The Silitch Family

Adventures in the Alps and Beyond

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tour of the Berner Oberland

Grüezi! Tales from the trails of the Bernese Oberland coming soon! In the meantime, here are a couple photo albums to give just a taste of the amazing journey from Lauenen to Wengen.

If you are crazy about flowers like me, you will enjoy this album. I am still working on identifying the common English names, as well as the latin, and French. The German will have to wait.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nina-2nd Place: Gran Trail Valdigne

A few photos from the: Grand Trail Valdigne in Aosta valley on Saturday July 10th, not too far from my home in Chamonix. I have always wanted to do this race, but normally am not around in July. It is always fun to race in Italy. You are assured a great cappuccino- great pasta and of course limoncello. This was about one of the most memorable trail races I have done and by far my best result yet. The total distance was 41km and 3100 m of climbing (elevation gain). It was super technical, and varied terrain, all of which I love. Needless to say I expected to be out there for around 7 hrs and rolled in about 7:15 placing 2nd overall for the women and 14th overall for men and women with the men's finishing time just an hour before.

The race started at 10am, not sure why so late, maybe the Italians like to have their late espresso. It was hot already, pushing 85 degrees (25c) and climbing. Humid too.

We started in the village of Morgex with the runners for the big race (87km). The first climb was a monster. 2000 meters and climbed up to snow!

The course then rolled a bit and then climbed up another technical steep couloir- quite impressive and reminded me of boot packs in ski mountaineering. I thought we were done climbing but my altimeter said, no- there's more and there sure was, some more rolling up and down, followed by another big one that followed a beautiful high crest, again very similar to some of the technical ridges in ski alpinisme. Super fun to scramble over rocks on the arrete looking down to the valley below.

After that, it was a good 10km of downhill and this is where the fun began. I was testing a pair of Hoka Mafate's and really flew.
I managed to pass the women in I could see the dark thundercloud approaching and it did not hit til I was down in the forests of the larch trees. The terrain on the Italian side of Mt Blanc is much drier, with beautiful pine and larch forests.
The rain hit hard and it was refreshing in the 90 degree heat. Rain, thunder, lightening and even hail stones! There were times when I was running through ankle and calf deep rushing rivers. It was not until the rain started that my fucsia pink mini shuffle died. Sigh... I had about 1 hr left of running, but Lady Gaga and a few others did a great job of keeping me going for the 6 hours prior! Grazie for the tunes! Love to run with them. And Bravo to my friends of the CMBM club who did a great race, both the small and big.

If you are thinking of racing in Italy, don't hesitate! You will love it!

Below a slide show from the race:

More tales from the trails to coming soon! Next stop Hiking in the Berner Oberland!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cross and Marathon du Mt Blanc

The Cross and Marathon du Mont Blanc weekend, is always a big one in Chamonix. This year, the weekend of June 26/27th, the Cross brought over 1300 runners and the marathon over 2300 runners! The weekend was superbly organized by the Chamonix Club des Sports and all their volunteers including my local running club CMBM. Hard to believe that so many folks want to put themselves through such a challenge! Having said that, I signed up for the challenge of Cross this year, the shorter of the 2 races with 23km and 1454 meters of elevation gain.

The start of the Cross

While running, I took a moment to look around, which I don't always do while racing, and hands down, it has to be one of the most beautiful running courses out there with the back drop of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Aiguilles. Stunningly beautiful really!

Taking a minute to look around

It was great to see my CMBM friends at the Flegere aid station. I grabbed a coke and headed onto Brevent with a little left in my legs to the finish. With not too many expectations, other than a goal to finish under 3 hrs, I managed to come in at 2:45 which put me in 11th overall for the women out of 379 women total.

The finish of the Cross and Marathon at Planpraz

I was not the only one in the family racing. While my start gun went off at 8:30 am, my two boys were getting ready for their race- The Mini Cross which went off at 10:30. Anders was keen to run as his pal Ethan. And Birken had some pals from school running as well. They did great, finishing their 800 meters around the parapente field and into the woods and proudly wore their finishing metals.

Anders and Ethan at the Finish

It was hot, real hot and it only got hotter the next day for the marathon runners. I was a volunteer at the Vallorcine aid station. It was great to be on the other side, seeing how much really does go into an aid station: We were there hours early cutting up fruit, salami, granola bars and lugging water and coke bottles. It is quite a rush when the runners come through and impressive to see all the types, young and old, tall and short passing through at all times.
The timing was done by Live Trail which also does the timing for the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc races, Trail Verbier-St Bernard and also Trail des Aiguilles Rouges. It is an impressive service as you can follow any runner on the web and see where they are and what check point they have gone through.

Preparing the aid station -Vallorcine

So if you are looking for a trail race to do think about the Cross or Marathon du Mont Blanc next year, but sign up early as the entries fill up fast.

Don't Forget your SportLegs