To draw attention to the melting of glaciers in the Alps, ten Dutch climate experts won Europe’s toughest marathon this weekend. After climbing 1,953m over 42km of running, the finish came to the shrinking Eiger glacier in Switzerland.
,, legs? They feel severe pain. The upper legs in particular are acidic, says Tim van Hattom, head of the climate program at Wageningen University. It took him six hours to complete the impressive run, the hottest version of the Jungfrau Marathon ever.
The ten climate mathematicians (from the University of Wageningen, the Rijkswätterstatt and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, among others) decided to accept the challenge because the melting of glaciers in the Alps is of paramount importance to our fresh water supply. “Even if we meet the Paris targets by 2100, half of the glaciers in the Alps will disappear,” says the founder of Run4Climate.
And the world warns that this may lead to a shortage of fresh water, including in our country. Until now, the Rhine was made up largely of meltwater. And if there are fewer glaciers in the future, that also means less water supplies. Van Haatum: “We have to think about it and prepare. If the Rhine turns into a rainy river, it could dry up for a longer period of time.
Aside from the serious message, the event was an unforgettable experience for the Dutch athletes. The first 24km of Interlaken are a bit challenging and easy to do. This is followed by the Wengen Wall which goes up very steeply. Eventually you are in the mountains and you start to see peaks and glaciers.
Of the ten, nine managed to complete the Jungfrau Marathon on time. There was also a real sporting success. Former marathon skier Casper Helling, who advised the group during training about Philofy, finished 100th and third in his age group.
Need a long breath
“The marathon is a good symbol of what we need to do against climate change. Our goal is clear, but it requires a lot of patience. Together we must do everything we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And also for our fresh water supplies,” says van Hattom.
Since 1900, Alpine glaciers have shrunk by at least half. The Jungfrau Marathon, named after the Jungfrau mountain peak, is one of the most popular and toughest marathons in Europe. This year, a Ukrainian runner won the men’s race, while a Swiss runner was the first to reach the top of the women’s race.
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