When it came to finding a course designer for the new Ultraks Skyrace in Zermatt, race directors didn’t have to look far. Those responsible for this exciting and technical route are non-other than Zermatt’s local mountaineering trio, the renowned Anthamatten brothers.
Born and raised in the area, the highly-trained mountain guides have been exploring the mountains surrounding Zermatt for as long as they can walk. With all this knowledge and expertise of the area, it’s no wonder the course is said to be an absolute gem. Here, the trail-running specialist of the three, Martin, gives us an insight into the new race and how he went about designing such an extreme course.
A truly unique racing experience
When it came to designing the course for the « EXTREME », my number one priority, more important than distance or altitude, was the experience for the racer. I wanted to create a course that was unique and logical. I took inspiration from races such as Tropheo Kima, Tromsø Skyrace and Glen Coe Skyline. Actually, if I had to describe Ultraks «EXTREME » I would say it’s a love child of all three but with its own unique character and terrain.
The location for the start and finish has always been clear. I, therefore, focused on defining where the best places to ascend and descend would be as the race is very technical. Difficult terrain is much easier in the climb so it was important to ensure the route went the right way. Compared to all other races of the Matterhorn Ultraks, it starts the opposite way, towards the Hohbalm Plateau before passing by iconic locations such as Unter Gabelhorn, Rothornhütte, Furrghorn, Platthorn and Trift. Then it is the downhill towards Zermatt.
5 key stages
The start features a long climb followed by a technical downhill couloir. After this comes a technical traverse, a second ascent, a second technical traverse, glaciers, and a downhill with a nice ridge – and all this in an unusually wild area. As you can see, it’s a truly diversified skyrace and the name fits it perfectly!
Not to be underestimated
My advice to those participating in Friday’s race is don’t underestimate it. The course doesn’t look long on paper, but this kind of technical terrain will take longer to cross than your average mountain trail. To participate in such a race like the Ultraks « EXTREME » it is not enough to be a runner. You have to feel comfortable in the technical terrain. There are also many small but challenging ups and downs where you have to be able to climb easily.
The Matterhorn Ultraks « EXTREME » will take place on Friday August 23rd and will be the 12th race of the 2019 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.