Wow, what a start to the summer season: 450km's / 14,250m of Ascent and Descent That's my training log and 'office diary' for the past five weeks! Some people's idea of hell maybe, but for a keen trail runner and mountain leader I guess you could say it's 'living the dream'. I'm lucky to be able to say that everyday the view from my office changes.
Following our spring break with friends and family in the UK's Peak District (where I love getting my running legs back!) I began my guiding summer in Slovenia's Julian Alps. For a small country, and one of Europe's newest nation states, Slovenia has plenty to offer for both active and more leisurely holidays. Joining me were a group of twelve women, all keen Nordic walkers, on a bespoke holiday arranged by Samantha Armstrong, of Core Concept personal training.
With the help of local mountain guide Klemen Gricar our tour began at the country's capital of Llublijana for shopping, a traditional meal and cultural tour followed by three very different walks exploring the Karavanke Alps along the Austrian border and mountains and lakes Bled and Bohinj in the Triglav National Park. Klemen, like most Slovenians, is very proud of his country's history and cultural background. I enjoyed a few days prior to the group's arrival 'run reccing' numerous walks to add to my repertoire to find the 'Perfect 3'!
Next up, I can certainly say I was 'living the cream' on a week long trail running camp based in La Clusaz in the Aravis region of the French Alps. Staying in a gorgeous luxury chalet my job here, as with our Chamonix camps, is to offer a week of guided mountain running with specific training session in the art of trail running. As we ticked off the kilometres and soaked up the sun we explored the area's peaks, plateaus, lakeside trails and single track - certainly earning our subsequent Lake Annecy swims and ice cream!
Still in the French Aravis, my next 'job' was working with Olympian marathon runner Liz Yelling. Each year Liz hosts a unique, advanced running camp retreat. I joined to guide and advise on the trail running aspects. Liz is fun, inspiring and a true professional to work with. Using her vast knowledge, genuine enthusiasm and understanding of the sport together we help runners achieve their goals and find their running limits and future goals.
Rapidly becoming known as a world class trail running venue, the 27 to the 29th of June saw Chamonix host the Sky Running World Championships. World class trail athletes such as Kilian Jornet, Anna Frost, Emilie Forsberg (to name just a few from the Salomon team) could be spotted about the valley preparing to race the Mont Blanc Marathon courses. In conjunction with this marathon festival each year I run a Tracks and Trails Running Camp where all abilities can be a part of the running buzz!
We train in the mountains, track and gym, meeting like minded runners to become gurus of the trails! Our runners stayed in the well located Runners Refuge enjoying superb healthy cooking and stunning views of Mont Blanc. I had a fabulous week guiding the trails in what has become my back yard, whilst also working with ultra runners and professionals Rebecca Dent, a performance nutritionist and clinical dietitian and physio Neil Maclean-Martin (both of whom work with Olympic athletes). We shared our insights and learned a great deal from one another!
Completing my running log this month was certainly no cool down - as I was joined by the newly selected 2014 Berghaus Trail Team. My brief: to offer a trail running camp around Chamonix and provide coaching, guidance and a trail route of up to 100km over three days. Sponsored for a year with kit, food and clothing by Berghaus, Torq Nutrition and LED Lenser the Trail Team are 6 non-elite trail runners carefully selected to be given the opportunity to enjoy some of the benefits usually reserved for professionals.
On Day 1 the Trail Team were also joined by local Berghaus athletes Anna and Philip Gatta for an introduction to the Chamonix valley and perfect acclimatisation run, where we ticked off the Chamonix half-marathon course plus a little bit more! Then for days two and three we began on the Italian side of Mont Blanc in Courmayeur, where we ran 60km of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc's CCC® course from Italy to Switzerland over the Grand Col Ferret (2532m) with an over night stop in the mountain refuge of La Peule.
Fuelled by French croissants, Italian coffee, Swiss cheese, Torq energy and a real passion for the mountains, the Trail Team completed an amazing 92km in three days with over 4,500m of climbing (and descending!).