Travel day from Oberammergau, Germany to Toblach-Dobiacco Italy-January 31,2020

The snow that we got a few days ago has all melted away and it’s 10 degrees today. Crazy weather! It was a good thing that they cancelled the Konig Ludwig Lauf Loppet. There is no snow except for high up in the mountains now. The drive, once again, took us over the spectacular Brenner pass and the mountains were snow capped. The downhill ski areas were very apparent from the band of white artificial snow coming down the mountains in an otherwise brown landscape.

On the road again! Over Brenner Pass!

We are super excited to ski in a new area and it will be so nice to be back in the Dolomites where we love to bike. Last summer we rode a loop from Cortina that encompassed part of the ski course. We are looking forward to seeing it in the winter.

It’s always so cool to ski in a point to point race! We start in Toblach-Dobbiaco and ski south over the Cimabanche pass and down into Cortina.
The starts always make me a little nervous. Don’t want to fall or break a pole!

Once we arrived we went to pick up our race kits and check out the expo! I ended up going to the booth with this mannequin in front.

I laughed when I saw this at the Marcialonga expo and now I’m needing it. I’m not laughing now!

I ended up getting the arm/ wrist brace as my right arm is still really sore from the Marcialonga. I plan on wearing this all the time, especially when I’m skiing! Hopefully it’ll help. Then we headed to our weekend apartment at the Casa Rosa in Villabassa, just outside of Toblach/Dobiacco to wax skis and get ready!

Ross can always find a place to wax!!

We had our usual pre-race pasta dinner and headed to bed for a 6 am wake up! The trail should be spectacular and hopefully the track will hold up for the 42 km classic. There are only about 2000 racers so it should. Forecast is for clear blue skis with a low of -5 and a high of plus 10! Oh, it’s going be fantastic!

Skiing the dream at Seefeld in the brilliant sunshine!- January 30th,2020

Today we drove to the village of Moos in the Seefeld Olympiaregion in Austria. We will try some new trails today, there are 245 km to choose from. It was a “bluebird day” with temperatures of about 0 degrees and lots of fresh snow. What else could anyone who loves skiing ask for? It was a picture perfect day so here are lots of beautiful photos. So many to choose from. Enjoy the show!

On a day like this you just want to ski from sunrise to sunset!
Oh what a day!
There are also about 200 km of walking trails and they’re wide enough for horse drawn sleigh rides.

There are numerous lodges for both the winter walkers and the skiers. They sure know how to enjoy the great outdoors here!

You’re allowed dogs on the walking trails and they plow them but leave a nice hard packed snow base. Seeing the daschund reminded me of my childhood as we always had many a wiener dog around.
A glorious day!
Ross is just loving this lifestyle! Me too!
I keep looking behind me to see the views!
A lovely downhill to the car! What a fabulous day!

We can’t wait to come back to this area again! Tomorrow we will leave in the morning for Toblach-Dobiacco, Italy for the weekend! We will ski in the 43rd edition of the Toblach-Dobiacco-Cortina Ski Marathon. Should be beautiful to ski in the Dolomites!

A day in Murnau for me and a ski day at Leutasch for Ross- January 29th, 2020

I’m still pretty tired from the Marcialonga so I’m taking an easy day. In particular I have pretty bad tendonitis in my right forearm so best to take a day off of skiing today. Ross on the other hand is going for a skate ski in Leutasch. I’m going to take the train north form Oberammergau to the town of Murnau to explore.

As I sat down on the train an older gentleman across from me opened a beer and it was only 10:30 am. Upon arriving, I followed a path towards the centre and then I befriended a nice man that lived in Murnau. He took me to the Main Street and to the visitor centre while pointing out the main points of interest. It was a very pretty town so I sauntered around and looked in the nice shops for a while then headed back to Oberammergau to do some more exploring. It was a really nice little excursion.

Murnau Main Street
In Murnau Wednesday is market day.

While I was taking it easy Ross ended up doing a 37 km skate ski in the heavy snowfall up at Leutasch!

No views today! Just lots of fresh snow!

On his ski he found some even nicer trails up near Moos so tomorrow we’ll start skiing from there. It’s suppose to be sunny so the views will be more spectacular. There are just so many places to ski! Everywhere you go around here people are skiing, either cross country or downhill. Next trip here we’d love to downhill too!

