Running is like flying to me. On the Bernina Tour with trail runner Julia Bleasdale.
The first time Julia Bleasdale ran through the tranquil Val Roseg, she suddenly felt herself coming out in goose bumps when she caught a glimpse of the Roseg Glacier in all its glory, with the crystal-clear lake Lej de Vadret lying below. She felt as if she had found the place where she belongs. From then on, it didn’t take her very long to fulfill her dream of living in the Engadin. Julia has found the perfect place for her daily runs...
The Bernina massif is a group of mountains in the Central Eastern Alps, whose highest peak, Piz Bernina, is Graubünden’s only mountain exceeding 4,000m.
Where it all began
Julia’s fascination with mountains started at a very young age, thanks to parents who are themselves keen hikers. Her Bavarian mother and English father even fell in love on a mountain peak.
As early as the age of seven, Julia felt the urge to hike faster than everyone else. This was not only due to her competitive streak – sheer impatience and curiosity drove her to find out what lay around every corner. Her tremendous need to keep on moving was another factor, all of which led to Julia starting out on her running career at the age of ten in her home city of London. This culminated in her running in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
A heartfelt desire.
Julia came to the Engadin for the first time to do altitude training and was immediately taken by its climate and geography: challenges that she had always sought. But what really had major implications for her life was the intense feeling she had of being at home in Val Roseg! She felt this was the place she wanted to be.
When Julia moved to Pontresina in the Engadin in 2016, she started to run along every trail she could find. She set about doing this with her usual enthusiasm, planning routes with the aid of a map, and loved exploring new trails. In this way, she gradually became familiar with the region in all its diversity.
After moving to Pontresina, she kept feeling drawn to the Bernina massif and kept on looking at the map to see which of its trails she hadn’t yet covered. In this way, she completed the Bernina Tour step by step. She soon became familiar with new valleys such as Val Poschiavo, Diavolezza and its magnificent glacier, Fuorcla Surlej with its awe-inspiring views of the Engadin lakes, and the charming Engadin village of Grevasalvas.
After putting together the pieces of the tour like a puzzle, she succeeded in circling the Bernina massif. Trail running is not just a purely sporting endeavour for Julia. It gives her the chance to get to know her body and soul better, while repeatedly setting herself new challenges.
It’s about a whole lot more.
Trail running is not only about testing your limits, but about being a lot more aware of your surroundings and simply savouring the moment. Just switching off and – to put it simply – jumping over puddles and big rocks, before stopping again to watch a squirrel.
Julia often talks about the perfect run – which has a lot to do with wearing the right trainers. She’s found the perfect ones made by a company called ON: very soft when striking the ground and stiff and hard when pushing off, so that you’re propelled forward fast.
Julia can sense a lot when landing on uneven ground: she feels the ground beneath her feet while being aware of her actual running. For this reason, she consciously keeps on changing her pace to engage her senses.
But things are only really, really perfect...
... for Julia when she’s served a “Plättli”, a typical wooden platter lovingly made up of cheese from the region, ham, salami, etc. And all washed down with a glass of wine, of course. Viva!
Julia can find perfect runs in the Engadin because it contains everything that nature has to offer in a very compact area: mighty glaciers and magnificent mountains, tranquil countryside and gorgeous lakes – all against a backdrop of four glorious seasons.
- Bernina Tour From Pontresina to Pontresina
- Ascent | Descent 6,553m | 6,511m
- Length | Stages 134km | 5-7
- Technical requirements | Fitness level Medium (mountain hiking trail) | Difficult