SKI MARATHON CALENDAR: 2012-13
|Above: Engadin Skimarathon, SWI|
There are plenty of ski marathons to have a go at, across the world. We have come up with a guide to help you choose -
Our 2013 cross-country ski marathon trips
If a regular running marathon doesn't quite do it for you, and you're up for a challenge, then a ski marathon might be the thing for you. If you have a sense of adventure, and the thought of speeding through pristine forest and Alpine meadow clad only in lycra appeals, give you must give it a try. Physically you will be exhausted - arms, legs, core, it is all being used - but it's no harder than a running marathon, and it's so low impact that you'll probably be out skiing the next day.
The Swiss Engadin and Swedish Vasaloppet are traditionally popular with British skiers, but they are just the tip of the ski marathon iceberg. Each week, from the end of December to the end of April, there's a race on somewhere in the world.
Distances range typically from 20k to 42k, but there are a number of much longer races as well as shorter races put on for children and complete beginners. We've tried to list - as accurately as possible - as many ski marathons in the world as we can find! (Please check details with race organisers before making plans).
C - classic
The Big Ones - see www.worldloppet.com and others
Each country has its 'headline' ski race, which is a member of the international World Loppet series. These range in size themselves - with smaller ski nations typically having smaller fields - but are all run to a consistently high standard.
Many of these races now offer summer running and mountain biking races, along the same scenic courses. NEW Russian entrant for 2013 - Demino Ski Marathon.
The races of the World Loppet series are as follows -
Distances given are for the Main Races, with the main subsidiary races in brackets. More information on the World Loppet organisation can be found via their website, www.worldloppet.com.
Don't think, however, that the only big races are the World Loppet races. The biggest race of them all is the Skarvarennet in Geilo, Norway in April, won in 2006 by superstar biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen. Similarly, some of the large races in continental Europe, such as the Italian La Sgambeda - held in Livigno in December - are bigger than some of the smaller World Loppet races.
The national races
Most of the larger cross-country ski nations have their own series of races, and these tend to be smaller in terms of field, and often more friendly and local in nature. There are some absolute gems, such as the Savoyarde in France, which provides a fantastic feast afterwards for all competitors.
Often these marathons are a big part of resorts' efforts to attract tourists, and much enthusiasm goes into making sure they're well organised, and that visitors are made welcome. Race offices often have links with the local tourist office, and can advise on accommodation and transport.
In the Nordic countries, races are mostly run by the local ski clubs. Often these are multisport clubs, which in summer become football or athletics clubs.
I have listed the countries with the best websites first - Austria, Germany, Italy, Norway and the US seem to lead the way here. However, behind some second rate websites lie some first rate races - so don't let them put you off!
Germany - see www.volksskilauf.de
Germany's been doing well in international competition recently, and a look at their ski marathon series reflect this. There is a great diversity of races in the calendar, and apart from the main races, there are lots of shorter races for kids, and leisure orientated skiers, over the race weekends.
Italy - see calendar
Switzerland - see www.swissloppet.com - 'Volkslanglauf'
USA - see here
France - see calendar - here
If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know. Email email@example.com.
Rollerski instruction - the first step for many British Ski Marathon-ers
Cross country skiing - our personal view
XC ski holidays - cross-country ski preparation for the competitively minded
Winter triathlon calendar - another nordic challenge