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Trail running takes off in Verbier

Are you a trail enthusiast who wants to work out on challenging routes while marvelling at the beauty of the landscape? Since lockdown in the UK began, more than 858,000 people downloaded the NHS-backed Couch to 5K app. A huge number of Brits used their daily allowance of exercise to hit the streets and local trails and discover the virtue of a cheap and convenient form of exercise. Keeping active is not only good for our physical health but, crucially, our mental health too. Seasoned professionals and everyday runners have extended their joy of running by moving off the pavement during lockdown. With this growing trend, Verbier Val de Bagnes has opened 21 appealing and demanding routes covering 415 km, with 33,000 metres of elevation as well as varying distances and breathtaking views along the way. These next generation courses have all been mapped out by local athletes such as Emily Vaudan, and this new development provides keen runners with marked and downloadable routes. This will help everyone achieve their sporting goals, combining performance with the enjoyment of discovering a magnificent Alpine setting. The Grand Combin massif, the Pierre Avoi and the Ruinette all offer an incredible backdrop to the unique trails in the middle of the Bagnard region. Trail running is a discipline that enables participants to be responsible – with those taking part having to plan their own itineraries. Maps and descriptions are there to inspire, not tell runners how to get equipped. It is with this philosophy that Verbier created the destination’s trails. They are Alpine overall and will suit anyone who wants to master the terrain in a safe and self-sufficient way. The routes were designed to be accessible and to highlight the beauty and variety of the landscape without compromising on its sporting appeal. For a gentle start, try the Tour des Villages, which is not too demanding nor too technical. This helps runners learn how to lengthen their stride, although don’t miss the enchanting view from the Chapel of Vernays as well as the sculptures of the villagers along the Bisse des Ravines (irrigation ways). Short, but intense, the climb up to the Château de Cries is the perfect workout, plus, once at the top, why not stop for a rewarding picnic at the Chapel of St Christopher, with an incredible view of the two valleys? For the more adventurous and energetic, Emily Vaudan recommends the Col des Avouillons, part of the X-Traversée TVSB (Trail Verbier St-Bernard race). Starting or stopping at the Cabane Brunet mountain hut, enjoy a “café Jean-Marc”, before choosing the Château trail “done back to front to warm up your thighs” on the first uphill of the X-Alpine. En route, take a selfie on the impressive Passerelle footbridge with the glacier and the Combins massif in sight. Among all the great advice for trail runners, Emily, who likes to pick up the pace, stresses the importance of preparing every itinerary on the map before venturing out. She says: “When you’re racing, you don’t need to worry about places to refuel, but while training, you need to easily find all the strategic spots where you can pick up supplies such as huts, restaurants, bars or village food shops. The great thing is they are all well marked on the downloadable destination routes”. New: Running with Heidi Trail running is one of the biggest trends in the running sector. No longer just for elite athletes but a challenge awaiting anyone willing to give it a try. More and more people have had to step out of the gym and off the pavement to discover amazing places. Being outdoors and at one with nature provides the perfect escape from our hectic lives. Running in the mountains is sure to reignite a love for sport and the great outdoors. New for summer 2020, 21 signposted routes will give both experienced and amateur runners the chance to explore Verbier – Val de Bagnes – La Tzoumaz, a unique place, a land of thrills and excitement. Verbier is a classic Swiss resort, perched on a sunny, south-facing plateau at 1,500 m with breathtaking views of the Massif des Combins. The village bewitches you with its slate-roofed chalets in the magnificent natural setting of the Val de Bagnes. If you really want to get to know the region, then what could be better than spending time with a local who shares their favourite trails, regional knowledge and top places along the way? This is the innovative concept offered by Sandra Rouiller with tailor-made trail outings. Customers choose the pace, duration and location of their upcoming run before being picked up at their accommodation by the trail guide who will make sure the day goes smoothly. Rates: one hour costs CHF 95 and six hours costs CHF 405 (CHF 10 per additional person).

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. One of the best things about these trails is that they encourage independence by making runners take responsibility for their own route and safety. In the age of GPS and Satnav where we plug an address or co-ordinates of where we want to go, it is all too easy to lose the age-old skills of navigation. And where better to hone those skills than on the beautiful trails of Verbier?

  2. I’ve just read in my newspaper that on average people put on half a stone over lockdown. Personally, I’m about the same weight as I was back in March. I agree more with the spirit of this post than a vague statement in my newspaper.

    Many of my friends are a lot healthier and more fitness conscious than they were. Many are loving not having to commute or waste hours at endless meetings that drag on unnecessarily into the evening. Having used commuting time for biking, jogging and walking or a lunchtime exercise break many people are now looking for a bigger physical challenge – like the Verbier trails.

    1. Seems like a lot of people where I’m located are getting outside even during lockdown so they can exercise. It wasn’t like that during the first week or so, but now after two weeks it’s difficult to keep every body indoors all day long. Whenever I get out there, it helps my mental health tremendously.

  3. Tech really has helped with exercise and I’ve found maps for walks and runs to be particularly helpful. I can appreciate trail running requiring some forethought before you head out so you can plan the route and itinerary so this is a helpful reminder of what to keep in mind. Verbier sounds like a wonderful resort and the assistance for running, getting them from their accommodation and straight out to the trail, is very convenient.

  4. You can almost breathe in the cool, clear mountain air in that picture. Odd really, I hated running and cross country at school. Now, after years in an office, there’s nothing that I like more than getting out and running in the countryside. Those Verbier trails sound like paradise to me.

  5. Those are some beautiful landscapes (went to the Verbier website) and was not really surprised at the enthusiasm people have shown about this place. Aside from gaining health benefits from hiking ang breathing in the fresh air, the scenery will definitely clear your head of all the negativity. It’s also great that you have the option to DIY and plan your trails or go with a local who would be able to give you the best routes. Makes me wish that something similar is available where I am. Can’t wait to get exploring the outdoors again.

  6. I can understand the appeal of running. But I honestly prefer a good walk. My dad is an excellent runner and I know he’d enjoy something like this, I know he has one of those Fit Bits. But I remember one time we went on a hike down in the Dominican Republic and I had practiced beforehand by taking long walks. And I did much than him while hiking that one. I can just as easily enjoy a trail while walking, if not more.

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