Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Swiss Alpine Marathon

The Swiss Alpine Marathon at Davos has been a classic running event since 1986. The main distances are 78K and 42K, framed by other competitions with shorter routes, a separate team event and walks.

Davos is a famous center for skiing. It might be pretty when covered with deep snow but in summer it is just an ugly town surrounded by steep hills which are artificially designed for winter sports. There is no obvious reason why Davos has the same price level as London City. It is comprehensible that the town has to set up big events to draw visitors in summer.

However, once you leave the town and enter the neighboured valleys you easily recognise that Engadin is one of the most beautiful areas of the Alps: steep georges, green alps, rocky tops.

The marathon is a perfectly organised event with every comfort you can think of. The photo shows the start of the 78K race at 8am in Davos. The strong little lady wearing the green shirt and black shorts is Lizzy Hawker from England. She not only won the race 37 minutes ahead of the second lady, Lizzy smashed the course record by 15 minutes and finished after 6:30:12 with just 4 men ahead of her .

It was my first visit to an ultra distance race. This special species of runner seems to suffer from distinctive self-confidence what is not always likeable. But seeing them approaching the finish line one is tempted to try the long distance oneself.

The start of the 42K race takes place in the beautiful village of Bergün (1365m) at 11.30 am. The 78K runners have already covered around 35K when they reach Bergün and from here on the routes of both races are mostly the same.

The next section is a long and arduous ascent to Kesch Hut at 2638m.

High at Kesch Hut it is foggy, wet and very cold.
I am happy about the immediate steep descent of 300m...

... into a lonely valley called Val Funtauna.

Then it is another steep ascent to ...

Scaletta pass at 2606m ...

... and steeply down again to the alm Dürrboden at 2007m.

Finally a very long valley back to Davos.

It seems I have lost some weight en route.

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