Product manager Braunwald Tourism
Hello Gaby,when we presented our idea of crossing Switzerland from east to west in a telephone conversation last year, you immediately reacted with great enthusiasm. Of course, we were very pleased, because we didn't know how the eastern Swiss would react 😊.... What did you like about it?
It was exciting, because you came at exactly the right time. We had generally talked about the topic of trail running in tourism, because there are some great trails and routes in the Glarnerland that are unfortunately not as well known as other destinations. We were looking into this and at the same time we received your request!
At first, I couldn't imagine that there were people running the whole Via Alpina. It was already a special trigger, that there would be a race on the entire Via Alpina. By the way, the Via Alpina is very popular here, we have a lot of hikers who come here and do the Via Alpina. But again, running it in one piece... it was a wow effect, I really liked it. Also, with this race, we are also connected with the other regions. It's a bit of a "Swiss story", which I really appreciate.
How will the people of Braunwald react to this event, when suddenly so many runners arrive? Are they enthusiastic about this kind of event?
I think people will react very well. The first people I informed were very interested. When I told them that the participants were going to run the whole Via Alpina, they had the same reaction as I did: wow, great! And we are mountain people and we are like "native" to the mountain activities and adventures.
Two years ago we started a race on the Linthal - Braunwald route. It is a very popular training route, by amateur runners and mountaineers, where you can do a small race from 600 meters of altitude. We have had very good feedback, it has attracted a lot of people and a certain category of runners. So we think it's a very good project, and the locals will be happy to host Crossing Switzerland. It's a bit of a spectacle - I'm sure it will go down very well.
You say that the municipality of Braunwald has already organised a few races. Is Braunwald itself a typical "sports community"?
Because we live in a landscape with a valley and mountains, it is obvious that we have a lot of mountaineers. We are not the typical trail running community, but this sport also finds an echo here. I have many friends who participate in mountain running. They tend to be amateur runners, but there are a few who do it competitively. However, I don't know anyone who would want to run the Via Alpina (laughs)... but it definitely creates a positive buzz.
Why do you think Crossing Switzerland and Braunwald go so well together?
I think it fits really well together because Braunwald is a rather unknown destination, and yet we're right in the middle of it: the Via Alpina passes through us. It's really a privilege for us to be part of it. Braunwald lies at an altitude of 1,300 metres and is only accessible by funicular (or runners). I like the fact that you have to climb 600 metres first before you can join us. That's what the Crossing Switzerland is all about: you pass through passes, you cross valleys, you have to climb mountain villages... We have that in common.
Braunwald is home to a base camp where runners can sleep and receive a hot meal. Base camps play a central role for runners. They are often synonymous with a little comfort. What do you hope to get out of being a base camp?
For this year, I'm actually very excited to see how it goes. This is the first time we will do this, and we take our role with the runners very seriously. Being a base camp is our central role for this year and we want to do it well. We are aware of how important this is for the runners, and I am sure that everything will go well.
I also hope that runners will take notice of Braunwald and that this will encourage local runners to join us!
A special question for the end... we have seen pictures of you on top of the mountains. As there are no lifts in the photo, we assume you are active in the mountains. Can we invite you to be part of the Crossing Switzerland runners next year?
It's not possible, I have to run the Basecamp 😊 (laughs). That's my excuse... I don't know anything about trail running. On the other hand, I would love to hike the Via Alpina and cross it once. With Crossing Switzerland, I would probably drop dead at the first base camp (laughs)... No, I'm more of a hiker and mountaineer.
- Léa Guiraud, Paul van der Linden -