Swissalpine Davos Weekend

Serpies after racing at Davos 2004

The venue

Davos is a small town in the Swiss Alps, famous for skiing and its annual economic conference. Each July it is the venue for a weekend of trail running ranging from the prestigious 78km alpine ultramarathon to shorter runs of a marathon, ~30km, half-marathon and ~10km. The full 78km route is circular through breathtaking mountain scenery.

Each year a group of Serpies (around 30-50 in recent years) will sign up for this race to spend a weekend in a beautiful mountain location racing with some of Europe's best mountain runners. Though don't be intimidated; with some hill training any London road runner can be ready for the mountains! Note: it pays to start planning early in the year to guarantee accommodation for this weekend and get training.

The Races

Since 1985 the Swiss Alpine Marathon has taken place annually in Davos. Many races finish at the sports centre in Davos where there is always a party atmosphere and big crowd to cheer you around the track for the last 400m.

The race website has all the profiles and courses, which can vary a little from year to year. The 2015 races are:

K78 (+/-2560m) 76.1km Davos - Filisur - Bergün - Keschhütte - Sertigpass - Sertig Dörfli - Davos. The second half is very tough and is not for the faint hearted.

K42 (+1830m/-1680m) 42.2km Bergün – Keschhütte – Sertigpass – Sertig Dörfli – Davos.

S42 (+/-1450) 42.3km Davos – Dischmatal – Scalettapass – Sertigpass – Sertig Dörfli – Davos. Europe's highest marathon.

K30 (+430m/-940m) 30.1km Davos – Zügenschlucht – Wiesnerviadukt – Filisur. Running across the imposing Zügen Canyon and the famous Wiesen Viaduct.

K21 (+610m/-260m) 21.0km Klosters – Monbiel – Selfranga – Laret – Davos.

K10 (+/-220m) 10.6km Davos – Clavadel – Davos.

There are also two Nordic Walks (the W21 and W10) which are the only races allowing walking poles.

Early, reduced rate, entries are available via the registration site until the end of March.

Accommodation

In previous years many club members have stayed at the homely Hotel Ochsen, which is ideally located next to the train station in Davos. More recently, some have used the Central Swiss Sporthotel which is right next to the stadium, also the Sunstar Park and Grischa - which is the race hotel.

None of the options above are particularly inexpensive so many club members have stayed in the Davos Youth Palace YHA. The cost for a dorm room bed (4 or 6 beds per room with ensuite) comes in at less than £40 per night and they also have a small number of double rooms, however these are substantially more expensive. Both options include half-board which ends up making the trip very cost effective when compaired to staying at a hotel and eating in town. The food on offer at the YHA is surprisingly good and they also serve alcohol from a small bar. Bookings can be made online and via phone; it is worth ringing to check on availability even if there are no bookings available via their website. Remember to book early as accomodation fills up completely two or three months ahead of the race itself.

Booking late and missed out on a space? Put the word out on the Serpies Facebook group and keep your ear to the ground, there may be people who are trying to get rid of beds they can no longer use closer to race day.

Getting there

Flying to Zurich is the best option, most people usually fly out Thursday to Sunday - the races are on the Saturday. If you book early enough, then you can fly cheaply with Easyjet from London Luton or Gatwick. BA and Swiss operate cheap flights from London airports as well, there's plenty of choice to make it into a long weekend if you like.

From Zurich you take the train and change at Landquart. Here you transfer onto the mountain train for the remaining part of your journey, the total journey is two hours and twenty minutes. Those entered in the races K78, K42, S42 and K30 will receive a train ticket in the post which covers the entire journey from the Swiss border to Davos. Those entered for the K21, K10, W21 and W10 can purchase train tickets at CHF30 when registering - which is a good saving on the actual price. The train tickets also cover the regional area for seven days so a day trip to Klosters or Saint Moritz is a good excursion for those staying longer than just the weekend.