Veronika & Nina on the portage

The Pierra Menta is often called the Tour de France of Ski Mountaineering racing. It is a stage race of 4 days long, each day involving long stages sometimes up to 5 hrs long.

I can’t quite believe that this was the 4th time I have done the Pierra Menta and completed it too, as that is a feat in itself. The first 3 time were with my great pal and partner Lyndsay Meyer of Brava Bella. We will race the Trofeo Mezzalama this year in a Chamonix Team. This year I raced with Veronika Swidrak of the Austrian National Team.

Veronika & Nina all at the Finish Stage 4- Pierra Menta

The Pierra Menta- could also be called the Pierra Mental….It is not over until your team crosses the finish line on day 4. So many things can happen over the 4 days- illness, broken boot or ski! Just to finish in one piece is a success!

Portage on a ridge

It is especially important to work well with your team mate. Not knowing Veronika very well before the race, and never having raced together we soon were fast friends and worked well together on and off the course.

Nina and Veronika working together as a team

Nina & Veronika working together as a team

Every day you finish a stage,  you have immediately  get yourself ready for the next day. The first thing you think about is recovering from the day. Right away we tried to have a recovery drink with in 15 minutes of crossing the finish line.  I really like Hammer Nutrition Recoverite.

Perservering through bad weather

Then it was time to change to dry clothes and eat some more. It was not often you felt like eating but it was so important to refuel your body!  Sometimes stages were over 4 hours and we burned so many calories that needed replacing. Who ever thought eating would be hard work!

In the afternoon, it was time to recover the legs! Lots of stretching and yoga poses for the quads, calves and hips.

Inspired by the crowds!

Thanks to my yogini friend Tite of yogarunners, she helped remind me of good leg flushing poses like Sirsasana against the wall,  Sarvangasana on chair and Savasana legs on chair. You can find all these restorative poses and much more at the Yoga Joural website.

As usual, the Pierra Menta is fueled by passion from many volunteers. They put on a great race despite the snow and weather conditions. 2 out of 4  days were bad weather: day 1 and 3.

Seriously we have to race in this???

The worst moment! Stage 3 arrete

Then we were blessed with sun on day 2 and day 4!


Beautiful sunshine on the Beaufort landscape

Images from the Beaufort countryside

Each day is all about endurance. You are out there between 3h and even up to 5 hours sometimes.  It was important to be fueled well during these long races. In my water bladder, I would put 1- 2 Nuun tablets.  It adds a nice subtle flavor and also keep the electrolytes balanced to prevent cramping. My favorite flavors are orange-ginger and wild berry! It really is about keeping your legs fresh for the ascents and descents too which can be just as challenging in off piste conditions. Sport Legs too are great for keeping the cramps at bay.  Sometimes the stages feel never-ending and going on forever- Hence Hammer Nutrition Perpetuum is a great fuel for any endurance efforts over two hours. The flavor Cafe Latte is a great way to start the morning! This year we got a head start on the trail running season too!

It's never over til it's over! Running to finish on last day!

Our goals were to finish the race in one piece, get stronger each day (1st 2 days in 7th place and last 2 days in 6th place) and to have fun! We achieved all these goals!

All Smiles at Finish!


Pierra Menta 2011- 7th Place Overall