In the Matterhorn village of Zermatt, spectators, supporters and amazed tourists from around the world are lined up along the street taking photographs and applauding. The runners race along the Bahnhofstrasse – through civilisation and past watch shops and hotels.
And the steep climb to Sunnegga is soon reached with a view of the Matterhorn at a sunny spot. Here, the natural landscape dominates with its Swiss stone pine and larch wood forests, with mountain lakes and Alpine meadows. The trail goes over hill and dale, along broad paths, narrow hiking trails and through scented meadows of flowers. The view is increasingly impressive – the broad Alpine garland with its numerous four thousand-metre peaks opens up.
The chapel at Riffelberg on Gornergrat, which marks the near end of the classic Marathon course, remains hidden for a long time. Mountain runs are special – the finish line demands the conquering hero in everyone. After someone finally reaches the chapel, there are just a few metres downhill to Riffelberg (2,585 m), where a great sense of triumph accompanied by applause from the spectators awaits everyone at the finish line.
Starting in St. Niklaus, situated in the lowest-lying mountain valley in Switzerland, and ending on Riffelberg by Gornergrat, the highest-altitude finish line in Europe at 2,585 m.a.s.l., the Zermatt Marathon is the supreme alpine racing challenge.
This event will be the most exciting and ambitious marathon competition in Europe. On the first 20 kilometres of the race from St. Niklaus to Zermatt, the course continues through the valley floor, mainly along the left bank of the Vispa River. The half-marathon distance will be reached at the Zermatt Bahnhofstrasse. From there, the course winds along an alpine road up to Sunnegga. The next leg of the race is via Gant, and after a stretch of flat land, competitors will reach Riffelalp at 2,222 m.a.s.l. Here is where the heat is really on! Because over the remaining kilometres an elevation of almost 400 metres has to be overcome before finally reaching the finish at 2,585 m.a.s.l. on Riffelberg by Gornergrat.
While the runners of the Zermatt Marathon pass the chapel on the Riffelberg and have the finish within reach, the runners of the Ultra Zermatt Marathon will still have exactly 3.4 kilometers and 514 high meters to achieve. The view from the Gornergrat at 3’089 meters is unique and will compensate for all the efforts.
St. Niklaus, a legendary provenance of alpinism, can look back on a proud tradition of being the birthplace of outstanding mountaineers. Numerous are the 'four-thousanders' which were first conquered by the native sons of St. Niklaus. It follows that St. Niklaus is the absolutely ideal starting point for a new generation of intrepid spirits on their way to the top - the marathon runners. So, don't miss the starting shot at 08.45 a.m., which is scheduled to go off in co-ordination with the MGB Railway's timetable.
Zermatt, the epitome of alpine resort sophistication with its overwhelming view of the world's most glorious mountain - the Matterhorn. The Bahnhofstrasse in cosmopolitan Zermatt marks the athletes' fleeting and final passage through the realm of civilisation before they once again compete with the forces of nature on their ascent to Sunnegga.
Sunnegga, the long ascent through pine forests and alpine pastures, acknowledges the athletes' spirit with a magnificent panoramic view of the Alps. The next few kilometres over flat terrain offer a welcome breather.
Riffelalp, lying at an altitude of 2,222 metres. One glance at the resplendent Matterhorn fortifies the athletes for the even greater test of strength to come. For the arduous ascent from Riffelalp up to Riffelberg is next - and this last lap scales an elevation of yet another 400 metres.
Riffelberg, 2,585 metres above sea level. The pain subsides. Breathing becomes easier. 29 four-thousand-metre mountains cheer each runner who reaches the finishing line - because everyone who makes it up here by 16.20 pm is a winner.
The race information has been found on the official website of the event or through publicly available sources. Always refer to the official website the latest race information. Please let us know if any data is wrong or missing, by emailing us.