Tonight we met Robert, Grant and couple from Edmonton for a traditional Bavarian dinner at the Post Hotel. We talked about our plans for the Toblach/Dobbiaco-Cortina race this coming weekend. It’s our alternate race(s) since the Konig Ludwig Lauf in Germany was cancelled due to a lack of snow. We really hope that we can all do something about climate change.

A Ski Day at Leutasch in the Seefeld Olympiaregion- January 28,2020

Today we drove southeast to Leutasch which is about an hour away. It’s part of the Seefeld Oympiaregion. They do a fair amount of snow farming if snow is lacking in the vulnerable places on the trails, making it a perfect place to ski!

There are over 245 kilometres of immaculately groomed, beautiful trails for both skating and classic.

The sky is starting to darken!
The backdrop is spectacular!

All of a sudden the sky got darker, it started to snow heavily and the winds were gusting to about 80 km/hr! We couldn’t see a thing and I even got blown off the track. We were freezing and luckily only had about 4 or 5 km to the car. We were so relieved to get back and it was a great reminder of how the weather can change in an instant in the mountains!

Addio Italia! Hallo Bavaria, Germany!-January 27th,2020

Today we drove from Italy to Oberammergau, Germany and it’s a rest/recovery day! It really is incredible how little snow there is here and how warm it is. We drove through Ettal and stopped in at the Ettal Abbey which was built in 1330.

The monks still live there. It has a brewery and a distillery where they make beer and different types of liqueurs using the same recipes since the 1300’s. We bought a few to try.
The Gothic church was built between 1330 and 1370.
Our new home for 8 nights. Very comfy.

Our new home is super comfy, large and extremely well equipped. The kitchen has every gadget and appliance known to man and it also has a nice pellet stove. It’s about a 3 minute walk to the zentrum of Oberammergau.

It has a meat slicer and laundry too!

Oberammergau is known for it’s wood carving and painted houses. There are so many wood carving shops with shelves lined with hundreds of carvings, mostly religious. This schwein cutting board caught our eye and we bought a beautiful linden wood bird carving to bring home.

This one is called the Little Red Riding Hood house.

It’s going to be a great place to stay. There would normally being some great “langlauf” (cross-country skiing) here as it’s part of the Ammergauer Alpen. We are about 12 km north of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We will drive to Austria to ski in the Oympiaregion Seefeld, which is only about an hour away. We have decided to do the Toblach-Dobbacio-Cortina races in Italy this weekend, we will stay there for two nights. The 42km classic is on Saturday and the 32 km skate is on Sunday!

We are keeping our fingers crossed that there will be enough snow for the Cez Jiserska Worldloppet next weekend in the Czech Republic! Can’t wait to see my family there!

Marcialonga Race Day!!!- January 26, 2020

Well the big day is finally here! We all woke up at 4:30 am to eat a good breakfast and to walk down to the bus stop for 6:15 am. The coach bus took us to the start area in Moena. It was still quite dark when we arrived so next time we’ll bring a headlamp to the start of every race. We were able to do a last minute ski test on the actual track. We have both decided to race on wax skis. They seemed fast and the track was pretty solid. Ross put several layers of klister covered with a hard red Toko wax. I am so thankful that Ross does my skis and he’s so so good at it!

The final waxing touches are done!
More skiers still testing!

The start area was super energizing! Lots of people, helicopters flying overhead with loud music playing! They were playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Winter and then ACDC etc. Ross and I said our good byes as he was starting 2 waves earlier than me. Ohh, it was going to be a great day!

The starting pens!
Waiting to start!

The start was very relaxed. Once they opened the gate you just ran out, put your skis on, started your watch and started skiing when you were ready. There were tracks for about 50 metres, yes only 50!

The tracks were icy and totally washed out and with in about 10 minutes I knew that this was going to be a very tough ski! The first 18 km were up hill to Cavalese. Every little town we skied through was lined with people cheering. My wax didn’t last long, so I had to double pole up quite a bit- super tough! In Cavalese a group of fans actually called out my name. They had the start list book and had looked me up-pretty neat. We did a loop around the church and it was a real happening place!

The food stations were very well supplied with water, Enervit and tea to drink. The food consisted of mini ham sandwiches, cookies, oranges, chocolates and dates. I stopped at most checkpoints along the way.

The downhill was much harder than I thought because double poling without a track or washed out ones is very tiring on your legs. At about 30 km I stopped for wax at the Toko stand and they put on some purple grip wax. I thought this might allow me to diagonal stride a bit more and it did for a little while. At this point I decided that this was going to be really tough, 70 km seemed so far and that I was going to need a lot of grit and determination.

