Guides

Our Run the Alps team has dozens of years of experience, trail running throughout Switzerland, France, and Italy. Take a moment to meet them!

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.

Guiding since1987

Alister Bignell

Senior Guide

HometownChamonix, France

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.

Guiding since2008

Becki Penrose

Guide

HometownLeeds, England

A bit about me

I was born and bred in Yorkshire, Northern England but am rarely there nowadays, as I travel regularly between the Peak District, Northern Wales, the Lake District and the Alps. I love running on the trails and in the mountains. The appeal for me is the ability to journey through stunning landscapes, keeping it light and simple. I really enjoy the buzz of races and have completed a few ultras, both in the UK and the Alps, but am equally happy with a good long day – or few days -out, running through the hills with good companions, both human and canine!

My other life

I am a freelance Outdoor Instructor year round, working both in the UK and the Alps. This has been my career for a number of years now, and I have been very lucky. My career has enabled me to explore some beautiful places, both wild and urban, in the UK and further afield. And, I’ve been able to do it with a wide range of interesting and inspiring people.

I’ve loved leading expeditions to Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Morocco and China. But, coming to the Alps always feels like returning home!

In my free time

I am passionate about trekking and trail running, but I also love to spend my leisure time negotiating some of the white water rivers of the UK and Europe in my kayak and open canoe, as well as chasing the snow on skis. I have spent the past few years moving around so much that I am more often found in my camper van than back home. Living outdoors is fantastic, but next year is definitely going to see an upgrade to a van with a heater for those colder months!

Fun Fact

A few years ago I somehow found myself with quite a menagerie, including five dogs, a collection of ferrets, two horses, tropical fish, a Harris hawk and a Peregrine, or Gyr, falcon. Life is much simpler now, although I do need a new canine friend in my life….

Favorite Alp trail run

It’s so difficult to choose, but it is hard to beat the experience of running the last section of the UTMB and CCC race route. Arriving at the top of the long climb from the Col de Montets, you come round a bend to be almost stopped dead in your tracks by the truly awesome view across to the Mont Blanc massif. I absolutely love blasting down the final descent from La Flégère as well – if my leg muscles allow it, that is!

Guiding since2011

Bruno Yates

Senior 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 four years of my life – and many years to come, as we’ve recently married.

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.

Guiding since2005

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!

Guiding since2005

Emily Geldard

Senior Guide

HometownServoz, 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 the Chamonix valley, where I eventually moved in 2007. I gained my International Mountain Leader qualification shortly thereafter.

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 Montreux, Switzerland, 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.

Guiding since2004

Giles Ruck

Guide

HometownEdinburgh, Scotland

A bit about me

I came to trail and mountain running from mountaineering, as a way to travel through beautiful landscapes but without freezing my hands all the time! I’ve been lucky enough to trek, climb high and lead trips in the Himalaya and in South America, as well as in the Alps and at home in bonnie Scotland.

My other life

I lead a foundation in Scotland which is focused on fueling community growth, by working alongside and funding non-profits and the endeavors of local people. Highlights for me are when communities take on ownership and the growth of their own assets – village halls, hydropower facilities, the land under their homes, and even their own ski mountain!

In my free time

I keep up my mountaineering, fueled usually by coffee, flapjacks, friends and the views! My personal mountain goals include climbing the Alpine 4000ers, especially when I can travel on skis, with stopovers in cozy Alpine refuges and villages.

Fun Fact

During the annual West Highland Way race in Scotland (a 95-miler), one of my earlier longish ultras in which I achieved a sub-24 hour time, I managed to add at least three hours by stopping to eat – first at a fish & chips shop, baked potatoes at the ski-hill café, and finally toasted paninis and coffee with ‘just’ a half-marathon to go. My support crew soon realized I was a lost cause, with energy gels and cajoling of no use, and decided it was easier to join me. The race medic was a little surprised when my final weigh-in showed an extra few pounds!

Favorite Alp trail run

My favorite trail run starts on the trail system in le Buet, on the French-Swiss border not far from Chamonix. The run through the Vallon de Berard and on up to Mont Buet is fabulous. From the hot pine smells low down, past glacial pools, coffee at the refuge and on up to the desert-like landscape around 3,000 meters – complete with views of Mont Blanc and its satellite peaks – gives a day out for all the senses. It links really well to other trails for a point-to-point, from Servoz, or Chamonix, with the advantage of a valley train to get you back to your start.

Guiding sinceOutward bound leader since 1990, guiding treks and expeditions since 2012.

