The inaugural Wildstrubel by UTMB draws a big field ready to enjoy the stunning Swiss Alps
Next up in the 2022 UTMB World Series is a brand-new event in Europe that features three courses set in the spectacular northern Alps of Switzerland.
Following on from the success of UTMB Mont-Blanc last month, the inaugural Wildstrubel by UTMB, has attracted a large and high-quality field, with more than 2,000 runners from Europe and as far afield as India, Brazil and New Zealand due to take part.
This event is sure to establish itself as a classic that will become a mecca for passionate runners as they take on tough, often wild courses, with challenging climbs set in the magical scenery of the Valais and Bernese Alps.
Runners will enjoy the backdrop of mountains and glaciers, but also flowering pastures, lakes and chalet villages of one of the most unspoilt areas of central Europe as the hot summer gives way to autumn.
The event's “Queen Race,” the WILD 108, features a course around the imposing Wildstrubel massif and the Plaine Morte Glacier, crosses two cantons - Bern and Valais - and starts and finishes in the iconic resort of Crans-Montana. Awarding three Running Stones, this route includes 108km, 5,700 meters of elevation and six main climbs.
The WILD 50, starts at the attractive and historic alpine village of Adelboden from where runners will take on the renowned Chuenisbärgli ski slope before the famous Via Alpina and then a big climb up to the Rawil Pass. This course also finishes at Crans-Montana after a route with 2,500 meters of elevation gain.
The shortest challenge, meanwhile, is the WILD 25. This starts at Leukerbad and offers what the organisers describe as a “condensed” version of the Valais atmosphere, with memorable passages through alpine pastures and forest trails amid breathtaking views and with 1,150 meters of ascent.
Race director Ryan Baumann is a highly experienced ultra runner who still competes and has finished the UTMB Mont-Blanc four times. He says he brings his passion for trail running to his role. “Now I have less time to train, so I run less ultras,” he said. “But as race director, I am able to share that experience with other runners and to see those emotions in the eyes of the runners.”
Baumann believes athletes have been attracted to this new event by the setting as much as the courses. “I think it's what people are looking for,” he explained. “There is a wide variety of landscape. It's a race that is very attractive and very accessible. You can find yourself in wild passes and then, half an hour later, in an Alpine village like Adelboden. Then all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of nature again.”
Among the favourites in the women's division of the WILD 50 will be the successful young Icelandic runner Andrea Kolbeinsdóttir. For the 23-year-old medical student from Reykjavík, this will be her first UTMB World Series event - she hopes to compete in many more - and her first trail-running race away from home.
“I have never competed in a race like this outside Iceland, so it is very exciting,” she said. “I started as a track runner and running 5km and 10km on the roads. Then last year I started doing ultra runs and training runs in the mountains and fell in love with that.”
This will be only the third time that Kolbeinsdóttir will have gone to 50km and she will also be running at a higher altitude than ever before, but she is hoping for a strong result up amongst the men. The setting of the Wildstrubel by UTMB is definitely an attraction for her.
“Oh yes, of course, it looks so amazing,” she said, “and that's what I love about the trail and ultra-running environment - it's so crazy and beautiful. So, I will try to enjoy that, although I will also be trying to be as fast as I can.”
In the men's WILD 50 field, the Chinese runner Yun Yanqiao will be looking for another strong result as he concludes his summer of competing at European UTMB World Series events. Aged 34, Yanqiao won the 55km PDA race at Val d'Aran by UTMB in July and will be looking to round off his European tour with another podium finish.
“This is the last race I could participate in before I leave Europe,” he said. “I hope to admire the beautiful landscape in Switzerland while I am running and I am very much looking forward to the competition. I would like to meet other European athletes at this event and enjoy a wonderful journey together with my family and friends because of this race.”
In the WILD 108, the elite Swiss runner Emily Vaudan, who won the Trail Verbier St-Bernard by UTMB earlier this year, goes into it as top-ranked in the UTMB Index. The 38-year-old accountant from Le Châble near Verbier, who finished 12th at UTMB just a few weeks ago, has done a recce of the new course from Crans-Montana and was impressed by what she saw.
“I went to discover the Wildstrubel by UTMB course in June and I was immediately won over,” she said. “There are extraordinary landscapes and the people I met were really very nice. So that's also what motivated me to register for this race. The objective is to have recovered from the UTMB - so, I hope to have some legs and be able to do a good race.”
Vaudan is enjoying the challenge of the 2022 UTMB World Series. “I think the new UTMB World Series is a very good idea,” she said. “It allows all trail runners to be able to take part in events without travelling too much. There are many races in each country. In Switzerland, we are lucky to have three and in my canton - Valais - we even have two, so I will have done both of them.”
Enjoy high-quality video coverage and follow runners of Wildstrubel by UTMB at live.utmb.world.
Including Wildstrubel by UTMB there are 10 events still to come in the 2022 UTMB World Series, offering something for every runner across Switzerland, Slovenia, France, Spain, Australia, Mexico, Hong Kong, Thailand and Sweden. All finishers of UTMB World Series events are awarded Running Stones which can be used to enter the lottery for the UTMB World Series Finals, which will take place in the UTMB, CCC and OCC races of the UTMB Mont-Blanc in 2023.
Find out more about the 2022 calendar and how to enter here.