Tag Archives: Pippa Middleton

16/3/13 – Engadine marathon 2013: the verdict

Engadine marathon - making for the starting pens on the lake at Maloja

Making for the starting pens on the lake at Maloja

Aches and pains? Huffing and puffing?

Well, up to a point.You can read more about what it was like to be a first-timer in the largest ski race in the Alps in my Telegraph and Planet Ski articles.

But last Sunday I had a surprise: the Engadine marathon was fun, satisfying and not as exhausting as I’d predicted.

They arrived in matching pairs...

They arrived in matching pairs…

Along with 11,312 of  the 12,540 starters, from elite athletes to flailing novices, aged 16 to mid-eighties, I finished the 26-mile course.

It followed the snow-clad frozen lakes and wooded paths of the far eastern corner of Switzerland, in the Graubunden canon.

...they arrived in matching groups

…they arrived in matching groups

If you’ve seen it in the papers lately it’s mainly because Pippa and James Middleton – the siblings of Kate Middleton, Prince William’s wife, in case you live on another planet – were taking part.

Pippa was the fastest British girl at 2hr48 and her brother, James, took 2hr17.

And there was even a Brit in tweeds and a Jimmy hat

And there was even a Brit in rather fetching tweeds and a Jimmy hat

The fastest Brit, Alan Eason, clocked an impressive 1hr41.

The overall female winner, a Finn in her mid-thirties, glid round in 1hr29, setting a women’s course record on her first Engadine outing.

Which ones are mine again?

Which ones are mine again?

She was only a minute behind the male winner, a 23-year-old Frenchman, while the slowest racers took six hours.

I was overjoyed with my time of 3hr30 (as a first-timer of questionable fitness, four hours had been my target).

Engadine marathon start

And we’re off. You can see the classic style racers on the right, following the grooves

Anyway, here’s the full list of results.

After clicking on Results 2013, you can view them by class (which corresponds to age and gender), or by nationality.

Something especially impressive is that there were 223 finishers in the men’s over-70s category – and the oldest racer was born in 1926. This is a sport for everyone.

A few miles before Pontresina, where there are bottlenecks by the hills

This is me a few miles before Pontresina, where there are bottlenecks by the hills

Here’s another link some readers may find entertaining.

The super-efficient organisers have posted videos of – seemingly – almost every finisher crossing the line.

Simply find a person on the results list you want to watch, look up their start number (eighth column from the left), input it or their name into the field on the right of the screen and there they are. 

This is what was needed afterwards

This is what was needed afterwards – cakes from Kochendorfer Conditorei in Pontresina

Here are some numbers to try – though with the first few it’s hard to tell which is which as they’re going so fast:

Pierre Guedon (the male winner, from France) – 317

Riita-Liisa Ropenen (the female winner, from Finland) – 9

Alan Eason (the fastest Brit – I can’t identify him, but you get an idea of the speed) – 1079

Pippa in the middle: the Middletons and friends at the finish

Pippa in the middle: the Middletons and friends at the finish

Christian Wenk (a paraplegic who completed the race in a sitski) – 4191

Pippa Middleton (in red and black; photographer close by) – 4606

James Middleton (in black, I think, with red headband, skating past camera) – 41847

Me (in pink and black; the knackered-looking one making straight for the camera) – 5807

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Filed under Food and drink, Gear, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Link to film, Music, Racing, Switzerland, Transport

29/2/12 – I hope Pippa Middleton’s ski poles are the right length

Camilla Janssen warms up for the Inferno 6km langlauf race - Pippa's race will be 15 times longer

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.

I advise Pippa and James against see-through outfits such as this one

“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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Filed under Racing, Switzerland

5/5/11 – ‘Peeeepah’: the hot topic in the Bernese Oberland

Even though it’s May, I’ve been skiing today. Or rather, walking uphill on skis, and making the occasional downhill slide. If you’ve read previous posts – such as this https://morethanskiing.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/23311-from-alagna-to-zinal-on-skins/ – you’ll know I love ski touring – an ever more popular activity in the Alps, both among locals and and the likes of Brits.

Out of the tunnel, onto the mountaintops

This time, I’m joining a Swiss group assembled by an old Anzere Ski School friend of mine, Caroline Ogi, who now runs the excellent Hotel Walliserhof in Zermatt. Among the group of 12 are a hairdresser, a railway station manager, a chef, a ski shop owner and several colleagues from Switzerland’s very well organised tourist board. Our mountain guides are Fred, a handsome Valaisan, whose fighting cows are headed for stardom in the upcoming Combats des Reines, and a kindly, bearded, Nendaz-based Belgian who goes by the reassuringly Alpine name of Helmuth. Our destination: the huge glaciers that spread out across the Bernese Oberland, behind the Eiger.

Last time I toured with Caroline & friends we were weathered off the Haute Route and spent three days stuck in Arolla. This weekend, by contrast, is forecast to be sweltering and sunny. I’ve packed as lightly as possible, leaving behind quite a few items compared to last time (https://morethanskiing.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/6411-packing-for-hut-to-hut-touring/). Last night I stayed in a dorm room at a backpackers’ hostel in Basel (32 Swiss francs) after flying in late from Gatwick. (Since I’m sleeping alongside a dozen people for the next three nights it didn’t seem worth booking my own room on the way.)

Tikka at the top: sadly it wasn't quite lunchtime

Hundreds of Asian tourists accompanied us to our starting point this morning at Europe’s highest railway station, the Jungfraujoch (3,454m). While they made for the Bollywood curry house on the first floor, we skated off down the Jungfrau glacier to the Konkordiaplatz, where the ice beneath the Aletsch glacier is said to be up to 900m deep, then hung a left to climb to the Gruenhornluecke (a col on the way to tonight’s hut).

To my surprise, at our picnic break, chat revolved around the Royal Wedding. Most of all, the Swissies were interested in “Peeeepah”. Getting Suisse Romande and Schwyzerduetsch speakers to pronounce Pippa correctly – which was their chief preoccupation – is quite a challenge.

Guide Helmuth and punter Pierre-Cedric during today's first gentle climb

Talk was also of the acclaimed Swiss mountain guide Erhard Loretan, who died on his 52nd birthday a week ago. Loretan was one of only four climbers to have summited all the world’s 14 peaks that exceed 8,000m. This afternoon we passed the Gruenhorn (which is just over 4,000m), where he fell while leading a client a week ago (read his obituary here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/sport-obituaries/8484065/Erhard-Loretan.html).

View from the Finsteraarhornhuette

The Finsteraarhornhuette, which we reached at 5pm, has large individual bunks, impressive indoor loos and sensational views from its terrace. No wonder 98 of its 106 beds are taken tonight. Loretan stayed here the night before his fall: I hope the last night of his amazing life was a peaceful and comfy one.

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Filed under Off-piste, Ski touring, Switzerland