September 27, 2017

The Haute Route Ski Tour – possibly the hardest thing I have ever done

There is a phrase in the UK, ‘being fit as a butcher’s dog’. I have no idea where it comes from but at the end of the seven days of doing the Haute Route I reckon I’m that dog!

Skiing and Ski touring

The Haute Route isn’t a run and I didn’t walk it (although you can in the summer) so why am I writing about it? Mainly because I did it, it is an enormous feat, in my opinion, and is amazing training for anything you are doing whether it be running or walking.

The Haute Route is a route that takes you from Chamonix, France, to Zermatt, Switzerland, via the mountains. It covers approximately 120km to 140km of alpine terrain and you scale mountains, glaciers and cols via a mixture of skinning (walking on skis with sticky stuff attached), mountaineering with crampons and skiing (although there is far less down than up).  Pictures do this more justice than I can possibly explain. I would describe this as an endurance week and not something to be taken lightly; the first two days consisted of 12 hours of sheer slog and they ‘eased’ to 6 to 8 hours later in the week. It’s painful, there was plenty of blood, sweat, tears, altitude sickness, blisters and coughing and spluttering but the elation when you finish is second to none.

There are no luxuries on this expedition; you stay in huts up the mountains with no running water and you sleep between 8 and 40 to a dorm; bring earplugs! The food is hearty and plentiful and you need it. This is one of the few times I have eaten exactly what I wanted and still needed more. [Read more...]

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney Olympic ParkNow you don’t need to be Cathy Freeman to run at Sydney Olympic Park but it definitely inspires you knowing she won gold here. I’m convinced I was quicker than normal!

Sydney Olympic Park is based in Homebush, about 15km from Sydney CBD, and a short train ride away. It’s a great place to visit to get site of the stadiums and sporting grandeur of Australia. There are some fantastic runs, walks and bike paths around the park and you take in the stadiums, bushland and parks. It’s very flat with the odd, very small, hill so you feel fast and a little bit like Cathy…perhaps.

I ran a mixture of the Olympic Circuit and Parklands Circuit so approximately 11km in total. I started near the hotels on Olympic Boulevard and headed north to the park; then ran towards Wentworth Park and cut in to Badu Mangroves. This part of the run is beautiful and quite remote but beware depending on the time of day you run. I ran at dusk and paid the price after being eaten alive by the local mosquito population.

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The Huts Walk, Mount Hotham

Huts WalkOne of our favourite walks is the Huts Walk in the alpine ranges around Mount Hotham. This is a fantastic 21km walk to undertake on a beautiful sunny day (definitely don’t try this in the snow!).

The walk circumnavigates many of the ski fields in Hotham and visits some of the historic huts so, along with pushing your fitness, it also enables you to take in some of the history of the area.

The walk starts from the Loch Car Park just outside of the main Hotham village. Walk along the Great Alpine Road until you drop in to the ranges at the Davenport Access Track. It’s well worth taking the detour to visit the Silver Brumby hut near the Blue Ribbon chair, a great example of a mountain hut.

The walk generally is undulating but the 1.4km up to Spargo’s hut really gets the heart racing and you get some great views. Walk from the river in the valley floor right up to the peak. If you’re a keen skier you’ll be very familiar with the Orchard and Gotcha lifts so it’s great to see these as you wander by.

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