If you adore the stunning Alpine setting of Europe’s ski resorts but want a new challenge that doesn’t involve skis, then why not try the Cortina Snow Run. This 17km night time run – held on 25 February next year – will take you through the stunning Dolomites scenery, running on prepared pistes, on a course which organisers believe should take no more than five hours.
Now I’m a keen runner (and a keen skier come to that) but I’m not sure that I’m quite ready to combine the two – as if to back me up, organisers warn that this is not a race for novice snow runners. In fact, they recommend getting some snow running training in before putting your name down for this year’s race.
Heeding that very sensible advice, I think I might hang back and not put myself forward for the 2018 event. But I can see the appeal of running in this stunning environment so I do intend to try a bit of snow running on my next ski holiday. And who knows, maybe the Cortina Snow Run 2019 might just be my event.
Your Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept it…
For those who are better trained than me, the Cortina Club Alpino Italiano Snow Run 2018 is now open for registration. To many hardcore runners, it presents a tempting challenge. The 17km course starts at 6pm at the bell tower in the centre of Cortina d’Ampezzo. From this point competitors will set off into the night towards the Tofane area, where the same slopes that hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics will be open to the runners.
Over the course of the race the runners will have to contend with a vertical gain of 1,380m, ascending and descending a variety of ski runs in the area. The race will terminate at the Olympic Ice Stadium. Organisers describe the route as being ‘red: EE’ which, loosely translated, means for ‘expert excursionists’ with experience of running on snow-covered ground, with a chance of icy patches.
Cortina Snow Run – Mini Trail
For those who feel that five hours of running up and down snowy slopes may just be an endurance challenge too far, there is always the slightly less demanding Mini Trail.
Setting off 15 minutes after the main race from the same bell tower location, the Mini Trail is just 9.5km long with a less intimidating vertical gain of 555m. But don’t think that the shorter distance will make this a ‘walk in the park’ – organisers still insist that this course be completed within two hours, meaning that the pace will be extremely demanding.
Of course running on snow is tricky enough, but running in the mountains can present its own challenges. The organisers stress the importance of sticking to the well-signposted route; while a short cut or off-piste excursion may look fine, getting lost in the mountains at night could be extremely dangerous.
As well as having got in some snow and ice running training prior to the event, it is important to make sure that you have the right equipment to complete the course. Good trail or (even better) specialist Alpine trail shoes are a must. If your trail shoes don’t have a waterproof seal then it’s advisable to wear trail gaiters to stop snow getting into your shoes – wet feet at these temperatures could be enough to take you out of the race.
Make sure that you wear enough breathable layers to keep you warm but also allow your body to breathe. Gore Windstopper fabric is a good way of protecting yourself from the elements without being too heavy or trapping in too much heat.
There are extreme races and even snow challenges that run across Europe, but few feature the dramatic landscape and beautiful surroundings of Cortina. Add to this the fact that if you’re dragging your family along, they get to have a ski holiday in one of Italy’s most glamorous winter sports resorts.
Come for the race and stay for a ski holiday in the picturesque town of Cortina, with its pretty cobblestone streets, excellent Italian shops and restaurants, and ski slopes which rarely suffer the crowds of other Alpine resorts. Skiers of all abilities will find a wide range of slopes to challenge and enthral them, with a choice of three mountain ski areas to explore.
How to Get to Cortina
One of the things that always makes Cortina so special for me is that you get to fly into Venice airport (I have been known to stop over in the Italian lagoon city for several days before setting off for my Alpine holiday). You can fly directly to Venice on a range of airlines from the UK, including easyJet and British Airways, and flights take around two hours.
Travelling with families and skis is not always a stress-free combination when it comes to arranging transport, so take the hassle out of it by booking a Shuttle Direct airport transfer online before you set off. Simply let the company know what winter sports equipment you’ll be travelling with and they will make sure that you’re met by a vehicle big enough to fit it (and your family) in comfortably.
Where to Stay
Hotel Bellevue Suites & Spa – Set in the heart of the resort, Hotel Bellevue Suites & Spa is full of Italian Alpine charm. With rooms overlooking Cortina’s pretty cobblestone centre, and an excellent onsite restaurant serving traditional Italian Alpine fare, this is a great base. Those taking part in the race can keep up their training schedule in the downstairs fitness centre, while other family members can relax in the spa.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is one of Europe’s leading airport transfer providers for ski holidays with a range of car choices from Standard and Executive to Premium. Let us know what winter sports equipment you will be travelling with when you book, and we will transfer it to your accommodation for you at no extra charge.