Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Featured country of the month: Switzerland

Switzerland is our featured country for June.  With large portions of the country situated in the mountains, it's not surprising that there are some towns and villages located at altitude, but elevated valleys, such as the Engadin, means that you won't always be running up the side of a mountain!

All this month we have been featuring Switzerland and it's altitude training venues on twitter and facebook. Here are some of the country's altitude training highlights.

St Moritz (1,856m) is by far the most popular destination, and is the Swiss national altitude training base. The town is one of the oldest ski resorts in the world, has twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games, and hosts a range of weird and whacky sports and activities on ice and snow in the winter months.  The lakes, forests and mountains which surround the resort, aren't just a winter playground, however, and there is ideal training terrain and facilities for distance runners, cyclists and triathletes, among others.

St. Moritz is particularly beautiful, and there is lot of beautiful scenery to enjoy both while training, and when relaxing afterwards.  The flat trail circles the lake ....

... and well-groomed, undulating trails criss-cross the forests that surround the town.

Pontresina (1,805) and Samaden (1,721m) are located a short distance from St. Moritz, and are both popular bases in their own right.  The same trail system links the three towns, and there is a variety of holiday accommodation available across the whole area, which may be cheaper than St. Moritz.  Pontresina has a swimming pool, and there are good facilities for a variety of sports in Samaden, which also has flat paved routes particularly suitable for racewalking.

There are also a number of towns west of St. Moritz with access to the trails, including the lake-side Champfer (1,825 m) and Silvaplana (1,815 m), both pictured below.

Davos (1,560) is also used as an official Swiss Olympic training base, and it's moderate altitude and excellent facilities makes it a popular choice.There are excellent facilities for a range of sport, both in Davos, and in nearby Kloisters (1,179m), and an excellent network of hiking and biking trails in the area.

Notes from Higher Grounds: An altitude training guide for endurance athletes  features a whole chapter on St. Moritz, and the surrounding towns and villages, and as well as practical advice on how to get there, where to stay, and when to go, has interesting facts about the town and its sorting history.  The book can be purchased here for the special price of just £18 for the month of June.

St. Moritz is without doubt the most beautiful venue that I visited, and I took the opportunity to take lots of photos.  More pictures can be found on facebook and flickR

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