By Jakob Herrmann
Organizing a 50k, 100k, and 100-mile race from Southern California is no small task. Jakob Herrmann grew up in Brig and immigrated to the USA in 1998. After getting his college degree, he worked for large companies like Disney, Sony and Legalzoom as a web developer. After years of sitting at a desk, without doing any physical activities and with a weight of almost 200 pounds, Jakob started running. At the 2019 Javelina Jundred, he will be running his 100th ultramarathon which will also be his 27th 100-mile finish. He is the co-RD and 49% owner of the Angeles Crest 100 and was always interested in organizing his own race. So, he thought, why not create a beautiful race in the area he grew up and hiked so much as a child. And like that, the idea of creating the Swiss Alps 100 was born.
The first two years he spent time planning the race course on the computer, creating over 30 variations of what could be the perfect route. In the summer of 2016, together with his wife, Linda, and friends Dan, Stephen, and Lily Marinsik, they ran the 80k course which would be offered for the inaugural race in 2017. That first year, the race was started in Oberwald and the finish line was in Simplon Dorf. Fifty runners from 14 countries stood at the starting line and 39 crossed the finish.
Going forward, many runners asked for a tough 100-mile course so in 2019 that’s what they got. With a total elevation gain of 34,600 feet, the course was tough but also very beautiful, traversing over three suspension bridges, a big dam and through many idyllic villages. The race was now also a Western States 100 qualifier and runners get 6 points for the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). These added goodies and the growing reputation of a stunning course led to an amazing 308 registrations from 30 countries for the race this year.
The fastest runner in the 100-mile distance was Antoine Bouchet (France) completing the race in a fast 28:59:19. Denise Zimmerman (Switzerland) was the female winner with an amazing time of 31:14:12. A total of 44 runners finished the 100-mile course. In the 100k distance, which had 96 finishers, Andreas Manz (Switzerland) won the race in 14:17:28 and Helen Ogi (Switzerland) was the first female with a time of 15:53:22. The 50k distance had 64 finishers with Fabrice Fauser (Switzerland) the first male (5:16:55) and Kerstin Dusch (Switzerland) the first female (6:42:15).