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Switzerland, Zermatt: A Runner’s Paradise

Switzerland, Zermatt: A Runner’s Paradise

For runners, marathon lovers, or adrenaline junkies, Switzerland, Zermatt is the place to be at. It boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and is famed as a mountaineering and ski resort of the Swiss Alps. Think the Matterhorn.

When you arrive at the village of Zermatt, you will notice that it is car-free and almost all vehicles are battery driven. Most people walk, cycle or take those tiny electric shuttles.

So in May 2018, I decided to sign up for the 42km Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon. Call me rash, impulsive, or both.

The Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon starts from St. Niklaus through the deepest valley in Switzerland up to the Riffelberg at Gornergrat. This is definitely one of the most challenging marathons in Europe, let alone Switzerland. About 2,000 people participate in this marathon each year so the atmosphere is really fascinating. For those who want to push themselves further, there is always the Gornergrat Zermatt Ultra Marathon.

Zermatt Marathon Race Pack

I arrived in Zermatt on Friday before the race day, as signing up for the Zermatt Marathon allows you to travel for free for the below routes.

Brig–St.Niklaus–Zermatt (MGBahn), St. Niklaus–Grächen (Postal), Zermatt–Gornergrat (GGB) and ­Zermatt–Sunnegga (Zermatt Mountain Funicular).

Checked into one of the famed apartments in Zermatt, and the view I wake up to each morning is just breathtaking.

View from the apartment

On race day itself, I was at the venue early to prep myself mentally and to scan the surroundings. You could see lots of people decked in bright running gears ready for the marathon. More pictures below.

Pre-race scene

People of all ages taking on the marathon

Did you know that the alphorn was used by mountain dwellers and shepherds to call the cows from the pastures and into the barn at milking time? Today, alphorns are used mostly as musical instruments.

Before flag off

At about the 5km mark

The race was tough. The gradient was getting steeper and steeper each time and my legs were getting wearier by the km. At the halfway mark in the Matterhorn village of Zermatt, you could see lots of spectators, supporters and tourists lined up along the street taking photographs, applauding and cheering you on. Suddenly, you could feel alive once again.

However, at 29km, I felt my legs getting increasingly sore and every few kilometers I was walking, my legs were cramping. End up, I decided to throw in the towel and took the designated truck up to the nearest station. To my surprise, there were more people on the same truck who also had given up. But nonetheless, all had smiles on their face.

Exhausted but delighted to see all the finishers. Spot the Matterhorn behind 🙂

Some facts about the marathon:

  • The Marathon always takes place on the first Saturday in July
  • Start in St. Niklaus, at 1,116 m
  • Passage through Zermatt at 1,620 m
  • Finish line: Riffelberg, at 2,585 m
  • Altitude difference: 1,469 m
  • Distance: 42,195 m

For a feel of the marathon, please click here for official photos of the 2018 Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon.

Till next time,

Vincent



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