Can You Train for a Ski Marathon in 10 Days — Day 10: Race Day

Julia Schneemann | LaughsLaughs
Snow white
It was a fun 10 days and we vow to be back next year, maybe this time we will dress up like these guys did as snow white and the 7 dwarves. | Picture: Julia Schneemann

Today is the day: race day. After a breakfast of some honey toast and half a banana, we pack the car. I wax the skis one last time and I drop the boys early in Surlej which is below the ski resort Corvatsch, from where they catch the bus to Maloja, as the roads are closed.

I return home and eagerly watch the race on my device. You can follow the race live on the Datasport website via the chip every racer has been provided with. Till’s starting bib is 15393 and Wolf’s is 15399. To my surprise, Wolf is actually about a kilometer ahead of Till. For the first 7 miles (10 km) Wolf was about a kilometer ahead of Till. Apparently balance was winning over aerobic fitness level in the beginning. I credit his mogul skiing skills for being so good at balancing on the cross country skis, after all, a pair of ID Ones is not much fatter underfoot.

Till and Wolf
Wolf in the lead, until a snack attack near lake Silvaplana got the better of him. | Picture: Screenshot from Datasport Live coverage

Then Till overtook Wolf somewhere on lake Silvaplana; Wolf admits that he had a snack at one of the rest stops,

“You don’t understand, I was really hungry, mom!”

Till was about a mile ahead of Wolf for the next 14 miles or so, but then extended his lead steadily but surely. Till confirmed, “Having trained with you along the airport stretch was really helpful. I knew the track and I knew I could really go for it and I managed to overtake quite a few people.” Till knew every bit of the race course from here on and picked up the pace. The undulating bits did not bother him, he knew when to push for the uphill bits and when to rest on the downhill stretches and he extended his lead gradually from 1 mile ahead of Wolf to 2.5 miles ahead over the next 4 miles. Or maybe Wolf was having another snack break, we cannot be sure.

Airport Samedan
Till hits the airport, where we trained together, and extends his lead on Wolf from a mile to several miles. | Picture: Screenshot Datasport Live Coverage

Till was feeling great and his endurance level came to his advantage as he kicked into the next gear on the familiar territory, while people around him — including Wolf — were struggling. Wolf admits, “after kilometer 30 (19 miles) I was just shattered. I just kept moving out off sheer will power. I had no energy but I just thought: ‘even if I go slowly, every bit gets me towards the finish’.”

I met the boys in the finish area and I spotted Till in the home stretch from a mile away. First of all the kid is 6 foot 2 and secondly he had recently shaved his head and looked like a bowling ball. I knew he was wearing his red top — which once again was stuck to his elbow from a bloody crash earlier in the race — and I recognized his style from a mile away. I cheered him on for the last few meters and he crossed the finish line with a big smile on his face.

Till is an Engadin Ski Marathon finisher! Eagle eyed readers will notice the difference in skis on his feet. One broke mid-way and was replaced with a back-up ski. | Picture: Julia Schneemann

”Jules, Jules, check out my skis,”

Till calls from across the finish area. I had given Till my skis because they were longer than his rentals and when I looked at his feet, there was just one of my skis and a different coloured, slightly shorter one on his left foot. Apparently near the half-marathon in Pontresina the left ski broke in a crash and was replaced with a back-up ski.

There was a recount of the many crashes — there is apparently a dicy downhill stretch before Pontresina that sent many flying. Many snowplough down but Wolf admits to schussing down and jumping over people who had crashed before him. Wolf only had only one crash but says it was due to someone crashing into him, so we will not count that one. But back to Wolf — yes he made it, 43 minutes after Till, but he did. When he saw us cheering him on near the finish, he gave it a last push. He missed his goal of sub four hours, but a 4:07 hour effort is not bad for a kid that has been on cross country skis three times in total. Till finished in 3:24 hours and wonders just how fast he could have been without a broken ski and better technique.

So: can you train for a ski marathon in 10 days? Yes you can! Would I recommend it? Well, maybe not. Till certainly has caught the bug and is keen to compete again next year, but this time with more training and preferably some technique lessons. So watch this space. All in all the boys did extremely well, going from zero to marathon in 10 days and finishing in 4,538th and 5,820th place in a field of 14,000 cross country skiers.

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