On Sunday this legendary mountain race took place for the 40th time. Not only has it been going longer than any similar race but for many it's also the most beautiful. Its known as the race of the five 4000'ers because of the stunning views of five four thousand meter peaks, amongst others. Each year one of these five mountains is depicted on the reverse of the medal - it was the Dent Blanche turn this time.
This year over 3500 people signed up to take part as either a 'tourist' or in the 'elite' group of athletes, and the whole event was televised for the first time. The race starts in Sierre (for the 'tourists' that means a 5am departure to the sounds of a jazz band) and climbs on tracks for over 2200m before descending 800m into Zinal - total length 31km's. The 'elite' includes professional athletes from all over the globe; the course record was set by New Zealander Jonathan Wyatt in 2003 with an amazing time of 2hrs 29' 12" (this year - 10 years on - he took just 3mins 32secs longer and came first in the Veterans).
The course statistics
It's a fabulous day for both runners and spectators. We went up to Barneusa - one of several feeding stations along the route - to cheer the runners on. Some sprinted past grabbing for a sponge or cup of water while others stopped to drink, chat and listen to the alp horn.
Plenty of volunteers help out
This year the winner was Marc Lauenstein from Switzerland with a time of 2:32.14. You can see part of the race on www.rts.ch, who televised the whole event for the first time. To find out more about the race you can visit the offical website (www.sierre-zinal.com) where you can also sign up to take part in next year's event.
Zinal is in the beautiful Val d'Anniviers. This valley is lined with 4000m peaks and is legendary for it skiing and summer walking. SkiZinal offers luxurious year round accommodation, including the fully catered Chalet Edelweiss.
This blog follows what the owners, Eric and Penny Kendall, get up to and shows some of what's on offer to guests.
Summer visitors get FREE lifts, buses and entry to many local attractions including the swimming pools.
Fall-Line magazine - full feature Issue 110 on the Val d'Annivier's top off-piste ski routes (order your back copy).
Zinal opens for weekend skiing 15th November 2015. Resort opens 7 days a week from 19th December 2015 - 10th April 2016. For full details see rma.ch
Save money - visit Switzerland
Despite what the press say skiing in Switzerland doesn't have to be expensive. Zinal and Val d'Anniviers ranks in the Where 2 Ski & Snowboard list as good value. The only other Swiss resort is Meiringen. That makes it better value than many French resorts. Money saving ideas - book your air ticket well in advance - buy your transfer ticket before you arrive. - book your lift ticket in advance - book a room in a catered chalet - ask for a picnic lunch - take a flask for hot drinks on the mountain - bring snacks with you
We came to Zinal to ski and somehow ended up as the owners of an old Auberge. As souvenirs go it's more of a commitment than chocolate or cow bells, particularly when you consider the state it was in. But we wanted a project... This blog has followed the transformation of the building and what we have discovered in this corner of Switzerland. Thanks for visiting the site and we look forward to welcoming you at the chalet as a guest.