It's great to get the chance to explore new areas and after weeks of pouring over maps and guidebooks we have put together two new trips. One is going to be based in the village of Nevache, near Briancon and it looks fabulous. Nevache actually means 'snowy land' and it seems it's already living up to it's reputation with lots of snow in valley already this winter.
Great news for Scott as this months Trail Running magazine have given their trail shoe the eRide grip the thumbs up. Scott were up against well known brands such as Salomon, inov8 and Asics with their winter trail shoe. 20 different shoes were on test and the eRide won the review over all. The December '12 article confirmed our thoughts of the shoes being 'comfy to wear straight from the box' and ideal for a variety of terrain from road to rock and over long distances. With fresh snow fall today (and more on the way) in the Alps I am looking forward to putting the Scott 'Ice Runners' to test. A shiny parcel is winging it's way to me as I type! So the snow won't stop me from running this winter.
Just back from a three week trip into Sikkim in the Indian Himalayas where I was guiding for our friends at KE Adventure Travel. A trek that finished in the shadow of Kangchenjunga the third highest mountain in the world after Everest and K2. A truly remote and wonderful experience in an unspoilt area.
An amusing and refreshing article reviewing the delights of skate skiing from Fall-Line Skiing and Snowboarding magazine. Travel journalist, Eric Kendal, took to skinny skis in the Swiss Obergoms(the location for one of our beginner ski weeks) for a lesson in 'skating'. Let it amuse, inspire and enlighten your thoughts on cross country skiing! www.fall-line.co.uk
Journalist, Katy Dartford, reviews our weekend Trail Running Camp.
I’ve recently returned from a weekend trail running camp in the French Alps and had a truly awesome and inspiring time. I never realised there was so much technique involved in off road running, although I’ve always struggled steadying my down hills- almost as much as up hills…so what better place to learn than in Chamonix, with a glorious view of Mont Blanc to keep me motivated.
How kit can rekindle your sport!
It's certainly a 'perk' of the job receiving kit to try and test and I can now say that my running 'goody bag' from Scott has now been well and truly tested! This summer I met up with Rhys Henderson of Scott Sports where we went over some of the Scott running clothes and footwear. The Scott running range is fairly new on the market and now is the time for them to perfect their products with a variety or views and opinions. Rhys left me with clothing and versions of both their road and trail shoes.
Road Shoe Test - MK4
I've now had both the MK3 and MK4 women's road shoe, the MK4 eRide being their newest model. Due to my work and home both being in the mountains I have to admit that I am far less a road runner these days however I have been taking the MK4's with me to run in the evenings when I am based in towns or villages with access to easy park trails, pavements and tarmac. (Things we don't have in my village!). And so far my results have not just been positive about the shoes but the change in routine has also rekindled my love for the flats!
As we know, looks aren't everything but they help(!) and the MK4 comes in some fun bright colours (currently a cool bluey/turqouise and pink) but is designed with a technical look which still allows the funky colour scheme to not detract from it being a shoe for serious runners. The sizing is the same as my Brooks or Asics shoes and fitted comfortably on my first outing. The upper is made with Scott’s 'Ergologic Fit construction' - this basically means it fits snugly because it's fully adjustable, maximizing comfort. I found that the MK4's certainly pulls into a close fit but puckers slightly across the width - although this doesn't effect the comfort of the shoe. Next thing, is it's noticeably lighter than other road shoes I've had in the past. I used to think that to have a light road shoe meant a out an out road/race shoe which would then mean you were compromising on support. But the MK4 is made with a low profile AeroFoam midsole and is around 25% lighter than traditional EVA foams. For those that require more medial support Scott now have their MK4+ which again would normally mean a heavier shoe but the Aerofoam means this model is one of the lightest lightweight stability trainers on the market.
