Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon: the King’s Way through the Mountains

The Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon runs from St. Niklaus through the deepest valley in Switzerland up to the Riffelberg at Gornergrat. This is one of the most demanding Marathon courses in Europe. And for those who do not find the 42 kilometres and over 1,800 metres of altitude enough of a challenge, there is always the Gornergrat Zermatt Ultra Marathon. 


The Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon is quite simply the Alpine running challenge. 42 kilometres and a bit more than 1,800 metres of altitude to overcome. The start in St. Niklaus is already the first power boost: Around 1,600 runners are at the start with spectators to fire them up and other spectators, who are "along for the ride." Because now they are setting off through the deepest valley in Switzerland – left and right, the highest mountains in Switzerland tower overhead. Those “along for the ride” are in the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn, which is the train with waving spectators travelling next to the racers all the way to Zermatt.

Finish Line at Gornergrat

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.

Continue Ever Higher

What the Iron Man is to Hawaii, the Ultra Marathon race to the top of Gornergrat is to Zermatt. The course is the same from St. Niklaus via Zermatt and up to Riffelberg. But then it continues for another 3.4 kilometres with an additional tough 514 m of altitude to overcome. Something for the really tough ones! And there are at least 800 people, who accept this challenge. Every single one of them deserves a huge applause when they reach the finish line at 3,089 m on Gornergrat.

Marathon

  • The Marathon always takes place on the first Saturday in July
  • Registration begins in the middle of August; field limited to 800 runners
  • Start in St. Niklaus, at 1,116 m
  • Passage through Zermatt at 1,620 m
  • Finish line: Riffelberg, at 2,585 m
  • Altitude difference: 1,469 m
  • Distance: 42,195 m

Ultra Marathon

  • Registration begins in the middle of August; field limited to 800 runners
  • Start in St. Niklaus, at 1,116 m
  • Passage through Zermatt at 1,620 m
  • Finish line: Gornergrat, at 3,089 m
  • Altitude difference: 1,973 m
  • Distance: 45,600 m

Marathon Relay (Marathon Staffel)

  • Registration begins in the middle of August; field limited to 200 relay teams with 2 in each
  • The Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon website offers a Partner Search Platform
  • Start in St. Niklaus, at 1,116 m
  • 1st runner 608 m altitude difference, 2nd runner (from Zermatt): 1,336 m altitude difference
  • Finish line: Riffelberg, at 2,585 m

Half Marathon

  • Registration begins in the middle of August; field limited to to 800 runners
  • Start in Zermatt, at 1,616 m
  • Finish line: Riffelberg, at 2,585 m
  • Altitude difference: 1,336 m
  • Distance: 21,100 m

Train Tickets

  • Reduced-price day passes (train travel) for accompanying persons and spectators available from the train stations of the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn between Visp and Zermatt, SBB in Brig and Visp, as well as the Grächen Post Office

Attractions for Spectators: the "Travelling Bleachers"

  • A Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn train composition leaves at the same time as the runners
  • Reservations for the "Travelling Bleachers" are required: info@zermattmarathon.ch or by phone at +41 (0)27 946 00 33
  • Limited number of seats
  • The train travels parallel to the race from St. Niklaus to Zermatt
  • Attractive possibility to watch and photograph the runners

Tips for Spectators

  • The start in St. Niklaus is an impressive experience
  • Attractive spectator locations: Start in St. Niklaus, Zermatt village, changing runners in the Marathon Relay at the Zermatt train station, Sunnegga, Riffelalp, Riffelberg with finish line, Gornergrat with Ultra Marathon finish line
  • Travelling by train (travelling bleachers), see below
  • Entertainment programme on Friday and Saturday evening in the tent on the Bahnhofplatz Zermatt
  • Clothing and shoes: good shoes, raingear, warm clothing
  • Camera, perhaps binoculars or telescope

Supporting Programme, Awards Ceremony

  • Friday, 11 am, Pasta Party with musical entertainment in the festival tent on the Bahnhofplatz
  • Friday, 6 pm, introduction of the top runners
  • Friday, 7:30 pm, Monster concert with Guggen Music
  • Saturday, 2 pm until after 3:30 pm, awards ceremony at Riffelberg, various categories
  • Saturday after 3 pm, festival tent Bahnhofplatz: After Pasta Party in the festival tent on the Bahnhofplatz
  • Saturday, 6 pm, in the festival tent on the Bahnhofplatz: Jodler Mass celebration
  • Saturday, 7:45 pm: Ultra Marathon awards ceremony, festival tent on the Bahnhofplatz
  • Saturday, 8:15 pm: concert in the festival tent on the Bahnhofplatz

Helpers Welcome

  • Attractive place to help out: in the deepest valley in Switzerland or on the mountain
  • Helper T-Shirt, lunch packets or food ticket,
  • Free use of the trains on the day of the Marathon
  • Helper dinner in fall in one of the valley towns: St. Niklaus, Herbriggen, Randa, Täsch or Zermatt

  

Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon

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