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The Engadin Ski Marathon has become a major international sporting event, attracting participants from more than 35 nations every year. While the idea of 26 miles of cross country skiing might not appeal to all, one of the Original Travel gang did it a few years ago and he has been virtually the first to apply every year since. Once you get over the fact that it’s strange to be in the mountains and not be going downhill it’s the most wonderful sport, a great challenge and a brilliant event in stunning surrounds.
St. Moritz is the oldest winter sports resort in the world, and has been host to two Winter Olympics and three Alpine Ski World Championships. The resort enjoys one of the most spectacular settings in the Alps, situated on the Upper Engadin lakes. Early every March St Moritz is roughly the half way point in the Engadin Ski Marathon. The first Engadin Ski Marathon took place in 1969, and it now attracts up to 14,000 participants each year. While there are thousands of people who come back year after year it also attracts plenty of newcomers.
We recommend that you head out to Zurich on the Wednesday night before the race, have two clear days of lessons, one day of rest and then take part in the race on the Sunday. Understanding the correct technique is crucial, and people in their eighties regularly take part and complete the course in not much more than three hours through good technique alone.
If it's a really top notch hotel you are after then the Kulm or Kempinski are great. Perhaps easiest though is to stay in Pontresina at the halfway point. This works very well in terms of accessing the start and from the finish. This is also a good place to be for event admin and practice.
There is a great chance of good weather too. The Engadin Valley is known for its good weather with an average of 322 days sunshine per year. The last couple years have seen near perfect conditions, clear skies, fast snow conditions and a light tail-wind.
Classic or Skating? Classic is slow, a groin breaker and a blister breeding ground. Skating is faster, more rhythmical, far more pleasing and while needing you to be a bit fitter to get the most out of it, it is what 95% of people taking part in the event do (beginner or not).
Nick, Original Traveller