For quite a few years Salomon has been holding an 'Advanced Week' every April where they get a group of us runners together to spend time with the shoe and apparel designers from Salomon HQ in Annecy, France to talk shop. Well, ok - it's not all talk, it's a good amount of running too - trying out prototype shoes, testing new hydration packs and all in all working together to come up with the best products imaginable for the running market in years to come.
Last week I was invited to attend Advance Week in sunny Mallorca, Spain, a trip I ultimately didn't make due to a last minute appointment for hard surgery so I did have to laugh when I got the email that this years Advance Week was to be held in the notoriously rainy Lake District, UK. Well, at least it being scheduled in a not so tropical environment would guarantee no bike accidents or injuries this year!
Despite originally being from the UK I had spent very little time in the Lake District in the past so it was a real treat to get to stay in Keswick for 6 nights and explore the surrounding fells wearing our trusty Salomons. We had a great community event on the Thursday where folks came out to watch various Salomon Running TV films, listen to Kilian Jornet and Seb Montaz banter about their worldwide mountain adventures together, and then go for a group run where we had about 200 local (and not so local) runners show up on a beautiful sunny spring evening.
But for me the highlight of the week was taking part in my first fell race
ever. As someone who is a little more acquainted with non-technical ultra running I checked first with one of the local Salomon guys that he didn't think I'd be dead last on the 13k course with 975m of gain that is the Coledale Horseshoe. Matt assured me that I would not be last, which was comforting given the course was unmarked so I was going to need to follow the locals in front! Having spent the week doing more vertical running that I am used to (as well as some sneaky road sessions to keep the regular training up) needless to say the legs were not very fresh for the race on our last day in the area but that didn't matter as the Salomon runners were all there simply to have fun and take part. It was also great to chat with locals, including Phil and Mark who had spent much of their time in the previous few days showing us around their fells (thanks guys) and just be part of a low key, fun community race. I certainly hope it won't be my last fell race and would sign up for another in an instant - if only in Canada they didn't make us stick to marked trails :)
Overall, I've come away from Advanced Week with sky high motivation and with a clear understanding of why Salomon are in many ways the leaders in the trail running market. Everyone involved with Salomon is passionate and 110% dedicated to what they do. 'Making do' is not an attitude they comprehend, 'making better' is a philosophy they live every day.
I hope you enjoy some of the photos below which go someway towards showing how spectacular the Lake District is and how fun our week was.
|Subtle fell colours on a grey, rainy, hail storm of a day.|
|Keswick community run with my Sharman Ultra coaching client, Steve.|
|Even road running is pretty in the Lake District|
|On a closed road these wooly locals were my only road running companions.|
|Coledale Horseshoe. That was fun! Photo: Philipp Reiter.|
|Mira, Yngvild, myself, Anna and Martina: Team Salomon! Photo: Philipp Reiter|
|Warming up with Anna. Photo: Philipp Reiter.|
|With Flora team mates, Anna and Max. Photo: Rickey Gates.|
|There's lot of work to do to improve my fell running skills ;) Photo: Tristan Reid.|
|Thanks for guiding us around Phil & Mark! With Felix, Greg, Max, Francois and Ryan.|
|Salomon Keswick community run|
|With Mira Rai, Salomon team mate from Nepal. Check out her new film at www.miraraifilm.com|
|How's that for a race finish line? Coledale Horseshoe.|
|Max & Micha tagged the fell and then came back down to find this slack asser still working her way up ;)|