Running and trail running in St. MoritzBeing at one with nature
The wide basin of the Upper Engadin Valley is a runner’s paradise. But, increasingly, joggers are leaving the trodden paths – heading for the pastures and the forests, running over hill and dale, eager for rugged terrain. And, all that is required are running shoes with lug soles, an ultra-thin jacket, and a tiny backpack.
Let’s begin with a classic: Jogging around Lake St. Moritz at the crack of dawn is fantastic. The many groomed trails along the valley are just as popular with joggers. While running remains one of the most popular sports, trail running is attracting an increasing following. With good reason: Away from the tarmacked paths, body and nature unite as in virtually no other sport.
Someone well placed to vouch for that is Anne-Marie Flammersfeld. The ultra runner and certified sports scientist, who has made St. Moritz her home, works as a personal coach and speaks to audiences on topics such as motivation, enthusiasm and stretching one's limits. Even though she has run in many a terrain throughout the world, the Engadin is still her favourite spot: «What is uniquely different about this place is reaching the tree line after gaining just a few hundred meters in elevation because you started off down in the valley at 1,800 meters. Up there, you get a phenomenal panoramic vista. If it weren't for the amazing trails, I'd pause and contemplate the view.»
To Anne-Marie, the high altitude of the Engadin is also a challenge: «You need to be aware that, as a runner, you will never reach the performance you achieve at lower altitudes. You can only adjust to the environment to 90%; you will never reach the remaining 10% of your performance potential even after your body has adapted to the elevation – we recommend to allow two to four days for acclimatisation. On the upside, you will benefit from training in the mountain climate, and, what's more, you will be able to cool off your legs in the refreshing waters of a mountain lake.» Besides, trail runners can always resort to being ferried by the Rhaetian Railways and the mountain cableways. Transportation on the mountain cableways is free if you choose the 'mountain railways all-inclusive' package, available for stays of two or more nights at one of the 90+ participating hotels in the Engadin.
Engadin Summer Race
Held every August, the Engadin Summer Race is over 25 km; it starts in Sils and finishes in Samedan, after taking you along six lakes of the Upper Engadin. The run follows mostly gravel roads, and the difference in elevation is a mere 200 metres, making it a flat race in the mountains at more than 1,800 meters above sea level. It is a perfect way to get ready for an autumn marathon; deliberately, its distance has been chosen to be longer than a half marathon. Teams of three can sign up in the category «companies & teams» – triumphing over a sports challenge with team spirit.
Vertical Summer Race
The vertical sibling to the flat 'original summer race' is held one day before the Engadin Summer Race and is all about the steep climb. Starting from St. Moritz Dorf, the race takes you up the downhill run of the World Ski Championships 2017 and finishes at 2,840 meters above sea level after conquering the legendary steep slope at the start of the ski race, virtually a sheer drop going by the name of 'free fall'. The route clocks up a distance of 5.5 kilometres and some 1.000 meters of climb. The vista across the string of lakes in the Engadin Valley will reward the contenders a thousandfold for their efforts.
The Ultraks race series takes trail running to the most beautiful places in the Alps. All three distances, the «Pitschen», the «Media», and the «Grand», run along one of two – or both – loops into the mountain landscape around St. Moritz, starting and ending in Pontresina. The courses are signposted, and difficult sections are secured with ropes; thus, less experienced participants, too, will be able to find a course to suit their skill level. A running commentary on the finishers is provided at the start and finishing line.