Reality Czech: A Rural Workaway Experience

When I decided I needed to put my “tourist card” to use for the last few weeks I had in Europe I started looking into Workaway opportunities in a variety of countries. A few days after I started my search I had myself set up with a Workaway host in rural eastern Czech where I’d be helping out on a small homestead. I wasn’t sure of all the details and didn’t ask a ton of questions — I think the overwhelmingly positive experience I had with Chalet Martin had me dropping my guard a bit. Luckily it all worked out great…here is the full story, as I wrote it with pen + paper in my bunk in my downtime during my stay at David + Anna’s small farm.
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Playing Tourist

I have spent the last seven weeks settling into life at Chalet Martin in a small town in the Swiss Alps. I’ve slept in the same bed, cooked in the same kitchen, stashed my shoes on the same shelf + shopped at the same market for almost two months. It’s like I’ve been legitimately living in a tiny mountain town in Switzerland…exactly the experience I planned for when I left the States. It’s been nice. It’s gotten comfortable. It’s time to change. Yea, I know. Why fix what’s not broken…but I’m almost out of time to wander Europe so rather than stick to the comfortable I’m headed beyond the borders of Switzerland.
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Peaks + Valleys

What do you do when the clouds take over the mountain? The same thing you do when it’s a beautifully sunny day — you get your tush outside and find trails to explore! I’ve done a fairly good job of winning the fight against the snot factory that took over my sinuses but the weather has not been very good at supporting my quest to spend all my free time outside. Rather than greeting me with sunny skies and tshirt temperatures it’s been doling out lots of chilly clouds. But I am nothing if not persistent…clouds or not, outside I went!
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Take It Easy

Every time the seasons change I get sick, without fail. Sometimes I blame it on airplane cooties [like that time I nearly died from a ferocious head cold + sketchy stomach flu the week I got home from South America] but really, I think my immune system is just a big wimp that sucks at fighting off the bad guys. And I don’t care how old I am, I will always imagine white blood cells shooting sticks at these nasty germs like they do on the Magic School Bus >> https://youtu.be/uJKJr7gKS_Y [and, yes, I watched that entire episode after I found it!].
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Alone in the Mountains [Schonbielhutte]

schonbielhutte

There were only a few hours between my “I should go somewhere” thoughts and my “hop on a train” actions but I did do a little Google’ing to get a feel for the trails in the Zermatt area. The Schonbielhutte was on my radar but the hut’s website was very vague about when it closed for the season. I checked with the Zermatt Tourism Office but the woman simply read me the website…super helpful. Or not.

So, when I came upon the sign that said “Schonbielhutte 1h 25m” I decided to check out the hut for myself. Worst case scenario, the hut would be closed and I would be hiking along remote mountain trails next to the Matterhorn on an absolutely gorgeous day for another three hours. Best case scenario, the hut would be open and I’d get to spend another night in the mountains.
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Exploring the City of Zurich

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the best person to go to for city exploration advice but…I did spend an entire week in the city of Zurich so I did find a few cool places worth checking out, even if you swear you’re not a city person. Plus, I took photos and am always looking for an excuse to share them! These are the areas I visited while wandering around the city of Zurich…
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Starting the Tour du Mont Blanc Trek

When the Columbia crew left Chamonix on Saturday afternoon I packed up my Ultimate Direction Fastpack, stowed away my big Columbia duffle and headed for the train station where I hopped on a train to Vallorcine and immediately hit the trail following the Tour du Mont Blanc trail. I spent my Saturday afternoon/evening hiking against the flow of UTMB 170km racers doling out “great job” and “keep it up” along with many claps + smiles that I hope were encouraging. I was headed to Trient, the 120km check point of the UTMB where I hoped to crash at a hostel after catching Amy [the Runner’s Roost MUT Team coordinator + a major, level-headed enabler for my first ultras] as she came through.
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I’m Not Going Home, Yet.

As my Instagram feed suggests — I did not return to the States with the rest of the Columbia crew. When Columbia first threw out the possibility of running one of the UTMB trail races I was excited about a week in France, then I spent two weeks in Chile and realized that was nowhere near enough time to really explore an area. I opted to extend my stay a few weeks…and then a few months. In Switzerland you can stay in the country on a visitor’s visa for up to 90 days over a 180 day period and that is exactly what I plan on doing.
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#OmniTen Adventures: The UTMB Experience

Earlier this year when I got an email from Columbia asking about my interest in running the UTMB race I got crazy excited. Of course I was interested! It was an ultra, in the Alps! Who wouldn’t be excited!? I said yes and asked questions later.

When we got the confirmed details that we would be running the OCC, the 53K baby sister of the full UTMB ultra, rather than the 170K/110M, I was less let down than you’d think. You see, I’d still be in France and Switzerland for a week but I wouldn’t have a 100+ mile race through intensely steep mountains looming over my head the entire time. Instead, I’d go to Europe, run my race in a day and take in the energy throughout the rest of the week. That’s exactly what we all did.
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#OmniTen Adventures: Running the OCC

Welp, let’s just chase this cat out of the bag! Columbia Sportswear has done it again — they have come up with a crazy idea, pulled all the details together, and made three trail runners feel very special! On Sunday morning I boarded a plane in Denver bound for Geneva, Switzerland. And that’s where I am…in Switzerland! Well, actually France, now. But they didn’t just send me here to sit around alone. No, of course not!
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