Meanwhile Ross was double poling ahead of me and going so fast! He was having a fabulous time. He’s just such an amazing skier!

Even though it was mostly downhill from Cavalese the few uphills on the course were very slow moving.
A Line up that brought back memories from the Vasaloppet last winter. A nice rest though!

Predazzo was another super vibrant town and it was where you turned off to the finish for the 45 km Marcialonga light. No way I was doing that! I was in for the 70km! It was also really cool to be skiing on the street that we cycled on last summer.

At 63.5 km at Molina di Fiemme I had the Toko guys put on klister so that I could climb up to the finish at 70km. The hill was gradual for a couple of kms. and then the last couple were very steep and windy- herring bone was necessary. The trail was winding up through the woods and then the track wound around the buildings of Cavalese on very narrow streets, more like walkways.

All of a sudden you could see the lights, including big strobe lights and hear the sounds of the finish! Oh I was so excited! So many people were cheering me on the way in. It was an electric place!!!

I’m just so happy to have crossed the line!
Looks a lot different than the day before. There’s snow!

I asked Ross what his thoughts were right after I met up with him. He was super happy but tired. His heart rate average was 150 bpm so he definitely worked hard. He loved skiing through the villages but wished that the track had been better. It was hard to pass so many people because the track was so narrow but he still managed to get by them and finished in 5 hours and 23 minutes. Me on the other hand finished in 8 and half hours. Ross also loved skiing on the ribbon of snow with grass all around and found it very cool to ski over and under the bridges. It really was fantastic!

Once we picked up our bags, changed our clothes, picked up our finisher shirts had something to eat and got our passports stamped we walked up hill for about 30 minutes to Carano, to our apartment. When we were almost there we saw many cars parked on the side of the street looking down on Cavalese. As it turns out they have a big fireworks show as soon as the last skier crosses the line. What a show it was-lasted about 25 minutes! Bigger than Canada Day show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa!

Oh wow! What an amazing ski and day it was!!! We did it! We now have another stamp for our Worldloppet passports and are one step closer to achieving our Gold Masters!

Race photos to follow.

The history of the Marcialonga and Ski Testing Day- January 25,2020

The Marcialonga- 47th year!

The first edition of the Marcialonga was in 1971 by four Italian friends who had skied the legendary Vasaloppet in Sweden the year before. For the first six years of its running women were forbidden from participating. Interesting!  Marcialonga means “long march”.

The race starts from the “plain” of Moena at an altitude of 1,150 metres above sea level and is 70 km long. Then it goes up the Fassa valley to Canazei and back down past Moena and Predazzo to Molina di Fiemme, finishing in Cavalese.

As it’s the day before the race we will take it easy today and drive to the stadium at Tesero to test the skis. Will it be skins or wax? Since the course is basically 18 km uphill followed by about 49 km slight downhill with a 3 km steep uphill to the finish it is really a double poling race. However, it’s very warm and will I slip a lot on the up hills if I go with wax? Ross is a fantastic at double poling but I am going to have a hard time double poling 49 km. Skin skis will drag on the down hill though. Tough decision!!

Which skis will it be?
It’s a huge testing area.
Robert and Ross
Me and Ross- thinking it will probably be a wax ski race1
The coaches watch as there is a lot of competition between countries.
Grant took the tough decision making out of the game. He only brought skin skis so is checking out the track.
Hard to believe that the race will run given the lack of snow. You can see the track in the left hand corner.
This picture was in Ross’s race kit. The child’s address is on the back so we’ll write him back. Too cute!

Well it’s pasta for dinner and early to bed for us all. Wake up will be at 4:30 am. Big fun day tomorrow!!!!

Race Kit Pick up and Preparation Day-January 24, 2020

Today we headed up the road for 13 km to the pass for a classic ski. A big part of the drive is 18% grade. It sure would be a tough bike ride up and a crazy downhill. Once again it was a clear sunny day with a wind of 2 m/s. We met a fellow Canadian from Canmore who was also here for the Marcialonga. After our lovely ski we had a traditional ham and cheese panini at the bar.

Snow canons and lots of skiers!
What a view!
Perfect tracks!
There are some trails with trees still standing!
Looking for fellow Canadians!

After skiing we went to pick up our race kits for the Marcialonga. The bib pick up and the finish are both in Cavalese. Here is a picture of the finish area- notice that there is absolutely no snow. They will truck man-made snow in by the dump truck full through the whole town! They call it snow farming and actually the whole course of 70 km is on an artificial snow track!

