Chamonix brings lots of people together in ways they could never have imagined through hanging out on the trails, on the mountains and in the sky. One group of friends who have come together through their love of the outdoors are The Neverest Girls.
This group of Chamonix-based running pals have pushed each other on not only to run in the world’s highest marathon at Everest Base Camp, but to raise over 16,000€ for charity in the process. They are now ready to launch themselves into their next challenge, with a new charity to support so we caught up with Steph, Helen, Meg, Sam, Andrea, Nikki, Meg, Chantelle and Ali to find out more…
So, what’s this we hear about you planning another adventure?
Ali : Haha, we just can’t help ourselves! Training for the Everest Marathon and organising all our fundraisers last year was a massive undertaking and we weren’t really thinking ahead to anything else at the time but as soon as we got back from Nepal people started asking us what we were going to do next. This time round we’re heading off to Colorado to run in the Transrockies Challenge - a 6 day 120 mile stage race from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek. We’ll be running an average of 20 miles every day and camping out overnight, it’s definitely our kind of adventure. Last year’s fundraising was very much female-orientated so this year is all about the chaps, with our chosen charity being Kennedy’s Disease UK. Kennedy’s Disease is a motor-neurone related condition that currently has no cure and very limited treatment, it is a progressive muscle-wasting disease that eventually leads to complete debilitation. It mostly only affects men and there is not a lot of funding available for research, so we are aiming to raise enough to support one year of research at UCL - hopefully this will make a real difference to sufferers of the disease.
You raised over 16000€ for local charity A Chacun Son Everest last year - can you tell us a bit about how you achieved this?
Ali : Through lots of support by lots of pretty amazing people! We held a number of fundraising parties with the help of Les Caves, La Terrace and The Pub, so many friends helped us out by offering their time and skills, lots of people donated sponsorship money for running the marathon, friends and family held fundraisers in the UK such as cake sales and coffee mornings, so many local businesses here in Chamonix donated wonderful prizes that we could raffle off at our parties - too many people to thank individually but they know who they are and how much we love them!!! We have lots more fundraisers up our sleeves for this year as well, so there’s still chance to get involved if you couldn’t last time.
Chamonix is renowned for being a massive outdoor playground - what’s your favourite sport other than running?
Steph : If you ask all of the Neverest girls what our 2nd favourite sport is, you’re likely to get a different answer from each of us! For me, it’s a toss up between road cycling and rock climbing but if I really had to pick one, it’s my bike. Being on 2 wheels is a magic way to explore - I love the journeys, the distances you can cover and the speed and efficiency of road cycling. The challenge of getting up a big climb under my own steam, taking in the views from the top, and then enjoying the adrenalin rush of a technical descent. There’s nothing quite like flying down hairpin bends at 60km/hr, balanced on inch wide tyres to make you focus and feel alive! Within easy reach of Chamonix are some of the top cols of the Tour de France and pedal power is a great way to see places and people that you’d never normally notice - little out of the way villages, remote cols, beautiful buildings. From a bike you notice things, smell things, see the mountains and the countryside with fresh eyes. From a training point of view, cycling is a great complement to running - all the endurance with none of the impact. It’s also a super sociable sport - planning routes with friends and riding in a peloton is all part of the fun. And of course, there’s the coffee and cake …
What do you do to relax after a long run?
Meg : There is little that beats the euphoria of adventuring on the trails in our Chamonix playground. However arriving home after a long run does not need to mark the end of a lovely day as there is lots to do to relax and revel in the post run high. If it is a warm sunny day I will often pop down for a dip in the lake at Passy, bask in the sun and indulge in reading my book or chilling with friends. A climb at one of the local crags is the perfect way to stretch out tired muscles and end the day during warm summer evenings. When the weather is less amicable it's in for a hot shower, a quick session on the massage roller and then off to Satsuki for vegetable maki and Ganmo, my favourite.
Refuelling is an important aspect of training; where is your favourite place to go for dinner?
Helen : This is a tough question! One of the reasons I like to run is so that I can treat myself to tasty food afterwards without all the guilt. Chamonix is exceptionally good for it’s food choices. My favourites include Munchies for their speciality duck, Monkey Bar for their tasty gastro pub choices, Cap Horn for the biggest and best profiteroles in town and Les Caves for a relaxed sushi and Prosecco girly night. Yum!
Andrea : I’d have to say MOO Bar for the pulled pork burger!
We’ve heard that The Neverest Girls like a good party - where would you recommend for a good night on the tiles?
