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Eiger Trail: Fortune Favors the Bold

Becki Penrose
Guided by Becki Penrose
After a week of running, bonding, and storm dodging, race day dawned with perfectly clear skies and hot weather for the races at Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB.®

We enjoyed a beautiful start to the week with sunshine, blue skies, and a stunning balcony run to the historic Obersteinberg mountain hotel for soup and cake before descending to the stunning valley below the Schmadribach waterfall and the head of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Some ran and some rode the tram up to Gimmelwald for a well deserved local beer (Swartz Mönch) before the final tram ascent back up to Mürren. 


Following a lively amphitheater show of thunder and lightning through the night with more storms forecast throughout the next day, the team enjoyed a tactical day of storm dodging. First we descended part of the Inferno Half Marathon route to Lauterbrunnen. After that, we took a train around to Burglauenen in the Grindelwald valley to check out the first ascent of the Eiger 35km route before running the gently rising valley trail to Grindelwald and our first sight of the preparations for the weekend’s upcoming race. We felt satisfied and smug as we arrived at our hotel just as a huge storm broke overhead, the street turning to a river in a matter of minutes.


Our third day began with heavy legs and  heavy rain. We remained optimistic and took the bus up to Grosse Scheidegg. We ran above the worst of the clouds and onto atmospheric, damp and breezy trails with tantalizing glimpses of the majestic cliffs of the Wetterhorn, Eiger, and Grindelwald’s stunning twin glaciers suspended in the clouds across the valley. We ran to First along a section of the Eiger 51km race route to tackle the exhilarating cliff walk before continuing to Bachsee lake. As we descended the dreamy singletrack towards Bort and on down to Grindelwald, the clouds continued to open up before us.


Day 4 finally heralded the return of blue skies and sunshine as we rode the cog train up to Alpiglen, meeting our photographer for the day, Kim, on route for a morning of stunning running and amazing photos along the classic Eiger Trail. We started to feel the buzz of race day approaching as we ran past race tape markings and signs before descending by the Romantikweg to collect our bibs, prepare race kit, eat, and rest.


Race day dawned with perfectly clear skies and fine weather, but a little challenging due to the intense and increasing heat of the day. Guests ran in various distances from the E17 along with Kilian Jornet, to E35, and E51 putting in great performances both in the races and in their enthusiastic support of one another. One by one they arrived back to Grindelwald to run down the steep finish ramp and towards the sound of our cheers and the Run the Alps cow bell.


Highlight on the trail

Day 1: Making friends with cows who enjoyed licking the salty sweat from our hands.

Race Day: Cheering each other out on the trails and waiting expectantly on the finish line with cameras, cow bells, and hugs ready to welcome our weary but satisfied competitors.


Funniest moment

A cheeky and persistent Alpine chough tried to help Kathryn finish off her huge slab of tasty apple cake at Kleine Scheidegg.


Unexpected memorable moment

On day three, we set out into what seemed like horrendous weather and were rewarded with atmospheric views- fortune favors the bold! We also encountered a fun section of trail covered with Alpine salamanders that were enjoying the cool, damp ground, and forcing us into a crazy dance to avoid stepping on them. We named it the “Salamander Slalom.”


Low point

We were tense when the race tracker lost sight of two of our runners for quite some time between the Faulhorn, the high point of the E51 race, and its final aid station. Did something happen to them? Have they succumbed to the heat? Finally they appeared again on the live-feed and we breathed a sigh of relief. Teams hustled to cheer them up the final ascent into the town center and to the finish line to welcome them home.


Favorite overnight stop

We appreciated the warm welcome, attention to detail, friendly atmosphere, beautiful rooms, and amazing food – as always – at Hotel Gletschergarten, Grindelwald. Thanks Gaby and Geri!

Join the Eiger Trail guided tour next time. All the details are here.

Having a great time rain and shine. (Photo: Becki Penrose)

Riding the cogwheel train up to Alpiglen to begin our easy run before race day. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Train station at Alpiglen. (Photo: Kim Strom)

A little uphill to warm up the legs. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Finding the course markers ahead of the next day’s races. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Perfect singletrack. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Don’t forget the fun downhill along the glacial moraine. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Underneath the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Wildflowers and high peaks near Kleine Scheidegg. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Smooth running. (Photo: Kim Strom)

An Alpine chough with a sweet tooth. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Running back down toward Grindelwald along the Eiger North face. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Coming through the finish line at the Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB®. (Photo: Becki Penrose)