Tuesday, March 29, 2011

29th Allalin-Race in Saas-Fee

This year, the legendary Allalin Race will take place in Saas-Fee on 1 and 2 April. Once again, around a thousand participants will speed down the mountain from an altitude of 3,600 m to the finish line at 1,800 m− a thrilling 9 km descent that will test participants to the limit. The event is one of the four races in Switzerland’s top amateur downhill series, the "Super Vier". Alongside the Allalin Race in Saas-Fee there are the Belalp Hexe, the Inferno Mürren and the Parsenn Derby. Every year, the organisers of the "Super Vier" calculate the overall standings of the around 140 racers who take part in all four races to crown the two winners, male and female, of the "Super Vier" as a whole. The award ceremony and presentation of the much-coveted cup always takes place at the Allalin Races, the last of the four races. The course for the Allalin Races is a steep 1,800 m descent covering a distance of 9 km. Starting at a panoramic height of 3,600 m and surrounded by the highest mountains in the Swiss Alps, the race course passes through an awe-inspiring glacial landscape, over impressive escarpments and through hair-raisingly narrow passages, such as the infamous Kanonenrohr (barrel of a gun). The finish line is located at 1,800 m on the Kalbermatten sports ground, where racers are greeted by crowds of cheering spectators and have the chance to gather their strength after the challenges of the descent. Participants can enter four different events: the Team Race, the Fun Team Race, the His and Hers Race, and the individual men’s or women’s races. While the individual events are aimed at racers who want to clock up a new personal best by hurtling down the course at breakneck speeds, the Fun Team Race is better suited to those wanting to descend the mountain at a more leisurely pace and who are just here for the fun of it. In this category, stopping at the various mountain restaurants along the way is almost mandatory and dressing up is actively encouraged. Apparently, in the past some teams have even plonked themselves down in the snow for a quick cheese fondue. It’s no wonder, then, that teams in this category have been known to take over five hours to "race" down to the finish line.By contrast, an ambitious, highly trained athlete can complete the course in less than five minutes! However, the most incredible feat of the 2010 races was the time posted by its oldest participant, Ernst Berger. Born in 1919, the proud 91-year-old completed the exhilarating descent in an impressive 7½ minutes (7:31.32)! Clearly, age is no excuse for avoiding a challenge. After the races on Friday and Saturday, participants and spectators will gather at the finish area to celebrate the day’s events and dance the night away. Food and drink, musical entertainment and a party atmosphere will keep them going through to the early hours.

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