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Swiss border guards set new record in Glacier Patrol race

Swiss border guards have set a new record in the Glacier Patrol race from Zermatt to Verbier. The three-man team completed the 53-kilometre course in just over seven hours, ten minutes faster than their previous record, set in 1998.

The weather was on their side, as Damien Farquet, Emmanuel Buchs and Rico Elmer skied out of Zermatt at two o'clock on Saturday morning. The temperature at 3000 metres was a chilly minus one, perfect for the Glacier Patrol.

The team made good progress as they trekked and skied their way over the Valais Alps. Intermittent rain and snow hindered their progress in some parts, but the favourable conditions held.

Seven hours and three minutes later, they glided into Verbier, ahead of the other 327 teams, to find they'd smashed their 1998 record by ten minutes.

The Glacier Patrol race started life as a test of stamina for troops during the Second World War. Eighteen three-man teams competed in the first race in 1943 - then a 63-kilometre trek between the two towns. The winners of that race needed 12 hours and seven minutes to complete the course.

In 1984, the rules were modified so civilians could participate.

Tragedy has struck the race twice: in 1949, three skiers were killed; and this year, two skiers disappeared after losing their way in thick fog between Zermatt and Arola.

swissinfo with agencies

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