Mike Hall’s Engadin Ski Marathon – March 2019

I have been dabbling with cross country skiing for some years now and have had a go at most of our free heel skiing disciplines.  More recently I have been contemplating a Nordic ski race.  My former employer (Architect- Sir Norman Foster) takes part in the Engedin marathon most years.  I am nearly thirty years his junior and, if he can do it, so can I! 

I signed up with Totally Nordic, run by Alan Eason, for the short race week culminating in the main 42km event on the Sunday, the biggest race in Europe.  Despite upping my roller-skiing in preparation, my first day on snow was pretty shabby.  I couldn’t believe how bad my technique seemed and I was wasting so much energy.  Alan Eason somehow disassembled my skiing technique and reassembled it in 3 days – No mean feat!  

Come the race day itself there was much hype and chat and the obligatory early breakfast before catching the buses to the start – a bit like the Great North Run on snow.

The first 10km is dead flat across a lake with icy conditions (very telling if you don’t plant your ski correctly).  Mattress alley down through the trees predictably notched up numerous casualties.  The route takes in the centre of some lovely villages and there is a great atmosphere along the way with suitably placed food and drink stops.  By the end I was feeling surprisingly good and felt my technique was strangely still improving through the race. 

It was great to make the finish line in what was a fantastic experience. Having checked the finishing times I found I had beaten Norman by ten minutes – but he is 84!  I expect to return another year and will be trying hard to beat my 3hr 45 finishing time.

Mike Hall