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IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

Hundreds of runners braved a lung-busting ascent into the Alps in Switzerland's Glacier 3000 Run on Saturday, albeit on a shortened course due to summer heatwaves melting the ice.

Runners on the last kilometres of a shortened version of Switzerland's Glacier 3000 run above Les Diablerets
Runners on the last kilometres of a shortened version of Switzerland's Glacier 3000 run above Les Diablerets on August 6, 2022. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

The event’s 14th edition was back without limitations after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and run in 2021 with restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The race is normally run over 26.2 kilometres but was contested on a slightly modified 25.2km course this year due to the glacier melting, with the last pass over its surface shortened.

Runners make their way under a ski lift  on the glacier run in Switzerland

Runners make their way under a ski lift during the last kilometres of the Glacier 3000 run. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

“The accelerated melting of the top layer of the glacier has created a camber and a soft layer which the runner sinks into,” said race director Oliver Hermann.

“Rather than intervening to flatten the track, we preferred to deviate the course.”

Runners on last stretch of Switzerland's glacier run

On the final stretch of this year’s shortened course. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

The finish line is 1,886 metres higher than the start, at nearly 3,000 metres up in the mountains by the Scex Rouge peak.

READ ALSO: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes

The route begins in the jet-set ski resort town of Gstaad, at 1,050 metres above sea level.

It passes through forests, green mountain pastures before heading into rocky lunar-like landscapes and taking in the Tsanfleuron Glacier.

The course follows the Saane river upstream for 15 km before climbing up 1,800 metres over the remaining 10 km to the finish line — at an altitude of 2,936 metres.

A couple hold their hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets

A couple hold hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets, where the Glacier 3000 Run took place on August 6th. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

Some 311 men and 98 women completed the individual course, while 50 two-person teams also took part.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

The first man to finish was Kenyan competitor Geoffrey Ndungu in two hours and 17 minutes. He had finished in second place last year.

He was followed by compatriot Abraham Ebenyo Ekwam in 2:21 and then Switzerland’s Jonathan Schmid in 2:23.

Victoria Kreuzer was the first woman to finish, in 2:46, ahead of Nicole Schindler and Pascale Rebsamen — a Swiss clean sweep.

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ENVIRONMENT

EXPLAINED: Why the Swiss government rummages through your garbage

Yes, you heard it right: municipal ‘trash inspectors’ in towns big and small across Switzerland occasionally examine the contents of garbage bags in their communities.

EXPLAINED: Why the Swiss government rummages through your garbage

You may think Switzerland’s obsession with its trash is just plain rubbish.

But the Swiss take waste management very seriously — so seriously, in fact, that every 10 years since 1982, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has foraged through massive amounts of trash collected from 33 sample communes.

However, this has very little to do with the Swiss obsession with cleanliness and everything to do with its obsession for sorting, recycling, and proper waste disposal.

No doubt part of this fixation is the fact that the Swiss population produces around 700 kg of waste per inhabitant every year — one of the highest quantities in Europe.

Yet, paradoxically, Switzerland is also among countries that recycle the most, according to EU statistics.

So why does is the government engaging in a decidedly unpleasant task of going through the waste?

While inspecting trash is not the most glamorous job, it is an important task in Switzerland, as it “provides valuable information on the consumption behaviour of the population”, according to FOEN.

It also “assesses the efficiency of the country’s waste management system”, which is just as well since Switzerland is all about efficiency — whether in terms of punctuality of its trains or trash disposal.

Isn’t going through one’s trash a violation of privacy?

Apparently not.

As a matter of fact, garbage disposal is strictly regulated in Switzerland. And if you think you can just stuff your trash anywhere, toss the bag like a football and leave it where it lands, you are very wrong.

Sorting and disposing of garbage is a painstaking process in Switzerland.

In all towns and villages, trash must be segregated and placed in special bags or in bags that have a special sticker on them, and placed in a designated collection point on assigned days.

READ MORE: Trash talk: What are the rules for garbage disposal in Switzerland?

Not segregating your trash — for instance, throwing out PET bottles with tin cans or paper, or not putting it out on correct days — can result in heavy fines, the amount of which is determined by each individual commune.

Municipal workers have the right to go through trash bags to identify garbage offenders — and they do.

The offenders then receive fines by mail, which they should not toss randomly in the trash, as they may be breaking the law again — instead, they should be recycled with other paper.

While you may be tempted to laugh this off, this is not a joke.

A number of ‘garbage criminals’ have been nabbed in Switzerland in recent years, including a man in Biel / Bienne who put a bag of rubbish out on the street on the wrong day and also failed to attach a municipal tax sticker to the bag.

Unfortunately for the man, two rubbish detectives who regularly patrol the city noticed the offending bags, opened them and examined their contents through which they were able to identify him.

He was fined 150 francs, but since he never paid it (likely throwing it in the trash), state prosecutors ruled that he had to spend two days in jail.

What ‘offending’ objects do inspectors find in the trash?

FOEN said that “many recyclable materials end up in household waste” — for instance paper and cardboard — as well as food.

By far the oddest find, however, was discovered in 2015: a (dead) body that tumbled out of a rolled-up carpet.

There is no word on how the body ended up in trash, or anything else about this incident for that matter.

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