With our first fall edition of World Vertical Week here, we decided to up the ante and give you all a nudge in the right direction; yes, the vertical direction! Why not stack up your vertical meters in one go by attempting a vertical k route?
These nine routes are based on some of the premier vertical k races on the planet. There’s nothing stopping you trying one - or entering the race next time.
A vertical k race is an uphill mountain running race that ascends 1000 m and usually, but not always, covers no more than five kilometers in distance; the toughest ones are short and sharp! Born in the Alps in 1994, the first vertical kilometer race took place in Cervinia, Italy, on the lower slopes of the Matterhorn and was won by Italian Ettore Champretavy in a time of 40’44”. Ever since, the times have been getting faster and faster.
Click on any of the nine vertical ks below to add the route to your Suunto watch and then get out there and see how fast you can get it done!
Kilomètre vertical de Fully, Switzerland
The climb: 1000 vertical meters in 1920 m
Fastest time: 28m53s
Sometimes called the mother of vertical k races, the Kilomètre vertical de Fully covers 1000 m in 1920 m making it the shortest and fastest vertical k race in the world. With a gradient of at least 50% of the use of trekking poles is essential.
The race starts at the Belle-Usine cathedral in Fully (500m) in the heart of the Alps and then follows an old railway line to Les Garettes village (1500m). The course crosses vineyards that line the slopes of Fully. After leaving the village there’s a short section of meadow and then plunges into the forest to follow a straight line leading to the finish.
Blåmann Vertical, Norway
The climb: 1044 vertical meters in 2.7 km
Fastest time: 35m20s
One of the races held at the annual Tromsø Skyrace event, the Blåmann Vertical route climbs Store Blåmann, the highest peak on the stunning Kvaløya Island located above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway.
In the event of wet conditions, the race organizers advise extra caution on the last section of the climb to the summit because it can be challenging.
Limone Extreme Vertical, Italy
The climb: 1100 vertical meters in 3 km
Fastest time: 36m02s
Famous for its incredible views from high above Lake Garda in northern Italy, the Limone Extreme Vertical ascends rocky trail, crosses olive groves and becomes more and more technically challenging as it climbs higher and higher.
The climb: 3,036 vertical meters in 9.7 km
Fastest time: 1h58m53s
Starting in the centre of the historical alpine town Susa in Piedmont, the BEI K3 is currently the only triple vertical k race in the world. It starts at 503 m and climbs to the summit of Monte Rocciamelone (3,538 m), where the brutal ascent is finally rewarded with incredible views.
Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer, Spain
The climb: 1,203 vertical meters in 7.6 km
Fastest time: 47m22s
Starting at Tazacorte beach on La Palma in the Canary Islands, the route ascends the GR 131 trail, the El Time cliff face to Tijarafe and continues to a forest look out tower located at 1,600 m where sweeping views of the northside of the island and the Aridane Valley can be enjoyed.
DoloMyths Run Vertical Kilometer, Italy
The climb: 1,000 vertical meters in 2 km
Fastest time: 31m34s
Held in the iconic Dolomite mountains in northern Italy, this vertical k sponsored by Suunto punches a hefty ascent in a short distance. Moreover, the average gradient on the climb is 50%, increasing to 70% for significant sections.
Lone Peak Vertical, USA
The climb: 1,107 vertical meters in 4.58 km
Fastest time: 45m57s
Considered one of the most brutal three-mile runs out there, the Lone Peak Vertical rewards its finishers with incredible views of southwest Montana from Lone Peak summit (3,403 m). The second half of the race is what gives its reputation for toughness; it’s extremely steep, with rocky technical ground, exposed positions and rockfall risk.
Nordkette Seilbahnsteig, Austria
The climb: 1,000 vertical meters in 3.5 km
Fastest time: 52m16s
Meet Innsbruck, Austria’s steepest staircase, the cable car route that ascends from Hungerburg via the most direct line to Seegrube (1,905 m), a peak in the Nordkette (North Chain) mountain range located north of Innsbruck. The route climbs stairs, goes over tree roots, through forest and meadows and up to the summit. The good news is you can catch the cable car back down.
Zegama-Aizkorri VK, Spain
The climb: 1,015 vertical meters in 3.4 km
Fastest time: 34m55s
One of the races at the hughely popular Zegama-Aizkorri Mendi Maratoia event in northern Spain, the total course length is 5,200 m long (3000 m timed) with 1,015 m vertical climb up the Sierra Aizkorri, the highest mountain in a part of Basque Country renowned for hiking.
All images by Philipp Reiter