THE ENGADIN MARATHON - a legendary race!

Check out the story of Coralie Bentz, a member of the France B cross-country ski teams, who tells us about taking part in the legendary "Engadin Marathon race". A wonderful, spectacular race that takes place, as its name suggests, in the Engadin valley in Switzerland.

A LEGENDARY RACE: “THE ENGADIN MARATHON”

This wonderful, spectacular race takes place, as its name suggests, in the Engadin valley in Switzerland.
It’s organised to guarantee ideal snow cover and conditions.
It’s freestyle and, more precisely, in skating mode that participants cover 42 km in a truly heavenly setting.

Every year, this alpine valley attracts experienced cross-country skiers and beginners who come to enjoy its many lakes. Their clear waters help make this sublime race even more attractive. Believe me, you won't be disappointed!

The history
of the Engadin Marathon

Since its first edition in 1969, this race has become a must in the world of Nordic skiing. Its start, located on the frozen lakes, in Maloja is worth the trip on its own. The snowmobiles are equipped with buoys for the occasion! The finish is in the typical village of S-chanf in the Lower Engadin.
It should be noted that the Engadin is THE biggest freestyle race on the long-distance World Cup circuit, with 14,000 participants each season.

A spectacular,
fast course

The route of this race is both very spectacular and fast, since it includes very few climbs. At the one-third point of the course, there’s one of its only difficulties: the Tremplins ascent. Halfway through, the Pontresina descent requires a lot of attention, before taking on the famous Lake Staz descent.
On this flat, fast course that involves skiing all the way, you can compete at your own level. Large pelotons take shape as the race progresses, grouping together skiers according to their physical condition.
If you arrive the day before the race, feel free to go to the village of St Moritz, where you can enjoy the sprint, at night, in the company of numerous champions in a crazy atmosphere.

The prospect of taking part in this race is very exciting, but also stressful. I train all year round, but I usually race on the special cross-country circuit, so on average 10km races. A 42km race requires a very different approach, and different race management. It’s a new challenge for me.
So here I am on the starting line alongside 14,000 competitors.

My race, my experience by Coralie:

Before departure :
The prospect of taking part in this race is very exciting, but also stressful. I train all year round, but I usually race on the special cross-country circuit, so on average 10km races. A 42km race requires a very different approach, and different race management. It’s a new challenge for me. So here I am on the starting line alongside 14,000 competitors.

The race :
My heart’s pounding, the stress, the adrenaline gradually rising. I know that, if my start is bad, it will immediately put me in trouble for the rest of the race. I concentrate, take a deep breath and focus just on myself, forgetting everything that’s going on around me, getting into my “bubble” as they say - I don’t think about anything anymore and wait for the gun.
Signal light !! I immediately “leap” into my skis … you have to ski on them, be careful with your poles, look everywhere at what’s happening, keep your wits about you and try to get behind someone who’s at least your size so you’re sheltered from the wind, but also behind someone you think is in good shape so as not to set off at a false pace. The first 3 kilometres are a little different, accelerating, slowing down, there are falls... But very quickly, a long peloton with 3 rows of skiers takes shape.

It's time to breathe, have a drink, settle in and set yourself up technically on your skis to use as little energy as possible, because there’s still a long way to go. Now I feel good, the sensations are good, I'm ahead of the peloton and the glide wax on my skis is responding well.

Then comes the moment to accelerate, with a famous intermediate sprint positioned at about the quarter-way point of the race (whoever wins the sprint leaves with a nice cheque!). At that moment, I said to myself, well, the legs aren’t really responding, the peloton is stretching out, I really must make the effort and hold on!
Here I am with 2 or 3 girls in the middle of the back of the peloton.
After the sprint, I thought it would calm down, but no! The famous ascent of the Tremplin is a real battlefield. Now braking, now accelerating, I try to find my rhythm. It's exhausting, then halfway through comes the steep Pontresina descent. I take the opportunity to swallow a gel, drink regularly, my thighs start to heat up and the sensations are about average. And here we go again for 20 km of flat, undulating terrain where you absolutely mustn’t fall asleep. The wind picks up and I find myself alone for 12 km: the hardest part of my race. I struggle by changing pace and steps to avoid falling asleep, hoping to reach the finish as quickly as possible. A few groups come by, and each time I try to “tag along” with them.
Then, 8 km before the finish line, there I am with a group of guys, a Norwegian, 2 Swiss etc. I pull myself together, knowing that now is the time to give it my all, and I lead the group, but during the descent, I put myself in the middle, to continue my effort skiing in “economy” mode. They “drag” me along until the group explodes away 2 kilometres from the finish. I find two girls who were playing the top 20! I hang on, one of them lets go, there are two of us and I know that just before the finish straight, there’s a small descent, with a bend. I stay behind, pick up the “tow”, take the inside on the bend because I don't necessarily have a very good finish, making sure I have 2 or 3 km/h more to finish the sprint. It worked! I throw myself across and come crashing down after the line. Lastly !!

A LEGENDARY RACE: “THE ENGADIN MARATHON”

Coralie Bentz

MEMBER of the French B cross-country ski teams

"I really enjoyed the magnificent scenery. I had a great experience and some really exceptional moments. But being alone against the wind is very difficult both physically and for morale. But I learned a lot and have very good memories, especially about the atmosphere.
If you have the opportunity to go as a participant or spectator, you won’t be disappointed!"