Once again, Davos, Switzerland is the focal point of the mountain running the weekend of July 24th & 25th. The international Swissalpine Davos will be held for the 36th time and Katie Schide will be one of the very few Americans at the event. With up to 2700 runners, the race has become an increasingly popular off-road running event, and one of the biggest in Switzerland.
A record participation of athletes is not expected this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, runners are eager to compete and well over 2000 registrations have been received so far. By race day between 2500 and 2700 participants from over 40 countries are expected in Davos.
There are some well-known elite runners in the starting field, including Stephan Wenk (SUI) and Germain Grangier (FRA) in the men’s race. Ida Nilsson (SWE) and Katie Schide (USA) are among the favorites for women on the marathon route. An On Running sponsored athlete, Katie is originally from Maine, but currently lives in Switzerland where she combines training in the alps with working on a PhD in geology.
[PRO TIP: To see some of her top trail race results, check out Katie Schide’s Ultrasignup page.]
The Swissalpine Davos is set in a picturesque mountain landscape and offers a diverse set challenges for participants. Elite mountain runners will race through the same valleys and over high elevation passes as athletes for whom running is simply means challenge and enjoyment.
For the second time, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event will take place under special conditions with participants adhering to one of the three important health and safety rules. They must either be vaccinated, tested, or recovered and have an appropriate certificate.
There are four race competitions on the Swissalpine Davos program; the K68 (42 miles), K43 (26 miles), K23 (14 miles) and K10 (6 miles).
On Saturday, July 24th, runners will face the toughest test, the K68 (42 miles) with 8500 feet of vertical. The shorter K23 (14 miles) with 2000 feet of vertical starts on the same day. This mountain run from Klosters along the trails of the former Walsers over the Wolfgang Pass to Davos, developed from an insiders tip event to a hit. The organizers expect the highest number of registrations for the K23, with around 800 to 1000 ruuners. The K23 has shot up steeply in recent years in the popularity due to being a tough but approachable mountain running event.
On Sunday, July 25th, the K43 – 26 miles with 4500 feet of vertical – kicks off with a classic marathon distance. Later that day the K10 (6 miles) with 530 feet of vertical will be held in Davos. The mountain marathon K43, on which over 4500 feet of elevation gain is overcome, is also popular. It starts in Davos, then it goes through the side valleys Dischma and Sertig, over the Scaletta and Sertig passes and then back to Davos. With its 6 miles, the K10 invites you to take a leisurely run or sprint. On the route to Clavadel and back to the Davos sports stadium, a comparatively small difference in altitude of around 530 feet of vertical is overcome.
Mountain runs have their own special considerations. Above all, large temperature fluctuations can be a challenge. Athletes have to be able to run in the heat and withstand low temperatures and possible freak weather at higher elevations. Welcome to the mountains of Switzerland!
[PRO TIP: Are you planning to run in the mountains during the winter months? Check our article on Winter Mountain Adventures: What To Know Before You Run In The Snow.]