Only a few trail races make every Swiss trail runner’s “Must Do” list, but Matterhorn Ultraks is always one of them. This well-organized race incorporates some of the best trail running terrain to be found anywhere in the country – and it all takes place practically at the foot of the Matterhorn. Ultraks is part of the International Skyrunning Series of races, so the event always includes some of the best mountain runners from dozens of countries. We’re very excited to team with Doug Mayer from Run the Alps to offer this unique Zermatt Matterhorn guided trail running adventure.
We’ll start the week by spending 2 days in the hot springs resort of Leukerbad, where we’ll take in some quiet alpine trails, and have fun with the Gemmi challenge to the top of the famed, serpentine mountain pass. After Leukerbad, we’ll head across the Rhône valley to beautiful Zermatt, arguably the most famous mountain town in the world. We’ll run sections of the upcoming Ultraks Skyrunning trail race and other great routes, and enjoy all that Zermatt has to offer. Zermatt is surrounded by a stunning collection of 4,000 meter peaks, with a network of trails leading up into high meadows, through quiet hanging valleys, and through some of the most iconic and powerful mountain scenery imaginable.
Our typical day starts with a continental buffet breakfast at our inn – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice – which gives us the energy needed for a full day of trail running. Soon we’ll be out on the trail, perhaps 6 miles for those who want a more casual day, or an all-day outing of 12 miles for the more ambitious runners. Each morning, we’ll bring out a variety of trail snacks for you to choose from, and many of our runs will include stops at mountain huts or alp farms where we can tank up with a hot soup or fruit torte.
Most of our days will be leisurely, with plenty of stops to take in the view, visit at local huts, and take photos. We should finish each day with plenty of time to wash up and relax. You will have your own bedroom every night. In the evening we’ll enjoy dinner together at our hotel or another local restaurant. These are multi-course feasts, often featuring local Swiss specialties, and will definitely be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious. We will leave one dinner in Zermatt free, where you will have a chance to explore on your own.
Leukerbad – Arrive in Switzerland and transfer by train bus to our meeting point in Leukerbad, a quiet alpine village and hot springs resort at the base of the daunting Gemmi pass.
We’ll meet and talk about the trip to come, then settle in with a nice welcome dinner.
Leukerbad – Today’s our chance to settle in and explore the Leukerbad region. We’ll run a gentle route through the upper Dala valley to the Buljes Restaurant for lunch, then return on the loop trail. Options exist for a harder run with descent by cable car.
For centuries, travelers have been coming to this mountain town to recuperate in the natural hot springs, and we’ll join in the tradition. Relaxing in the warm pools with mountains all around is a great way to recuperate after a challenging run.
Zermatt – We have a unique run or hike: the improbable Gemmipass Run, from Leukerbad up a serpentine trail to the famed Gemmi pass, with a village-sponsored prize, too! Or, ride the tram and take part in a higher-elevation run to a Swiss hut. Afterwards, we’ll head across the Rhône valley and take the famous cog railway to Zermatt, at end of a long valley and at the base of the Matterhorn, where we check into our beautiful and friendly 4-star hotel.
Zermatt – Following portions of the Ultraks route through fields and forest, we have a range of choices up to the wide ridge of Gornergrat, past marmots and small glacial lakes, to what has to be one of the finest viewpoints in Europe.
The jumbled mass of the Gorner glacier stretches out before us, and behind that, Dom, Monte Rosa, the Breithorn, and the Matterhorn form a spectacular backdrop.
Zermatt – Today we might make the strenuous climb up to the Hornli hut (a sort of Matterhorn base camp) to enjoy fabulous, close-up views of the Matterhorn and and a sweeping look back at the valley below.
Descend on a charming alpine trail below the north face of the Matterhorn, perhaps stopping at the rustic alpine restaurant at Zmutt on the way down to Zermatt. You’ll be on your own for dinner in town tonight.
Zermatt – Day 6 is race day, and we have a limited number of guaranteed spaces if you want to join one of the Matterhorn Ultraks trail races, or you can take the day off to relax, watch the race, or take a separate run around the valley.
The trail up into the quiet Trift valley is a great way to escape the crowds. We might run up to the Hohbalmen ridge, with fabulous 360 degree views, and watch as the leaders of the Ultraks race come running by. Return to the village for one last celebratory dinner.
depart – There’s time to sneak in a final morning run, or enjoy a coffee and pastry in town, before hopping on the train to either Geneva or Zurich.
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