Grant Fulton

Guide

HometownMontroc, France

A bit about me

When I moved to Chamonix in 2013, I was trail running to improve my fitness for climbing. Pretty soon, it grew into an obsession all of its own. I was hooked on the feeling of moving fast through the mountains without a heavy pack. Trail running is now a full time addiction; I race as much as possible and use my running to explore new places. Highlights include a one-day ascent of Mont Blanc and exploring new trails in Peru and Bolivia. I also like to squeeze in a couple of fell races each year on my trips back to the UK. The mud and the rain makes me really appreciate the sunshine when I get back to Chamonix!

My other life

I studied for a Masters degree in sustainable development. I tried “real life” for a short time, and discovered that it wasn’t really for me. Since then, my partner, our cat and I have been living in the Chamonix valley – and enjoying playing in the mountains as much as possible!

In my free time

In my free time, I’m out in the mountains, running and mountaineering in the summer, and ski mountaineering in the winter. When I’m inside, I love to spend my time cooking, baking sourdough bread and drinking vast amounts of coffee.

Fun Fact

I took a ski holiday to Bolivia. During that trip, we skied the highest peak, Nevado Sajama (6542m). It’s a massive volcano right in the middle of the desert. It’s beautiful, but I don’t think I’ll ever get all the sand out of my ski boots! We also skied Huayna Potosi (6080m), where you could ski with views over the Amazon basin!

Favorite Alp trail run

The Aiguillette des Posettes, which is right behind my house. I’ve been up there dozens of times, but it never gets boring. I like to run the trail from the Le Tour ski area parking lot. The trail winds up through a beautiful forest. When you get above treeline, you’re in a great spot to graze on a few wild berries and spot some marmots. Once at the summit, you can really see everything in the Chamonix Valley: Mont Blanc, the Aiguille Verte, and right into the Argentière basin. Behind you is Mont Buet, and also some great views into Switzerland. The run down is equally spectacular, following an amazing ridge down to the pretty hamlet of Tré-le-Champ.

Guiding since2016

Heather Ohly

Guide

HometownKendal, Cumbria, UK

A bit about me

I live with my husband just outside the Lake District National Park in Northwest England. It’s a great location for mountain running and only an hour’s drive to the Scottish border. To enjoy fell running in the UK you need to embrace rough terrain, steep hills, navigation and wild weather! There are hundreds of local races to choose from, but often I prefer to head out on my own or with a friend in search of quiet places.

My other life

For most of the year, I work as a Research Fellow in Global Nutrition, with a focus on micronutrient deficiencies in low-income countries. I look forward to my work as an International Mountain Leader, which provides completely different challenges and welcome time away from the computer.

In my free time

I love rock climbing. Like running, it’s a great way to travel and meet like-minded people. I have been climbing for 20 years and it gets harder and harder to improve – but I keep trying! I most enjoy traditional climbing on sea cliffs and mountain crags. The UK has some amazing trad climbing – but a bit more sunshine would be good!

Fun Fact

My husband, Shane, organizes some famous mountain races including the Glencoe Skyline, which is part of the Extreme Skyrunning race series, and the Dragon’s Back Race. And no, sorry, I can’t get you a free entry!

Favorite Alp trail run

The Tour du Mont Blanc is such an obvious choice! The first time will always be memorable for me. We ran it over four days, taking all the high alternatives. The last day was long: We ran from Relais d’Arpette to Les Houches. I was feeling very tired at Flégère, but a cold drink and tarte aux pommes perked me up. We reached Brévent to see an amazing sunset, before descending to Les Houches in the dark.

Guiding since2014

Mark Brightwell

Guide

HometownUndecided. I grew up around suburban and rural Hampshire, but these days home is wherever I feel good. More often than not, that’s the mountains.

A bit about me

I received a degree in English Literature and joined the Army as an Officer in the UK’s Royal Gurkha Rifles. I served in Afghanistan and Iraq, losing part of a thigh muscle in the latter, thanks to an explosion. This has ever since proved a strong and convenient excuse for not being the fastest runner on the mountain.

When I left the Army, I pursued my interest in the great environmental questions and challenges of our age. I received an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College in London. City life had me running for the hills, though.

I started mountain running in earnest in Nepal in 2015, where I was working in the post-earthquake relief and redevelopment sector. Running became my sanity valve: it was a balm for the soul. A routine of morning runs and some chance encounters culminated in my first multi-day event, The Manaslu Trail Race.

Running in the mountains fills me with excitement and joy; something I feel privileged to experience and to share.

