Sunday, 13 January 2013

Running on Ice

When I think back to the last time I was in Alpe d’Huez, my favourite activities – in order of preference – were:

1. Drinking cocktails
2. Drinking shots
3. Eating enormous sandwiches whilst drunk
4. Dancing on tables
5. Gaining extensive knowledge of French confectionery and biscuits
6. Socialising
7. Eating enormous sandwiches whilst sober
8. Skiing/snowboarding

Now I won’t pretend that this time around, I didn’t do any of numbers 1-7. However, what is different was that priority number one was getting in big days on the mountain, closely followed by priority number two: testing out my Yak Trax.

Yak Trax are a simple but genius invention; they're basically a rubber harness you wrap around your shoe. The rubber under the sole of your foot is encased by something resembling a metal spring and this is what is supposed to give you grip in icy conditions. Having worked in a ski resort for two winter seasons, I have had my fair share of icy slips. Granted, they were mostly due to daring attempts to scramble back home on the shortest route possible at 4am but occasionally they were whilst stone cold sober and pootling about the pavements. I must admit I wasn't entirely convinced that a couple of bits of rubber would enable me to go about my runs without any grip concerns, so I cautiously stepped out of the chalet into the cold, dark, alpine air and trotted gingerly up to the piste.

As soon as I was on the hard packed snow, I felt secure. I started running, just gently. The grip was incredible and before I knew it I was attempting (tiny) hill sprints, completely unhindered by traction issues. My only limiting factor was my heart; attempting to sprint when you're suddenly over a mile higher than usual is quite an effort. 

I jogged back around on the precarious roads and had never been more sure-footed, even running downhill on solid ice. I would absolutely recommend these fabulous little inventions to anyone who ever wants to get out running when it's icy. As soon as you're off the ice and on solid ground, they're not too comfortable so I would probably only use them in pretty extreme conditions. For anyone that wants to keep up their run training on their ski holiday though: perfect!

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