I finished the Via Alpina in 103 hours and 9 minutes, being self-supported. I started running in Gaflei (near Vaduz Lichtenstein) on Wednesday evening Augst 5th, 2020 (8pm local Swiss time). After 390km, 23500m of elevation gain over 14 Alpine passes, I finished just after 3am in Montreux on Augst 10th.
For verification, my coordinates of the spot-tracker are available for the entire route. For ~95% of the route, I also have registered GPX files using my Garmin watch. These GPX files of the watch are not covering the full route because I had to charge the batteries sometimes.
Day 1: I covered ~130km from Gaflei to Attinghausen. This took just over 24h, partly because I got really tired (and dehydrated) at the end of this first day. I slept in a hotel in Attinghausen for ~5h before leaving the next morning. This was longer sleep than planned, but I wanted a chance to recover from this very long first day.
Day 2: I covered ~84km from Attinghausen to Grindelwald. This section has more elevation than the first day, but I moved relatively quickly. My late start (6:45am) made me arrive in Grindelwald just before 10 pm. This was just in time to find a hotel, and food from a restaurant.
Day 3: I covered only ~57km to Kandersteg. This section goes over big climbs with steep and technical downhills. This, in combination with the heat and sun, made me feel very weak when I arrived in Kandersteg ~3:45 pm. Initially, I thought I would take a short break, but I felt too weak to go out again in the full sun. Rather than continuing for another ~35km, I decided to call it a day and found accommodation in Kandersteg. There was however nothing available, which meant that I took the train to a hotel in Frutigen (~25min away).
Day 4: After a long sleep, and a good meal, I felt refreshed at the start of day 4. The first train to Kandersteg arrived only by 6:45am, so I started at 6:50am in the morning. This day running went excellent, and (to my surprise) I managed to finish the route by covering the last ~115km (and 7000m of elevation) in just over 21h. The last 30km took very long and was mentally taxing. The reward, crossing Switzerland in just over 100 hours, was worth every bit of this suffering.
This was my first attempt at a distance exceeding 100miles, which meant that this effort was a big experiment. Using the list below, I ran the entire route self-supported. The route comes across towns and mountain huts fairly regularly (i.e. every few hours) meant that I could get food and drinks from supermarkets, mountain huts, vending machines, and restaurants. Switzerland has many streams and water points which I used for the necessary water. I slept in hotels I found along the way. As I was out by myself all the time, I was conservative with getting enough sleep to avoid any dangerous situations.
- 1 pair of shoes (Hoka Speedgoat)
- Salomon run vest
- Running band
- 2 pair of socks
- 2 t-shirts
- 1 legging
- 1 rainjacket
- 2 x long sleeve
- small first aid kit
- 3x 0.5l bottles
- Powerbank and charging cables
- SPOT3 GPS tracker
- 2 Headlamps
- Toothpaste and toothbrush