My other life

I don’t think I have a stand-alone “other life.” Everything fits together, one way or another. In addition to being a guide, I’m also employed as photographer, writer, leadership consultant, trekking guide and expedition leader.

I also consult on the development of an alps-based environmental NGO and recently co-founded www.photojourney.co.uk – a business that hosts ethical, exciting, adventurous and life-changing photo journeys in Nepal.

In my free time

My free time is generally spent posturing in trendy cafés, reading weighty tomes, important literary works, and academic writing that I mostly don’t understand. I also love to play the guitar and occasionally break into song (though rarely in trendy cafés).

Fun Fact

I am currently making a film.

Favorite Alp trail run

In 2016, I ran through a beautiful section of Switzerland’s Italian-influenced Ticino region. We ran from the Ticino River to Verzasca River via a 2,000-meter climb over the Passo de Gagnone. We battled hail, wind, cloud, snow and gravity to reach the pass, by which point we were cold, wet, tired and doubting our sanity. Crossing the watershed everything changed. The sun broke through, the wind abated and we made fresh coffee at the Campanna d’Efra. An unprecedented state of flow ensued during the magnificent descent to the Verzasca: a slowly rising euphoria, the like of which I have been searching for ever since!

Guiding since2006

Sam Hill

Guide

HometownVillars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland

A bit about me

Having grown up in the Lake District, in the North West of England, the “fells” are in my blood. From a young age, I have been wandering around in the mountains having adventures, and this seems to have grown into a career!

I have lived and guided all over the world. I moved to Switzerland four years ago, where I have enjoyed mixing my running with my love of mountaineering and climbing. When the snow arrives, strapping on some light skis and Lycra makes sure I keep the legs in shape over the winter. I seem to spend most of my time poring over guide books and map, trying to work out what the next adventure will be!

My other life

I am a full time, freelance International Mountain Leader, although “full time” is a subjective term. I try to work as much as I can in the Alps, but my work often takes me further afield. Leading expeditions to exotic places is a great part of the job. Ultimately, I am a big believer in doing what you love, and I feel incredibly privileged to be in the position to do just that.

In my free time

Most of my time is spent running, climbing, skiing, or working. In the rare moments of down time, I love to cook. I can spend hours in the kitchen – it’s one of my happy places. I also love music, and have played guitar since I was a kid. I’m not quite as good as the 18-year-old rock god I once thought I was, but playing guitar still brings me a lot of joy.

Fun Fact

I am not much of a TV fan, but the one program I can’t get enough of is Master Chef. I’m not sure why, as I’m vegan and can’t eat 90% of the things they make!

Favorite Alp trail run

The Pigne de la Lé in Switzerland above the Cabane Moiry. You get to run across some great mountain terrain, crossing glaciers and scrambling up alpine ridges to a lovely summit. It has everything I want from a mountain run. Plus, the Cabane Moiry has to be one of the nicest places in the Alps to stop and enjoy a post-summit beer.

Guiding since2014

Simon Conroy

Senior 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.

Guiding since1992

Victoria Chelton

Guide

HometownChamonix, France

A bit about me

I have been working in the mountains, sharing my skills with others for over 20 years.

Guiding has always been my primary profession. For the first 14 years, I spent my winters in Scotland and summers in North Wales or the UK’s Lake District. Over the years, I’ve worked in the outdoors with children, students, and the British military, and have guided and instructed privately. I’ve also been a trainer and examiner for the UK’s Mountain Qualification program.

I moved to Chamonix in 2007.  Since then, I’ve worked as an International Mountain Leader, guiding running, trekking and snowshoeing trips.

My other life

I am a mother to a young boy, Max. I am his life facilitator, and he’s my life buddy. I also work as a safety advisor for a large outdoor education provider called PGL. I assess their staff on ropes-oriented activities at centers throughout the UK and France.

In my free time

I spend my summers running, climbing or mountaineering. Winters are spent running, ski mountaineering, or nordic skiing. I practice yoga year-round. If I’m I’m not doing one of the above, chances are good that I’m busy being a mom, or sharing wonderful adventures with people in the mountains.

Fun Fact

I starred in a mountaineering DVD, Alpine Essentials, from the British Mountaineering Council.

Favorite Alp trail run

My trail running started in 2009. I love Italy, so my favorite trail run in the Alps  is in Italy’s Monte Rosa region. It starts in the Gressoney valley at Stafal, and runs to Alagna via the Valle d’Otro, returning to Stafal via the Vallone delle pisse. It’s quiet, wild, and steeped in history. There’s also amazing coffee stops along the way!

Guiding since1993

Run the Alps Switzerland: 30 Must Do Trail Runs