But the reason my love for the flats has been 'rekindled' I think has been due to the Scott 'rocker' idea. So this is the science bit... Scott have developed a unique rocker shape in their shoes which creates a very stable 'midstance'....this 'rocking' action encourages you to literally rock from one step to the next, providing you with a naturally faster and more efficient running gait - a miracle cure to shave time off your next PB perhaps!? On the flats I must admit I do 'feel' faster and the natural 'midfoot' strike of the rocker seems to promote a more upright body position and certainly feel nice to run in! The rocker is what Scott call their eRide Technology which features in all of their shoes. As a trail runner my renewed enthusiasm for speed work on the flat has been a positive boost to my off road running again. Reminding me of the importance to cross train, not just between different sports but also within the same sport - road and trail.
So what with ticks for colour, comfort, added speed and enjoyment on the flats the MK4 certainly gets my seal of approval.
Trail Shoe Test - eRide Grip 2
Next up, the women's eRideGrip 2 which is Scott's trail shoe. Unsure of my exact sizing for this model Rhys sent two pairs of different sizes which arrived in the post the day I began working on our September Trail Tunning Camp. As soon as they were out of the box they were on my feet and heading to meet our group for their first test run! That week we ran on all terrains and a variety of distances. We ran easy to steep technical trails, through mud and wet grass, over boulder fields and pine woods and on a mix of limestone and granite rock trails and the Grip2 certainly passed all the tests for traction and grip. As the Grip2 also has the Scott 'eRide' technology too it also means that when you hit the flats you still feel that rocking action and enhanced gait. The 'low profile' fit of the shoe is also really noticeable on technical descents providing a really stable platform to strike from. This coupled with the good traction gives you plenty of confidence to really 'push it' on the down hills! I also really like the idea of the 'drainage' holes that feature on the Grip 2 - for extracting water from those soggy winter runs!
WHY TRAIN FOR A WALKING HOLIDAY?
It’s just a long walk, right? Not a race! So why train?
Alpine walking holidays offer unbeatable views and memories but it should not be under estimated as to how challenging it can be on the body. The fitter you are the more likely you’ll enjoy every step of your holiday, and it's more likely you are to complete each day in good time with ease. The aim of adding some training in before your trip to the Alps is it will ensure that each day on trail is well within your comfort zone – ie easy! – rather than a struggle. Trekking, especially multiday journeys at higher altitudes, shouldn't be under taken lightly. Our walks are always broken down into manageable chunks according to the stated itinerary. We ensure you will have plenty of opportunity to rest, eat and drink but we do need to get from A-B each day and is often not just a gentle walk! Getting to your accommodation at the end of each day with plenty of time to relax and with plenty of energy left in reserve will ensure that you have time to recover, dry your kit (if necessary!), eat and rehydrate well – ready for the next day.
Over the next few weeks I will join mountain guide, Kenton Cool, with a group trekking to Everest Basecamp from the south side. Kenton is a British climber and UIAGM mountain guide who has summited Everest (locally known as Sagarmartha) nine times and this trip he will attempt double figures. Our team have been training and fundraising for over 18 months now. Our journey with the group starts this weekend (1 April 2012) where we will meet in Kathmandu. A short but 'interesting' flight will take us to Lukla, 2650m and the start of our trail. We then take two weeks to walk steadily and gradually gaining height along the Khumbu Valley, through traditional villages, farming communities, across high cable bridge and where the only traffic are large woolly yaks transporting goods. The local people are so welcoming and friendly matched with unbeatable views. We will be staying in 'tea houses' which are family run mountain refuges which over the years are becoming pretty much like small hotels! It takes the unacclimatised over a week to trek in on good paths. Highlights include the colourful Sherpa Capital Namche Bazaar, 3400m which has busy cobbled streets, interesting shops and hosts a Tibetan market surrounded by breath taking panoramic views. On route we also climb to the famous Thyangboche Monastery, where we can soak up the history of the Lamas, which houses beautiful wall hangings, ornate carvings and a giant Buddha!
Have you ever been put off heading out for a run because of the snow or ice underfoot? Some of us still want to get our running fix come snow, rain or shine.
The winter so far in the Alps has been amazing, bringing all of the above. On those very snowy days when the ski pistes are a white out we've still enjoyed getting out on snowshoes, cross country skis and running. We are really lucky to be able to get out and exercise most days - but in my week I still want to keep my running going so that my body doesn't get a complete shock in Spring when the snow starts to clear.