If you’re crazy about cross-country skiing you’ve probably heard of the European Ski Marathon Championships – aka the Marxa Beret. And if you’re really crazy about cross-country skiing (also called Nordic skiing) you may even be heading to Spain in February to attend the championships as a spectator or competitor.
This year marks the 37th year of the Marxa Beret.
European Ski Marathon Championships
Every year the European Union of Cross Country Skiing Marathons organises the championships event under the shadow of the magnificent Pyrenees, in the Val d’Aran. It’s the largest cross-country skiing event in Spain and every year some 1,500 competitors line up their skis to take part and attempt to win the prestigious winter sports crown.
Separated into separate categories for ‘classic’ technique and ‘free’ technique, the competition is open to skiers of any nationality over the age of 18 with a valid EUC licence.
The first race day is for skiers using the ‘free’ technique, which is over a course of:
- 15km for beginners
- 30km for experts
The free technique involves only the toe being secured to the ski and permits the use of a skating style technique for faster movement.
On the second day of the competition is the ‘classic’ technique, conducted over a course of:
- 10km for beginner skiers
- 21km for intermediates
- 42km for experts
In the classic style, both the toe and heel are secured to the ski and the skating technique is not permitted. There are numerous control stations set up along the course to observe skiers and anyone who uses the skating technique is disqualified immediately.
At the head of the starting line for both races are the elite top 15 men and 5 women from the previous year’s race. The second line consists of competitors with a Euroloppet passport (for those on the European competition circuit) and pre-registered qualifiers. After that it’s first in best dressed and the luck of the draw!
Prizes are awarded in terms of overall ranking (men and women) and age group champions.
Registration for the Marxa Beret is €25-35, depending on competitors’ federation status. All races are conducted on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th of February, commencing at 10am at the Pla de Beret, in Val d’Aran. Competitors must show passport and accident insurance papers if requested at registration. The race is free to spectators.
It’s fast, furious and a whole lot of fun, so if you’re looking for a winter ski break with a difference, why not head to the famous Marxa Beret and get into the thick of the action?
How to Get to the Marxa Beret
If you’re planning to head to the Spanish Pyrenees to attend the European Ski Marathon Championships you can fly into a number of airports, including Toulouse, Girona or Barcelona. Airport shuttle services are the best way of getting the rest of the distance to Baqueira Beret in the Val d’Aran, where you’ll be staying. You can pre-book a private or shared shuttle transfer with Shuttle Direct and our driver will meet you at your chosen airport, load up your skis and luggage and then transport you through the Pyrenees to Baqueira Beret.
If you’re driving from Barcelona it’s a direct route along the A2 to Catalunya, then the L 303 to Tremp, turning off along the N260 all the way to Baqueira Beret.
Where to Stay:
Tuc Blanc – Cosy, characterful and right on the ski slopes, the Tuc Blanc makes an ideal base in the Val d’Aran. Warm timber features, a traditional chalet décor, and loft style bedrooms create a magical ambience with views out to a winter wonderland. When you’re not watching the race or skiing yourself, you can take advantage of the free mountain activities offered by the hotel’s expert guides.
Hotel Himàlaia Baqueira – Set in a picturesque position at the foot of the ski slopes, the Hotel Himàlaia Baqueira enjoys an elegant décor and breathtaking views from every vantage. The luxury of the spacious, contemporary rooms extends to the facilities of the onsite wellness centre, where you can enjoy a relaxing hot tub or Turkish bath before an evening of fine dining in the onsite restaurant.
Rafaelhoteles by La Pleta – The exclusive Rafaelhoteles By La Pleta is the ultimate in luxurious accommodation in the Pyrenees. With a décor incorporating natural features like stone and wood, the hotel’s understated elegance is complemented by its attention to detail, including free toiletries and a bathrobe and slippers. With stunning views over the Pyrenees, an onsite spa, and impeccable service, you’ll wake up literally in the lap of luxury.