216km in Two Days, Easy Right?

11994224_1167707533240804_692216486_nBy Maria Mikhaylova

216 km. 33 checkpoints. 15 resorts of France and Switzerland. 2 days. 1 winner.

Easy, right?

As some of you might be aware, Harry Phillpot, Oli Strong, Majdie Hajjar and I entered the Alpine Challenge 2016 organised by the Snow Camp to support an innovative youth charity that supports underprivileged people by teaching them skiing/snowboarding. The rules are pretty simple: the team that clocks up the most km’s and takes a photo with the most checkpoints wins. We were certain we stood a chance. So here’s how it went:

Thursday 14th Jan.

3:45pm. Landing in Geneva Airport.

3:50pm. Managed to forget the Challenge Guide pack on the plane, containing the ONLY information on the checkpoints. What a start.

8pm. Arriving to the Morzine resort.

10pm. Briefing followed by drinks with the other 21 teams. We try being tactical by getting the other teams intoxicated. Success.

12-2am. Route planning. Oli is memorising the map.

Friday 15th Jan.

7am. Croissants and orange juice, not quite the Full English we were expecting.

7:30am. Collecting the GPS tracker and ready to start.

8am. START! Sprinted to the chairlifts and missed the group photo. Legends.

8:45am. First checkpoint. Snap. Wait, the button lift up hasn’t opened yet.

9am. It still hasn’t opened. Skis in hands, we climb up the mountain. No time to waste.

9:15am. We get to the top. The button lift has opened. 1 checkpoint and my weekly fitness goal is met.

12am. Eight photos with the checkpoints behind us, we are second, just behind team Les Pou Pou. Who are they?

1pm. Regretting not eating more at breakfast as Oli is taking us to the furthest checkpoint in Switzerland.

2pm. Still making our way there, taking the 5th button lift in a row. The time has never been so slow.

3pm. Destination finally reached. Feeling hungry and close to hypothermia. Still 5 checkpoints to go according to plan.

4pm. Met Les Pou Pou. 5 girls. They refuse to take a photo of us at the checkpoint. Waiting to find someone else who will. Sportsmanship or what?

4:45pm. The chairlifts are closing. We talk our way in and get on the last one.

5pm. 102 km behind us and still second. Les Pou Pou are dominating. Need to step up the game tomorrow.

7pm. BBQ and mulled wine. I wish I could say TGIF.

11pm. Oli is planning the route. We tried to help, really.

12pm. Sleep, glorious sleep.

Saturday 16th Jan:

7am. And I thought Thursday 9am was bad. How wrong was I.

8am. GPS tracker collected. Game faces are on.

10am. Skis in his hands, Majdie is climbing up the mountain, deja vu or a missed turn?

10:30am. Decided to take a shortcut and ski off-piste through the forest. Didn’t quite expect for there to be THAT many trees. Slowly making it through the woods, the 1m deep fresh snow really doesn’t help.  

10:45am. Convinced that we are nearly there, we hit a dead end. River. Turning back and fighting our way out. One of our skis gets lost.

11am. After some snow-swimming we reclaimed what is ours. Heading back to civilisation.

1pm. Starting to snow, 0 visibility. Moguls everywhere.

2pm. Feeling the burn in the legs but determined to hit all the checkpoints. So far so good.

3pm. Average speed 90km/h. Visibility is still 0, but we are cashing in on the kms.

4:30pm The last checkpoint reached – it’s all down to the kms now.

5:30pm. Back to the hotel, excited and terrified for the results.

7pm. The rumour has spread that the win is between us and Les Pou Pou.

7:30pm. The drum roll. 216 km vs 205 km. LSE 1, Les Pou Pou 0. #Peak.

8pm. Celebration begins…

It was all about strategy, stamina and teamwork. One of the hardest 2 days of my life – very glad it’s over. Would I do it again? Probably not. Would I recommend it? Absolutely!

P.S. Join us at the 2016 Snow Ball on the 29th of February 🙂

Alex Dugan