Monthly Archives: February 2013

26/2/13 – Engadine marathon: 12 days to go

Only 42km to go... Racers set off in last year's Engadine cross-country marathon

Only 42km to go… Racers set off in last year’s Engadine cross-country marathon

I am 10 days into my fitness regime in preparation for the Engadine marathon, a 26-mile cross-country ski race I’m doing for the first time on Sunday, March 10.

I entered last year but tripped over while out running a month beforehand and hurt my shoulder, so I went as a spectator instead.

This time I’m all booked up to go and it doesn’t look as though I will get out of it.

This didn’t really register until just under a month before race day, at which point I vowed to ‘do something’ every day – especially when I saw that among the other British racers entered are certain Middleton siblings who made impressive times in the much longer Vassaloppet last year.

Anyway, here’s how my preparation has turned out so far…

February 13 – 1hr yoga at lunchtime (ought to start gently, I reasoned…).

February 14 – 2 x circuits of Hyde Park on a Boris bike at lunchtime, as fast as I could, starting at Victoria (about 45min in total). It was warm, sunny, busy and pretty hazardous: I had a near-head-on with a Boris-tourist who didn’t know we Brits are used to riding on the left.

February 15 – In Scotland for a long weekend after getting the overnight sleeper train to Inverness. About 2hr of downhill skiing at Aviemore (little effort, much fun) and 90min walking up Cairngorm on skins (much effort, just as much fun).

February 16 – 90min of cross-country skiing on the excellent trails of Clashindarroch Forest on borrowed skating skis and boots, and a 50min hike to the top of the Cairngorm funicular on foot.

February 17 – Another 90min of cross-country skiing in Clashindarroch Forest – quite strenuous due to slushy conditions, and excellent sunny weather, so base-tan benefited, too.

February 18 – 1hr horse ride (more work for the horse).

The Boris: not just a way from A to B

The Boris: not just a way from A to B

February 19 – 2 x circuits of Hyde Park, as before and probably a bit faster; no near-collisions.

February 20 – 1 x circuit of Hyde Park on a Boris bike (25min).

February 21 – 4.2km on treadmill at lunchtime (25min).

February 22 – 1hr horse ride and a 20min walk. Does lots of vacuuming count?

February 23 – Zero! But a bit of stretching.

February 24 – 1hr fast walk.

February 25 – 45min fast walk and 30min run outdoors.

I’m aiming for more of the same over the next days. And while it’s hardly transforming me into a Middletonesque langlauf machine, hopefully it’ll be enough to make the race a bearable (at worst) or brilliant (at best) four-ish hours. Wish me luck!

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Filed under Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Racing, Switzerland

14/2/12 – At last! I am in a movie!

A few months ago I went to see Flow State, a ski film, at a London cinema. Instead of trailers there were adverts or shorts supplied by the evening’s sponsors, which included Lake Tahoe, Skiset, Nissan and the Ski Club of Great Britain.

A film made by the Ski Club started rolling, and my companion, Kirstin, and I were smiling as we watched the turquoise-jacketed leaders, of which I am one, cruising around the mountain under blue skies with their… ahem… obedient, orderly, happy and very expert-looking band of British followers.

Our smiles froze when, suddenly, both of us appeared, looming in giant form over the darkened auditorium. I wish I could say we were wedeling, goddess-like, in feathery powder, but in fact we were in a distinctly un-Alpine setting.

Kirstin and Emma, the evening we caught the Ski Club cameraman's eye

Kirstin and Emma, the evening we caught the Ski Club cameraman’s eye

A couple of years before we had been videoed, together with a third friend, Emma, at the club’s summer party, knocking back the free early-evening glass of fizz.

The party was at the Hurlingham Club, a somewhat grander “white house” than Ski Club HQ in Wimbledon.

We were on screen for three seconds at the most, but it felt like a full minute as Kirstin and I sank into our seats, cringing.

Anyway, having got over the shock I wanted to have another look, so I made a quick search on Youtube. I couldn’t find it, but Kirstin made a more diligent search recently and tracked it down, under the catchline “Why join the Ski Club?”

It has had a mere 51 views as I write, which is similar to the average attracted by the far less consequential and decidedly unprofessional films I have put on Youtube (see here; my most popular by far, by the way, is of the Trofana Alm apres-ski bar at Ischgl).

As the people at the White House have gone to such trouble to put the film together, and were so nice as to think me and friends worth including, shall we try to up its view count?

You can see it here (we appear after about a minute).

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Filed under Food and drink, Link to film, Off-piste

1/2/13 – Can anybody beat this loo-with-a-view?

Snowy Schladming in mid-January

Snowy Schladming in mid-January

On Monday the World Alpine Skiing Championships begin in Schladming, Austria.

I spent a long weekend at the Austrian resort a few weeks ago, and you can read how impressed I was with the place in the Daily Telegraph travel section next weekend (or online, here).

This comfort stop is clearly signed

This comfort stop is clearly signed

As well as great, tree-lined ski runs, an attractive town square, half a dozen dirndl shops, the largest apres-ski bar in Europe (they claim – and Hohenhaus Tenne is indeed huge – pictures in a future blog) and unbelievably cheap and tasty food in giant portions, Schladming has fantastic places to “go”.

A very public loo

A very public lavatory

To the loo.

On the mountain.

At the junction of two chair-lift top stations on Planai (read the Telegraph piece to see which ones), the mountain where the racing takes place, is a white, green and yellow cabin marked “Sky Toilet”.

Here are the instructions that come with the loo

Here are the instructions that come with the loo

In the ladies’ , I found one cubicle with a wall of glass, one-way viewing, of course, overlooking the  ascending chairs at close quarters and the piste.

Plastered to the other walls and ceiling is local mountain scenery, completing the picture. The second cubicle is  totally wallpapered.

This is the view from where I was sitting

This is the view from where I was sitting

Of course it was all beautifully heated, with plenty of room to put your gloves and a hook to hang your rucksack or coat.

There were similar good loos elsewhere in Schladming – easily up to the standard of Aspen, where the mountain loos are very practical.

Spot the door in the Planet Planai ladies'

Spot the door in the Planet Planai ladies’

In Planet Planai, the new base station, there’s more good wallpaper, plus a powder scene across all the doors in the ladies’.

In Hohenhaus Tenne, on the way out, there’s a sort of chalet willage of lavatories, comoplete with a rustic water fountain in the middle.

Step inside the chalet to 'go'

Step inside the chalet to ‘go’

Please advise if you know of other mountain loo stops that are as beautiful and useful as these, and I will make an effort to make use of them one day…

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Filed under Austria, Food and drink, Racing