About noon on Sunday, November 29, lookup and rescue models recovered the entire body of Swiss qualified path runner Andrea Huser above the ski vacation resort town of Saas-Fee, in the Swiss Alps. In accordance to a press launch issued by the neighborhood police station, Huser probably lost her footing whilst attempting to cross a stream on a slope beneath the Alpin Express gondola and fell an believed 450 feet. She was 46 a long time old.
Huser’s talents prolonged nicely beyond the sphere of extensive-length path operating, a activity she only ventured into reasonably late in her athletic job. In 2002, she became the inaugural women’s winner in the marathon classification of the European Mountain Biking Championships, a triumph she would stick to with a victory in the 2004 version of Switzerland’s prestigious Eiger Bike Problem. She was a two-time winner (2011, 2012) of the Inferno Triathlon, and a member of Mammut’s ski-mountaineering pro crew. It was not until eventually she was in her mid-40s that Huser knowledgeable what were arguably her greatest athletic successes. In 2017, she was the women’s winner of the Extremely Trail Globe Tour, a title currently held by Courtney Dauwalter. In 2016 and 2017, Huser finished 2nd in the women’s race at UTMB—an accomplishment which, as she famous previously this year on her Facebook web page, was “a spotlight of my lifestyle.”
Following that peak year of 2017, Huser’s relentless racing schedule began to capture up to her. In June of 2020, she introduced that, soon after experiencing her fourth tension fracture in 3 a long time, she experienced made a decision to retire from aggressive running—though not from looking for experience in the mountains in close proximity to her residence in Sigriswil, outdoors the Swiss capital of Bern.
Stephanie Situation, an ultrarunner and U.N. lawyer who life in Chamonix, France, informed me that she met Huser various situations at ultras in 2017. She recollects remaining struck both by how a great deal Huser raced, and by how indifferent she appeared to be about the self-marketing side of the activity. All she needed to do was operate. Following to begin with remaining sponsored by Dynafit and then Mammut, Huser signed a offer with Hoka in 2018. In accordance to an report in the Swiss newspaper Thuner Tagblatt, she also obtained some funding from Professional Sports Sigriswil, her neighborhood club, granting her the monetary leeway to race as far afield as Hong Kong, in which she received the Extremely-Trail Tai Mo Shan in December 2017.
By then, she experienced a good deal of miles in her legs. A rapid lookup of the race benefits web page ultrasignup.com reveals that in 2016 and 2017, Huser completed no less than twenty ultras on 4 continents. Not that she necessarily thought that her prolific schedule was a large offer.
As Situation recollects: “If I expressed issue that I was racing much too a great deal, or that I was accomplishing two races much too shut with each other, Andrea would just look at me like she was truly puzzled. She would look at me and ask: ‘Why not? Why would not you go?’ She was just up for everything.”
Like the a lot of many others in the ultrarunning neighborhood, Situation was deeply saddened to listen to about Huser’s freak accident—one that bore a striking similarity to her possess encounter in January 2017, when she fell a hundred and forty feet throughout a solo New Year’s Working day snowshoe operate in close proximity to Courmayeur, in Italy, just off a path she claims she’s run a “billion times” before. Following her slide, Situation managed to call a helicopter and was finally diagnosed with six damaged ribs, a punctured lung, and a quality III laceration of her liver.
And she was fortunate. Huser’s accident is a agonizing reminder of the inherent hazard of all mountain sports—a hazard that is maybe obscured by the much more flamboyantly dangerous activities like Base leaping or extraordinary skiing. On the day that Huser’s entire body was recovered, the exact same police station posted a further press launch that a 51-year-old hiker experienced slipped on frozen grass in nearby Zermatt and fallen to her dying.
“It under no circumstances transpired to me that I was accomplishing anything risky,” Situation informed me about her accident. “This was snow-shoe operating. It’s, like, ping pong. It’s not supposed to be a dangerous activity.”
Of study course, everyone is wiser in hindsight. Situation informed me that a single of the points that irked her soon after her accident was the amount of people who needed to lecture her on how you need to under no circumstances operate on your own in the mountains. But solo initiatives are an inevitable component of training for an ultra. The hazard is usually heading to be there. But also the reward.
As Huser wrote in her retirement post this summer season: “Nevertheless, I will continue to do many adventures on trails and in the mountains with skis, mountain bikes or path operating sneakers. If everything goes nicely, in 3-four months. The mountains really don’t operate away from me and anticipation is the greatest joy!!!”
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Direct Photo: Ian Corless