It's well known that Switzerland is a favourite choice for snow sports enthusiasts, but in case you weren’t aware, it makes an excellent destination all year round for anyone seeking an active holiday. We were lucky enough to find out why.
Putting the jaw dropping scenery aside for a moment, there are plenty of other reasons why it might be worth planning your summer holiday in Switzerland. Let’s start with the running (as that’s why we’re here).
We met pre-flight with our chaperones from Human Race and the Swiss Tourist board who were organising the trip in a bid to persuade us that Switzerland makes a great destination for runners and triathletes alike. On touching down in Zurich all of the chaos of travelling in London was long forgotten; one immediate plus for Switzerland is that public transport runs like a well oiled cuckoo-clock. We hopped straight onto a direct train to Lucerne, which is in the north-central region of Switzerland and about an hour from Zurich and has the tagline of ‘The City. The Lake. The Mountains'; in this way it’s unique, there aren’t many cities with a backdrop quite so stunning.
Upon our arrival, we put on our trainers and the founders and organisers of the recently renamed Swiss City Marathon took us to their offices, which just happened to be on the top floor of a lakeside office block with amazing panoramic views. Yes, it was as idyllic as it sounds. After scoping out the course from above, we set out to run the first few miles of the route. The next couple of hours were spent running the most beautiful parts of the course (we were chauffeured to the organiser’s favourite sections so we had the chance to run the highlights of the stunning course - ideal).
The course profile is pretty flat with some undulating features, but frankly with scenery as beautiful as it is here, your mind is on other things. Running this route (or part of it) independently would be just as straight forward as taking it on as part of an organised event. The sign posting and trail mapping infastructure is first class and so seamless that it’s apparently impossible to get lost. There are even trail posts marked out for kayakers. If you were after more hill or trail running, there are plentiful options for tourist-friendly running. From what I saw, I’d recommend the race to anyone after a destination marathon.
Day two saw us leaving Lucerne and travelling out of city by train, which was once again a stress free affair. An hour south is Engelberg, one of Switzerland’s leading mountain resorts. It’s a picturesque Christmas card town and you can see why people flock in their masses through the winter seasons but it also has a lot to offer in the summer months. The trail running options here are excellent with varying profiles and terrains to keep things interesting for all levels and abilities.
Once you've had your fill of running up mountains, you can always try something new like mountain biking. Bike hire options are abundant and in the afternoon we grabbed some bikes and followed our trusty guide into the hills. As a complete beginner the sight of a steep rocky descent sent chills through my bones, but there was plenty of scope (and patience) for me to manoeuvre the tricky bits. By the end of the ride I felt suitably challenged and suitably thrilled by the mountain air and down hill stretches.
Back to Lucerne we went in time for a spot of culture and then to the airport to buy industrial loads of chocolate and thus marking the end of the whistle-stop tour. It turns out 48 hours is enough time to fall in love.
If you’re still not sold on Switzerland for an active holiday destination, Swiss chocolate might be worth mentioning again at this point. Oh and the Bircher muesli.
Human Race, the UK's largest sport events company recommends Switzerland as a great training destination for triathlon, running, cycling and open water swimming. www.humanrace.co.uk/switzerland