The Sierre-Zinal is a highly regarded and competitive mountain race that takes place in the Swiss canton of Valais. It is also known as the race of five 4000s, as the route takes competitors in sight of five peaks of over four thousand meters: Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn, Obergabelhorn, Matterhorn, and Dent Blanche.
Part of the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup, Sierre-Zenal is the sixth Gold Label Race of the season.
With 31km awaiting the runners – including 2100m of elevation and 900m vertical drop – here is everything you need to know.
Date, start time & live tracking
The ‘runner race’ – including the elite invitees – gets underway at 11:00 local time (10:00 UK) on Saturday, August 13, with the ‘tourist race’ getting underway from 04:45 local time (03:45 UK).
You can watch the race live here from 11:30 local time (10:30 UK).
In the heart of the Valais Alps, the 31km course will test the mettle of some of the world’s leading athletes.
Beginning in Sierre, runners face a steady climb in the early stages of the race as thy pass through Beauregard and Ponchette before reaching Chandolin – a climb of 1,420m to the mid-point of the race.
A further, shallower climb takes competitors through Tignousa and Hotel Weisshorn before the course peaks at Nava – 85% through the treacherous course.
The final salvos of the race see runners drop downhill through Barneuza before a final kilometre drop of over 400m to the finish line in Zina.
Facts, Tips & FAQ
Regular running shoes are acceptable as long as they provide sufficient support.
With sections of the race reaching, 2000 meters above sea level there is the risk of bad weather conditions and so it is advisable to wear suitable mountain clothes such as long sleeve tops and full leg coverings. This particularly applies to the ‘tourist’ category of runner.
There are seven aid stations on the course:
- Beauregard (4km)
- Ponchette (7.5km)
- Chandolin (12km)
- Tignousa (16km)
- Hotel Weisshorn (20km)
- Nava (24km)
- Barneuza (27km)
Competitors will need to complete the course by 17:30 local time, but failure to pass certain checkpoint – Chandolin (10:40 ‘tourist’/14:10 ‘runner’), Tignousa (12:00/14:40) and Hotel Weisshorn (13:30/15:20) – will also see a runner forced to drop out.
Competitors are prohibited from running with poles or sticks, nor are they allowed to run with dogs.
How to qualify and enter the Sierre-Zinal
Registration began on Saturday, April 2, through the Datasport website with entries available on a first come first serve basis.
The cost of both the ‘runner’ entry – for athletes expecting to run the course in under four hours – and ‘tourist’ entry – all other athletes – is 85 Swiss Francs 9CHF) (£74.30).
Elite runners can also earn an invitation to the race under the following criteria:
To qualify for Elite invitations:
- Men must complete the race under 2h50; women must complete the race under 3h20.
- You must have completed several trail running events.
- You must have completed several track running events (5k, 10k, half-marathon or marathon).
Sierre-Zinal banks on:
- Recognised athletes
- Future talents
- Athletes having performed significantly in various kinds of running events
- Ethnic diversity
Runners will be competing for a 2000 CHF first prize in both the men’s and women’s races, with the top ten securing prize money.
Sierre-Zinal records and past winners
Kilian Jornet has dominated the Sierre-Zinal in recent years with a record nine wins since 2009. He set a course record of 2:25:35 in 2019.
Maude Mathys has won the women’s race for the last three years and set the course record of 2:46:03 when winning the 2021 race.
Both Jornet and Mathys will be competing in the 2022 race.
2009 Spain Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2010 Spain Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2011 Marco De Gasperi (Italy)
2012 Marco De Gasperi (Italy)
2013 Marc Lauenstein (Switzerland)
2014 Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2015 Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2016 Petro Mamu (Eritrea)
2017 Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2018 Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2019 Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2020 Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2021 Kilian Jornet (Spain)
2009 Anna Pichrtova (Czech Republic)
2010 Megan Lund (USA)
2011 Oiha Kortazar Aranzeta (Spain)
2012 Aline Camboulives (France)
2013 Italy Elisa Desco (Italy)
2014 Stevie Kremer (USA)
2015 Lucy Wambui Murigi (Kenya)
2016 Michelle Maier (Germany)
2017 Lucy Wambui Murigi (Kenya)
2018 Lucy Wambui Murigi (Kenya)
2019 Maude Mathys (Switzerland)
2020 Maude Mathys (Switzerland)
2021 Maude Mathys (Switzerland)