Dolomitenlauf: Red bib, Tirol wreaths & BOND!

Yesterday I raced the Dolomitenlauf and right now, I’m racing hotel check out time to get this post up. We’re moving up into the mountains for a couple days of training in Obertilliach where the Internet is almost non-existent! So, here goes….. 
After a few LONG weeks off racing, I’m back!  I must admit, I was nervous coming into the race this weekend because I was feeling extremely rusty. The holiday break at home was awesome but towards the end, it was growing long as I sat at home, watching teammate’s results pour in from the Tour de Ski and US Nationals. For someone who loves racing more than waking up at odd hours to check results this was hard. But, patience was important and I have many, many kilometers of racing in my near future. Yesterday was super fun and well worth the wait. 
Here’s how the day ended:
Photo credit: Worldloppet/Epp
 But here are a few pics leading up to my Alaska departure….. 
 A “care package” from my awesome sponsor CLIF. It’s nice to travel with a taste of home and CLIF has some awesome new flavors including my new fav, a chili chocolate! 
Always need to have Mexican a couple of times before months in Europe. It’s not the same over here…. 
 And, a fun cross training workout with my AK girlfriends…. 
 BYE Anchorage! 
 Tiny, tiny bits of snow on the mountains leaving Anchorage. Alaska, similar to many places all over the world is experiencing a horribly dry winter…. 
 The first day of travel we only flew to Seattle and spend the night in an airport hotel. My parents live nearby and drove out to see us…. they brought a gorgeous green salad and my T-Mobile world wide SIM card. This is my first time ever having a phone that WORKS in Europe and it’s a crucial tool when I’m making all my own arrangements. I have unlimited text and (SLOW) data in all countries. It’s not cheap but well worth it! 
There are many people who have played integral roles in my winter distance racing experiment. Chelsea Little is pursuing a PhD in Zurich and has kindly let me use her home for ski storage. I can also sleep there before and after international flights which cuts out $200/hotel rooms…. Plus, she BAKES! What!?!?!
 This trip I was lucky enough to bring Rob, my husband along.  Part of my change from World Cup to Ski Marathons was the desire to spend more time at home and have more flexibility in my schedule. 5 solid months away from a spouse is tough no matter which way you look at it.  While Rob was hating life the first couple of days with some of the most intense jet lag I’ve ever seen he’s finally in his groove and it’s really special to share this with him.  
 We spent our first two days with my friend Bettina Gruber who recently retired from the Swiss National Team.  Bettina’s family lives in Chur, Swizterland and she was on vacation from her medical rotations. Yes, you heard that right. Bettina (who will be turning 30 Jan 31st!) pursued elite ski racing and medicine simultaneously. Perhaps my disclosure of this makes the rest of us look like slackers but I’m always super impressed with her. It was great getting to know her parents and she also taught us how to make the traditional Swiss dish, Spatzle – she even sent us with the special Spatzle maker so if you’re ever coming to dinner at our house we can make it for you! 
 Bettina’s home tracks are Lenzerheide (recent TDS stop) so it was nice to get the first couple days of skiing there. Thankfully they had just enough snow. 
Then, we made the trip to Austria…… Here’s Rob during our course inspection: 
 Photo credit: Salomon/Nordic Focus
Rob raced too!  Like the “Mr” on his bib? 
 Check out Antonela’s gloves! It sounds like she might be making the trip to the Midwest for the 2015 Birkie! 
Wax tech 🙂 

Rob helping me test skis 🙂 Photo credit: Salomon/Nordic Focus
Completely unrelated to the ski race…. the new James Bond SPECTRE was filming in Obertililach – literally a couple hundred meters from the race start/finish.  The film employed hundreds of folks and they took up all the hotel rooms in Obertilliach, making it so we had to stay down below in Sillian.  The entire town (which is tiny) was overtaken by the film production. Add a couple thousand people for the race and it was a funny mixture of Hollywood and Euro ski marathons: 
I found this picture online but Rob and I drove by the staging area and saw this plane fuselage: 
I’m actually kind of excited for the movie to come out….. ! 
 The streets of Obertilliach
 Photo credit: Meiko Homke
The race itself went well. Due to the low snow the course was changed and the race was shortened.  The OC did a fantastic job putting on a top notch event and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in combining ski racing and international travel! 
Here is a short highlight video of the race (3 mins): 
 Thanks a ton to Salomon for this help in organizing and supporting the event! After yesterday’s race I’m the current owner of the “red bib” which signifies the overall leader of the FIS Marathon Cup. Photo credit: Thomas ISEP
No Finish sprint needed! Photo credit: Thomas ISEP
I’ve always wanted one of these Vasaloppet-inspired wreaths! 
Photo credit: Thomas ISEP
And here’s how the “Alaskan Podium” played out…. I don’t think there is any shame in “getting girled” 🙂 
It was fun having our buddy Seth Downs here.  Seth is a FedEX pilot and sometimes work leaves him with multiple day layovers all over the world. Seth has perfected matching those layover with international ski racing. Jealous? I am! 
Racers and support crew – thanks to these guys! Nicolaus of SWIX Germany, Fred & Norbert of Salomon Austria. These guys waxed my skis and gave crucial feeds throughout the race! 
Seth proudly displaying his World Loppet Passport 🙂 
Race “Chief” Franz Theurl & local men including my new friend Alois Ebner in their traditional Austrian garb…. 
Last but not least, a toast with Aperol Spritz – a favoite apre ski drink in the Dolomites
What’s next? The Marcialonga next weekend? Stay tuned!!!! 
Thanks for the cheers – I can hear them all the way over here in Dolomites! And, a special thanks to all my supporters and sponsors. This wouldn’t be possible without you! 
Holly