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Inferno Race

What is the Inferno Race ?

The Inferno Race in the Swiss Alpine resort of Mürren was organized for the first time in 1928 by a group of “ski-crazy” Brits. Today it is the largest amateur skiing race in the world.

Sir Arnold Lunn, the founder of the Kandahar Ski Club, founded the Inferno race so there’s a large contingent of British Kandahar members taking part in the Inferno week.

This spectacular annual event is so popular that participation has to be limited to “only” 1850 competitors – a few hundred applicants are still being rejected each year. The course covers 14.9 kilometres of contrasting terrain and topography and is open to the skiing public at other times of the year.

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The Inferno Race is particularly suited to allround skiers. As the official documentation explains: “The upper part of the course demands downhill turning technique and an optimal line. The middle section calls for an ideal downhill position and fast gliding. From the “Kanonenrohr” to the “Höhenlücke” technically superior skiers come into their own. Over the stretch from Maulerhubel to Winteregg, skating step and arm power can be all-important. And from Winteregg-Spriessenkehr to Lauterbrunnen optimal equipment, a clean downhill position and – not least – mental stamina can be the key to a fast final time.”

The night before the race, there’s the Devil’s Dance: a procession of villagers and a band dressed up as devils that walk around the village with flaming torches, finally arriving at the ice rink where a great big devil figure is burnt on a stake to give all racers good luck for the following day.

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Briefly, the course can be summarised as follows: The Start is located just below the ‘Kleines Schilthorn’. From here, the course continues through the Engetal to the Schilthorn Hut. Then follows a long drawn-out “S” to just below the Muttlerenhorn, followed by the challenge of the Kanonenrohr. Next comes a further “Double S” and a sharp right curve. The course climbs into woodland, crossing below the Maulerhubel chairlift. A slight ascent then leads to Winteregg over the Winteregg Bridge, joining the forest trail in the direction of Lauterbrunnen.
The racers start 12 seconds apart all day long until the very last racer sets off around 3:30pm, and the course is infinitely better at the very beginning.
This attractive course can be covered by competent skiers in about 45 minutes. The winner of the Inferno Race takes less than 15 minutes.

Important race dates:

First Inferno race in 1928
Start at Schilthorn 2970 m
Finish line Lauterbrunnen 800 m
Difference in altitude 2170 m
Length of course 14,9 km
Record holder men Kuno Michel (13.20.53) 2013
Record holder women Nicole Bärtschi (14.46.43) 2013

 

To register for the race you need to be a member of a club that’s participating and enter the ballot for start numbers. You can either create your own club and register directly with the Inferno Office in Mürren (the form will be available from May and the deadline is by September).

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