Wednesday, 06 November 2019 09:08

The Marathon des Saveurs - a flavour of Switzerland

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Forget sports gels and isotonic drinks…… a race fuelled by raclette, strudel and a litres worth of Swiss wine - its grapes grown right there in the terraced vineyards you’re running through - is just the thing to round of a season of trail running.

And if, like me, whilst you’re interested in running your "best time" on this occasion, you want to have your ‘best time possible’ by trying local culinary delights and actually stopping to enjoy the scenery and the festive atmosphere, then taking part in the Marathon des Saveurs in the Swiss Valais region is just the thing.

Marathon of flavours 2

It’s also the perfect way to welcome in the Autumn, when leaves are turning a glorious gold and orange, there are fewer tourists around and a buzz surrounding the annual grape harvest.

This year was the first ever 'Marathon des Saveurs.' Beginning with a staggered start in ‘Place de la Planta’ in the medieval town of Sion, the 23km route which has 650 meters of climbing, follows the path of the “bisses” (ancient irrigation channels) and passes through the mythical ‘chemin du vignoble’ and the villages of St-Léonard, Vaas, Corin, Venthône and Miège. It continues through sunny, south-facing vineyards overlooking the Rhone Valley, ending in the wine village of Salgesch, the linguistic border between French and German speaking Swizterland. 

Project leader of the Genuss marathon, Laoni Merner, says they came up with the idea three years ago for sports people who enjoy good food and wine. “At the beginning the winemakers weren’t very enthusiastic, then we explained the idea and they became really enthusiastic.” The best thing about the race, she says, is that “you walk from Sion to Salgesch, passing from the French to the German part of Valais / Wallis and you can see the whole valley and different types of grapes grown there, and you can speak to the people who produce the wine.”

You can run or hike the route- as you’ve got all day to pass through five tasting stops where you can sample 2 local wines such as Fendant and - my favourite -Johannesburg - and a speciality from the region.

Just don’t lose your booze tickets- or forget you glass!

WATCH: Katy Dartford become a ‘sports gourmand’ at the inaugural ‘Marathon des Saveurs.'