They are going to need to bring in a lot of snow for the 7000 racers to ski through the town to the finish!
They are super organized. This is where they will hang our clothing bags,
The children in all of the villages are involved in creating artwork.
More children’s art work.

Once we were all set we headed to Nones’ Intersport ski shop to buy some red wax, klister and boot dryers. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by an older gentleman all dressed in ski clothes standing in front of his own wall of fame. 

Maybe some good luck will come my way from Franco!

As it turns out his name is Franco Nones and he won a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble. He was the first non-Scandinavian and non-Soviet/Russian male to win an Winter Olympic Gold medal in cross-country skiing. I showed him our bag of wax that we bought and he said “vitamins”!! Not sure what he meant by that.

Ross and the boys waxed skis so that we could test them tomorrow on the track at the stadium in Tesero. I walked to the Hotel Maria to work on my blog and to listen in on the Norwegians discuss their secrets at the bar.

The excitement and nervousness is building! It’s going to be very warm on race day so will it be skins or wax skis?? We’ll decide tomorrow.

Lavazeloppet Race Day- January 23, 2020

It’s another gorgeous day in paradise!!

Race start is 9:30 am so we headed up at 8 am. What a surprise it was- the sun had not risen above the mountains yet and it was quite cool but we were excited about the race. 

The sun finally popped up!

Things were very relaxo so we even had time to pop into the bar/ristorante for a chocolate  croissant before the start.  

We lined up at the start with about 300 people and I was just in front of a lady from Australia that looked about my age so I had a goal! The girl from Russia in front of me seemed really serious and also in my age group.

The course was rolling at the start and then there was a long downhill followed by a 5 km uphill. I never had a chance of keeping up with the Russian girl as she was super fast at double poling. The Australian was a good match and one I’d try to beat . It was crowded at first but soon spread out nicely. Once I got to the top of the hill I knew that we had a 5 km downhill. Then I thought that we’d ski another loop but to my surprise I asked someone at the top of the steep hill just near the finish and he said that I had 5oo m to go. Sure was a nice surprise- even though I had been saving myself for the last 5 km.  In the end it was 17.5 km long. Of course, Ross was at the finish waiting for me. He had finished in 1:11:07 and me in 1:32:20. In the end I was 13thwoman out of 55 and 3rd in my age group. (The Russian girl was 2nd and the Australian girl was 4th). After the race the Australian girl and I congratulated each other and she encouraged us to come and do the Kangaroo Hoppet, which she has done 3o years in a row. Robert and Grant were also pretty happy with their results. It was a super day all round! Life in the mountains is such a great lifestyle!

Grant at the finish!
Robert at the finish!
Me at the finish!
My fellow competitor Marg, from Australia.
Wishful thinking! But very happy!

The professional photographers’ photos:

First race finish of 7 in the 3 weeks we are in Europe!

Skiing up at Passo Lavaze-January 22,2020

Here are a few pictures of our village of Carano. As you can see it sure doesn’t look like there’s any cross country skiing around here but up at the Passo Lavaze is a whole different scene!

Now for the skiing !!!!!

We woke up to a gorgeous, bright, sunny day with a temperature of about -4 at the pass and 0 degrees at our apartment.  There is no snow on the ground in Carano but some on the mountain tops in the distance. Hard to believe that we are actually going to be able to cross country ski at all. The four of us headed up to the Passo Lavaze and I was so shocked to see the trail system and the number of cross country skiers on the plateau at between 1600m to 1880m. There are bars/ristorants/hotels and lodges. The skiing was unbelievable and we covered about 16 km of rolling terrain with spectacular views. The “apocalyptic” windstorm of 2018 has blown down an incredible number of the trees so the jagged mountain tops are in plain view. After our ski we picked up our race bibs for the 43 rd edition of the Lavazeloppet which is a short Worldloppet short course of 22 km being held tomorrow morning. It’ll be a great first race- we’re excited!!!

It’s just so spectacular! We love it here!
There are over 80 km of trails!
A lot of double poling around here!
One of the few trees that’s still standing after the storm.
How’s this for a nice place to take a break?
Winter triathlon training. Here it’s ski , bike and run!
Hope you are enjoying my blog and get to come skiing here some time soon!
This will be the finish of the Lavazeloppet race tomorrow! Can’t wait!