Guess what? I have something in common with Pippa Middleton (who, funnily enough, has been mentioned briefly in this blog before – ‘Peeeepah’, the hot topic in the Bernese Oberland). She and I have been preparing for a very long cross-country race – separately, I must add.
Hers? The Vasaloppet in Sweden. Participants – 15,800; distance – 90km; date – Sunday, 4 March; first running – 1922. Recently she was photographed training in Gstaad.
Mine? The Engadine Marathon in Switzerland. Participants – about 12,000; distance – 42km; date – Sunday, 11 March; first running – 1969. There’s no photographic evidence, but I promise I did some training (well, an enjoyable hour, in half a foot of powder) during a recent trip to Aspen.
So the race Pippa is doing (along with her brother, James) is considerably longer, older and larger than mine. It’s also less well known – but not for much longer, and it makes me smile to hear how excited the organisers sound about their royally connected arrivals.
“It is now confirmed. We have been contacted by a person close to them who has asked us if we could arrange this,” Per Strid, information manager for Vasaloppet, said. “It’s really fantastic that such well known people will take part; it shows that our arrangements attract not only the most renowned skiers in the world but some of the most famous personalities in the world as well!” [Their exclamation mark, not mine – full article here.]
To me, from the pictures in Blick, it looks as though Pippa is practising skating-style in Gstaad. But I don’t think she can be, because from the Vasaloppet website, it looks as though it’s compulsory to do the race classic-style.
I’m no expert (I do a meagre 6km cross-country race whenever I go to the Inferno and that’s about it – and I never get much faster), but I hope her poles are long enough – I was advised in Aspen that they’re meant to come up to somewhere between your chin and nose and I think hers (on the right of picture 4 in Blick) only reach her shoulder.
I’ll let you into a secret, though. I’ve had to bottle out. While exercising not-very-furiously 10 days ago, I tripped over a grassy tussock and crashed onto my shoulder. There’s no break, but just enough damage that I won’t be propelling myself across frozen lakes and wooded valleys after all. I’m still going along, mind you, to cheer on my energetic boyfriend and see what I’m missing.
Meanwhile I’ll be thinking of Pippa and James this Sunday – and hoping they are super-extra-mega-fit. Langlaufing feels great once you get into a rhythm, but 90km is a ludicrously long way and I’ll be seriously impressed if they cross the finish line.
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