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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Reader question: How do I recycle plastics in Switzerland?

Recycling culture is very strong in Switzerland, with special bins for various kinds of trash available practically everywhere, either on streets or in communal dumpsters. But disposing of plastics is sometimes a problem.

Reader question: How do I recycle plastics in Switzerland?

Recycling bins are a common sight in all Swiss towns and villages.

They have separate slots for PET bottles, glass, cardboard, paper, tins, aluminium, and batteries. There are also some where fruit and vegetables can be composted.

All this to say that being environmentally friendly is easy in Switzerlans — and most people are.

According the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), which is responsible for waste management in Switzerland, the country’s overall recycling rate is about 53 percent — one of the highest in the world.

The 47 percent who don’t bother to recycle are not only irresponsible, but they also are breaking municipal laws that mandate that trash must be correctly segregated before disposal.

What this means is that no items that should be recycled — as those mentioned above — should be thrown into garbage bags.

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

Failing to comply with the recycling rule can (if you identified through trash bag search — result in heavy fines, the amount of which is determined by each individual commune.

READ ALSO: Why the Swiss government rummages through your garbage 

The matter of plastics

Some mistakes, however, could be caused by simply not knowing how or where to recycle certain items, like plastics.
That’s because rules are not clear enough about the correct way of disposing of this particular material.

As one reader pointed out, there are “no plastic recycling bins to put it in. What are we supposed to do with plastic?”

That’s a good question, considering that, according to FOEN,780,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated each year in Switzerland.

Out of that, “around 80,000 tonnes are recycled. In contrast to many other countries, Switzerland has not used landfill sites for combustible waste since the year 2000,” FOEN says. “Therefore, all plastic waste must be recycled or incinerated in an environmentally compatible manner.”

So what should households do with their plastic waste, given that no special recycling bins exist?

There are different rules for different type of plastics

Much depends on what you need to dispose of.

If you have PET bottles, you will find a recycling bin especially for them.

Bottles should be flattened before you throw them down the shoot.

When it comes to containers that are not marked ‘PET’, but which have tops — for instance, milk cartons, shampoo bottles, and laundry or dishwasher detergent containers — they should be brought back to supermarkets for recycling.

Grocery stores typically have special disposal chutes for these containers.

And you can bring these items to any supermarket in Switzerland, not necessarily to the one you purchased them from.

There are also plastic containers in which food is sold; typically, you will find a trash bag sign on them, meaning you can throw them out with regular waste because they are biodegradable.