moved to French-speaking Switzerland with my family in 2012 after spending over a decade in New England—minus one year living in Japan. An avid runner since my teens, I now enjoy exploring our newly adopted country during long runs and races, when I’m not chasing after my two boys.

My other life

Stay-at-home mom, Swiss food blogger, freelance writer and former US government analyst.

In my free time

Along with traveling and reading, I love learning about traditional Swiss foods and trying to cook them myself at home.

Fun Fact

Whether driving to Duluth, fishing in a small boat in Costa Rica, taking a ferry to Okinawa or even riding a tilting train here in Switzerland, I get motion sickness very easily! (Consider yourself forewarned, if we meet on the SBB tilting train between Bern and Lausanne!)

Favorite Alp trail run

The final half of the Sierre-Zinal course, starting with a funicular ride up to Tignousa and ending in the small Swiss village of Zinal. I’ve also enjoyed running in Saas-Fee during a late-spring snowstorm. Locally, I like an early morning uphill run to Chaumont in the Jura.

Kim Strom

Ambassador

HometownMontespertoli, Italy

A bit about me

I fell in love with the Alps after moving to France in 2009. Growing up near flat Chicago, it took some years to build the strength, confidence, and experience that unlock the freedom and bliss of running in the mountains. Now, there is nothing more natural than to bound down a mountain over rocks and snow through the fog and rain or to enjoy those blue sky days in the wildflowers. I like the challenge of pushing hard on a relentless climb and the reward, not only of a great view, but of each step that carries us higher… and of course finishing the day with a long downhill dance.

My other life

I’m a freelance writer and looking for any excuse to be in the mountains.

In my free time

If I’m not running, then I am skiing, doing yoga, or baking something to share with friends during our next outing.

Fun Fact

I started running in the mountains because I was always excited to see what would be around the next corner or over the next summit. Before that, I was 100% not a runner. Last year, I was one of few women to run the 2016 Skyrunner Extreme Series, not something I ever imagined possible.

Favorite Alp trail run

Whichever one I’m running that day. Trail running has been such an unexpected passion, that every run is my favorite. If I really had to choose, Pointe Percée, in the French Alps, not too very far from Chamonix. Or, something technical that combines running, scrambling, and a rapid descent.

Maartje Bastings

Ambassador

HometownLutry, Switzerland

A bit about me

I am Dutch, and as you might know, half our country lies below sea level. It’s always funny to refer to this fact while climbing mountains! However, while we don’t have mountains, our tradition of biking everywhere—in any condition, at any age—makes for a good start in endurance.

I started running roughly 14 years ago and have gradually increased from 5k, to 10k, to half and then full marathon. Then, on to trails and ultras over the years. I believe patience and consistency is key to longevity and injury prevention.

I moved to Boston in 2012 and my ultra trail running career started to bloom. As a pacer for the Leadville 100, I encountered “real” mountains. I fell in love with ultra running, the trails, and the ultra community.

Continuing my focus on trails and longer distances, I realized my body faired quite well on the endurance side. Distances of 80 km seemed ideal. Eventually, the 100 mile distance called and I tried my hand at two of them, Rocky Raccoon (4th female, in what was also the US trail 100-mile championships) and Leadville 100, where I finished within the 25-hour limit, and received the coveted belt buckle.

In 2017, I moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, and have a daily view of the Alps. I will be joining the Salomon Ultra Running Academy in Annecy and look forward to sharing the joy of trails and mountains with other trail enthusiasts here!

My other life

I am a scientist and run (pun intended!) my own laboratory in biomaterials at the École polytechnic fédérale de Lausanne. We focus on controlling the assembly of molecules into complex 3D architectures by using DNA as a programmable glue. Think of it as a box of LEGOs, or an IKEA package, where all the individual components know exactly how they should come together. No human involvement is necessary, and there are no missing bits and pieces! Pretty cool, huh? My work takes place on a microscopic level, where I strive to create the perfect environments to grow cells for sophisticated diagnostics and therapeutics.

In my free time

I can’t remember the last time I had any free time…!

Fun Fact

I am a professional classical flutist. I studied flute at the Tilburg Conservatory in the Netherlands, while I was doing my Biomed training in Eindhoven.

I am also a big fan of run-commuting. Running twice a day with a backpack full of books is perfect ultra training, and also saves time in a busy life, when you don’t know how to fit your training in.

Favorite Alp trail run

My favorite run in the Alps so far is up to Lac de Tanay, not far from Lake Geneva and the French border, in what is known as the Chablais Alps.

