"Last September I was looking for a trail running holiday and came across Tracks & Trails’ week-long Alpine Trail Running Camp. I booked and headed to Chamonix - little did I realise what it would lead to...!
The Camp, for all levels of runner wanting an introduction to mountain trail running, covered a lot - from orienteering, speed hiking a climb on the world famous Mont Blanc Marathon route and other mountain runs practising technical trail technique, to running form instruction and heart-rate monitoring. Coupled with accommodation in a lovely chalet close to town with a hot-tub looking to the mountains (perfect for
relaxing tired legs!), it was an excellent week I really recommend.
Now I'd heard of the Mont Blanc Marathon (a tough 42km mountain marathon with 2,800m ascent / 1,700m descent), but the Camp inspired me to try it - I got lucky in the ballot for 2016 and faced the task of getting myself ready to join the 2,200 odd runners at the start in nine months' time!
The discussion on Camp about building training plans came in very handy and I made one. Sticking to it and setting myself some intermediate race goals to keep focused (including a cross-country ski marathon, instruction for which again thanks to Tracks & Trails!), I completed the 2016 Mont Blanc Marathon in a very satisfying 7 hrs 12!
For all you runners, it's definitely one for the list - an incredible race through some stunning mountain trails and an amazing atmosphere
(notwithstanding some lads at about 6km in, brandishing bottles of beer, their van stereo pumping out "Highway to Hell"...)!
If you've never been mountain trail running before, don’t worry - book one of Tracks & Trails' running weeks as they will certainly get you hooked and who knows what you'll be signing up for next...! Thank you Tracks and Trails"
Whilst Lindsay traverses the Chablais on snowshoes with members of the Austrian Alpine Club I am based in Chamonix running our last Mont Blanc Snowshoe week of the season. Last week we experienced litterally buckets of fresh snow making the roads a nightmare but the skiing & snowshoeing excellent! This week we are having 'mixed' conditions - from blue skies and sunshine to fresh 'atmospheric' dustings of fresh snow. But in general the weather's definately calmed down alot. On our Mt. Blanc snowshoe week we head to various locations to enjoy the views and differing cultures of the region. On Tuesday we made use of the good weather and headed over to the Swiss/Italian border to the Grand St. Bernard pass and monastry (or hospice) where we spent the night. We started our walk at 1927m and made our way to this historic location at an altitude of 2472m. The hospice sits high on the mountain pass and is circled by mountains whose highest peaks are Mt. Blanc and the Grand Combin. Good weather is not common due to the pass being the meeting point of so many peaks. We were in luck this week what with a window of good weather making our trip away unforgetable as the views were amazing.
Our 2009 Alpine Trail Running camp took place in Chamonix last week. This annual event ties in with the Mont Blanc 10k, half and full marathon events – so if at the end of the week if you’d like a challenge it’s there with all the support you could ever imagine! Our runners all had different running backgrounds and ambitions which meant there was a lot of experience and stories to share.
Based in a luxury Yeti Lodge chalet our runners were able to enjoy a daily run along mountain trails, amongst pine trees and meadows, visit high villages with inspiring views around every corner – not to mention benefitting from fresh mountain air in their lungs! On our return we’d enjoy lunch, sunshine and hot tub all under the eyes of Mont Blanc!
One of the weeks highlights were the excellent tips and advice from World Champion runner, Lizzy Hawker who also gave a very inspiring talk of her worldwide running tales.
To round the week off several of our runners took part in the various races in Chamonix at the weekend with podium results! Sue Smith got 3rd in her category at her first ever mountain half marathon, Mara Larson scooped up two prizes with 3rd overall female and also 1st in her age category, and Janet Lefton completed the full marathon in an excellent time of 7h30 giving her the points required for the full Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in 2010.
So what will your 2010 challenge be? To find out more about our running week check out the feature by journalist and runner Antonia Kanczula who joined us last week in the September issue of Health & Fitness Magazine.
Last week saw the successful completion of the 3rd ever Mont Blanc Snowshoe week, led by Tracks and Trails in association with KE Adventure Travel. So what makes a trip a success? Well, for me, it's a combination of several factors. For this week, in particular, the group dynamics has to rate highly on the list - a group of 5, 2 guys/3 girls - all with different and interesting careers, lifestyles, interests and different walking CV's and Rob Wymer, an Aspirant International Mountain Leader, out gaining snowshoe experience with groups in preparation for his leader assessment. Our common denominator - walking in the mountains in winter!
Secondly, as mentioned so many times on our blog to date, the SNOW! Snowshoeing does happen to work very well in snow, not to mention fresh powder and boy did we get our fare share. After our first day up at Chalet Loriaz we had continuous snow for 3 days - which was a perfect opportunity for everyone to have the chance to break trail, learn about essential avalanche safety, route choices and staying safe by reading and assessing the terrain on route. Then following the snowy days we had some blue sky days....all in a weeks work - it's a hard job to beat!
I would also like to mention, which was voted by our team as the best day of the week, our summit of Mont Arpille at 2085m which is actually on Swiss turf. And if that wasn't enough for one day it was followed by a (voluntary....) night-snowshoe to the rustic Savoyard restaurant and Auberge of La Boerne at the hamlet of Tre le Champs where we refueled with 'tarteflette', a local dish made with creamy Reblochon cheese! So if this type of week appeals to you we still have places on our March - Mont Blanc Snowshoe Week.