Ali : We all have our favourite spots but when we’re out together we tend to end up in Les Caves, throwing some dubious shapes on the dancefloor - we’ve had some awesome parties there and it’s one of the few places in Chamonix where you can wear heels and proper “going out” clothes and not look out of place! Otherwise, it’s off to The Pub to be lead astray by Hodge and Dave… We all love a bit of fancy dress and we’re hosting a Heroes & Villains party this Thursday at La Terrasse, it’s our first fundraiser for Kennedy’s Disease so please come along and help us make it a success!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for a good cause?
Sam : Well clearly getting my kit off for our naked calendar is not something I do every day! In all honesty we were all absolutely petrified in the days leading up to the photoshoot, but after the first photo it started to feel strangely normal walking around naked in front of each other, the photographer and his somewhat embarrassed assistant! Aside from that, risking our lives at Everest Base camp last year for A Chacun Son Everest was pretty crazy. And I once did a sponsored doughnut eat at school for charity?!
Andrea : Completing an ironman triathlon without ever having completed a normal triathlon and having done very little training was probably a bit crazy... but I did it!
Chamonix is home to a number of super-gnarly races - which ones have you done and do you have any favourites?
Sam : I have done the Mont-Blanc Marathon, the Trail des Aiguilles Rouges and the North Face CCC. The Marathon will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first marathon. The distance draws all levels of runners here, many of whom seem to be expecting a standard marathon, but it is so much more than that. The uphills are really steep, the huge descent from the Aiguillette des Posettes is super-technical, the views are just breathtaking, but most of all the support is amazing. The locals come out to support all along the route, shouting out your name from your race number, the volunteers at the food stops are lovely and of course living here we have friends en route to help and support. It's nowhere near the gnarliest race around, but it's a pretty fabulous one.
What sporting goals do you have for the future?
Ali : I think just getting through the Transrockies will be my biggest achievement! We have a couple of Ironwomen amongst us and we’re all gunning for Andrea who has won a place in the Ironman World Championships this October in Hawaii - we’re all super proud of her!
Who are your heroes? Who would you most like to spend a day in the mountains with?
Ali : Kilian Jornet - OBVIOUSLY!!! As well as being an amazing athlete and a bit of a Chamonix legend, Kilian was also kind enough to appear in a promotional video with us last year. He was very lovely and his only request was that we didn’t make him run, as it was the same day that he had smashed the record for summiting Mont Blanc in under 5 hours! We were also lucky enough to meet Lizzie Barker (massive trail running hero) in Nepal and she was very inspirational. On a personal level I’d love to disappear into the mountains with Lenny Kravitz, but that’s another matter...
How would you spend your perfect day in Chamonix?
Nikki : I’d wake up really early to beautiful crystal clear blue skies on a warm summers day. Good days start with a good feed right? I would scoff a good brekkie of poached eggs and avocado, pack my trail bag with some snacks and water, throw on my trainers and head out the door. I’d meet up with some running buddies and start to trot along one of the many amazing trails the Chamonix valley has to offer. Today we’re all on the same page, with the same thing in mind. We want to run and find that magical rhythm where you feel like you can just keep running forever and ever. Running through rolling tracks and trails, soaking up the spectacular views, through woods that have been in the sun just long enough to release their amazing scent, you catch a whiff and you just wish you could breathe it in forever! We’d finish off our run flying down a descent as fast as possible, thinking about where I'm placing my feet, but mainly about where we can all get some chips and ice cream from after we’re done?! The answer is Midnight Express. We make our way there and refuel on Midnight's finest, The jambon frites baguette. We guzzle a cola or maybe even a beer, talk about our day and a string of other things and head off home with tired legs, big smiles and a full tummy.
Helen : In winter it would be a sunny blue sky powder day shredding it up with friends, followed by an apres Happy Hour drink in Monkey Bar. Home for a quick shower, and back out again for a tasty well deserved dinner at Munchies. In summer I would be up early and out for a long trail run with the girls, back for a healthy sushi lunch at Satsuki, followed by an afternoon lazing by the outdoor pool, swimming the occasional length and looking at the spectacular view of Mont Blanc.
Andrea : I love the summer in Chamonix, so my perfect day is going for a long run on a Saturday morning, running free in the trails. Then heading down to the market, getting a cooked chicken and then taking the Montenvers train up to eat it on the glacier, followed by a BBQ with friends in the evening watching the sun set over the mountain tops.
The Neverest Girls are holding their first fundraising party in support of Kennedy’s Disease UK this Thursday 26th March 9pm in the upstairs bar at La Terrasse: Heroes & Villains fancy dress, drinks promos, prizes for best dressed, great music and all for just 5€ on the door. Come and shake your stuff for a good cause!