I see the Alps every morning from my bedroom window, and I can tell you, there is no better place on earth to live and run! I look forward to spending more time exploring all the trails in this new playground!

Phil Gale

Writer, Photographer

HometownSondrio, Italy

A bit about me

New to running, writing and photography, my original introduction to the high mountains came with two wheels. With cycling and cycle racing being central to my life for over 20 years, it wasn’t until I stopped racing and became a time-poor, over-travelled and learning-on-the-job freelancer that I discovered running. The progression of my running drew me further into the world of mountain running. Now my free time, freelancing and sanity-finding moments are filled with running shoes, mountains and new trails.

My other life

Aside from running, I also work freelance as a writer, photographer and marketing maestro for a Swiss apparel company.

In my free time

The life of a freelancer means that the line between free-time and work is blurred. My “free time,” such as it is, is spent in the mountains, somehow related to work– or just taking the time to watch the world around me.

Fun Fact

I used to think that the hills in my childhood home of Dorset, England were big–  until I went to the Alps!

Favorite Alp trail run

Monte San Giorgio on the Swiss Italian border holds a place in my heart. A UNESCO conservation area that overlooks the plains of Milan to the south and Lake Lugano to the north, it was my training haunt for a year. Discovering its many hidden trails was incredible. I would give each newly-discovered trail a Dinosaur-themed name, in keeping with the fossils of the Giorgiosauraus found there. This turned out to be a creative way to get further addicted to running in the mountains!

Simon Conroy

Guide

HometownRedruth, Cornwall, UK

A bit about me

I live in the Scottish Highlands and enjoy the peace and tranquility of this environment, but always look forward to my visits to the Alps to get my fix from the tracks and trails. After spending 23 years in HM Royal Marines as a physical training instructor, I now thrive on passing on my experience and stories to those who are willing to listen to me. I love the freedom of the trails in the Alps, and there is nothing better than sharing this with like-minded beings.

My other life

My other life consists of existing as a freelance International Mountain Leader and Ski Instructor, constantly looking for those opportunities that will enhance my life choices, and make me, my wife, and our families and friends happy. I also sit on the Board of Directors for the British Association of International Mountain Leaders, which seems to be an ever-increasing drain on my time, but very rewarding when we see the positives in solution-based ethics.

In my free time

My free time seems to be taken up with traveling from one job to the next, as well as satisfying the demands of my nephew and nieces who seem to think that Uncle Simon and Aunty Jen are the coolest people in the universe. Give them a few more years and they’ll grow up and realize otherwise! I also like drinking nice wines and chilling out to a bit of selected musical genres.

Fun Fact

I have been mistaken on different occasions for a variety of celebrities including Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore (don’t ask).

Favorite Alp trail run

My favorite Alp trail run is the Tour de Argentière near the Grand Muveran in Switzerland. It challenges you in so many ways, as well as exposing you to the fantastic flora and fauna that you can find in this gem of an area.

Troy Haines

Alpinehikers Founder, Guide

HometownPrescott, Arizona

A bit about me

I was first introduced to the Alps while studying in West Berlin in 1989. On a break from my studies, I made the first of many trips to these wonderful mountains. It was love at first sight. Time and again I returned to walk the trails, eventually moving to the Alps myself, living and working in the hotels in Mürren.

I started Alpinehikers in the summer of 1999. I’m an enthusiastic trail runner, and have competed in the Jungfrau Marathon, Zermatt Marathon, the Inferno Half-Marathon, and Sierre-Zinal.

My other life

When not busy organizing tours for Run the Alps’ partner, Alpinehikers, I love being a dad and hanging out with my two young kids, Sidney and Owen, ages 11 and 7.

In my free time

My son likes to say, “Daddy, you have two jobs… writing messages to people and taking care of me!  Free time is mostly about family, but I also love basketball– both playing and watching– and a late-night movie with my wife, Jennifer.  I like to cook, and am currently trying to wean myself off of devices and back to real books.

Fun Fact

Before moving to Switzerland in 1997, I owned a bakery for two years— which helps explain my love of Swiss pastries!

Favorite Alp trail run

Can I pick two?  My first thought is of the run from Riederalp through the ancient Aletsch forest, down to the hanging bridge in front of the Aletsch glacier. It’s a trail run that’s just perfect for feeling like Superman for a brief moment.

But, if I could only run in one place I’d choose the loop around the back of the Lauterbrunnen valley in the Bernese Oberland.  There aren’t many places with that kind of scenery in such a remote setting in the Alps.  Behind the Jungfrau, up above Schmadribach falls, around to Obersteinberg and back down.  If you go in blueberry season, you don’t even need trail snacks along the way…