Last year, the Jungfrau Marathon sold out within four days. If it’s difficult to imagine why so many people would elect to suffer through 26.2 miles of mostly uphill running, consider the astounding course. Starting in the tidy resort town of Interlaken, the route winds by charming Swiss villages, pastures, a valley full of waterfalls, and a prototypical Alpine lake before ending with front-row views of Switzerland’s celebrity peaks: the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. (Think of it as the reward for more than 5,000 vertical feet of climbing in the last ten miles of the race.)
For the marathon’s 20th anniversary this year, race organizers are holding two events—one on Saturday and one on Sunday—to accommodate more runners, including about a hundred masochists who plan to run both. There are also shorter races for kids, an invitational mile race for elite athletes, wheelchair and hand-bike races, and, mercifully, a 2.6-mile mini-marathon for racing newbies. But arguably the best part of racing in Switzerland is the inevitable postrace gorging. Need we mention fondue?