Local girl runs Polar race to raise funds for animal park in Le Vaud

If you think the weather is a bit chilly right now, imagine what it would be like at -30 °!  This is the possible temperature that local girl Rachel Frei Bandieri might encounter when she runs a 150km race in Finland in two weeks time to support the animal park of La Garenne, based in Le Vaud (read more about this animal park below).

To participate in the Rovaniemi 150 race, a 150km non-stop race on the 20 – 22nd February, runners must carry all their food and complete equipment (sleeping bag, camping gear etc) with them and manage their race to finish within the 42 hour time limit. It can be done on foot, ski or bike (on fat bike, a specific bike with wide tires to ride on snow). Rachel says; “I have chosen to do this race on foot, because I am definitely much more used to walking and running, than skiing for hours”.


This race is a dream for me! And I know it can bring a lot to the La Garenne animal park. Animals and nature hold a special place in my life, and I am very happy and proud to give my support in an original way to the proper functioning of the park. By the way: the wolf, which is one of their emblematic animals is also the logo of my personal training company!

The Animal Park of La Garenne in Le Vaud itself has four missions: to collect and take care of injured or rescued wild animals, to participate in the preservation and reintroduction of threatened species, to provide educational services to the environment and finally, to present European fauna to the public, so it seemed  an obvious choice of charity for me to support.

36 year old Rachel is an all-terrain athlete, animal and outdoors lover. Having developed an early taste for adventure and unconventionality, Rachel travelled around Australia for 6 months when she was just 18. The following year, she set off for a trek on horseback in Mongolia, a newly open-to-tourism country. In between studies and work commitments, she travelled the world, often on foot or in a 4 x 4 vehicle and says; “I always did this in a spirit of respect when meeting other cultures”.

Rachel Frei running

In 2006, she discovered trail running and fell in love with the discipline that combines sports adventure, surpassing oneself, friendship, authenticity and discovery and says “I enjoy pushing my limits and love the feeling of being in harmony with nature. After being the first to travel the 500km of the Alptrekking in solo in 2010, having led and coached a team at the 100km Charity Oxfam Trailwalker in England in 2012, I needed a new challenge, incorporating the notion of solidarity and support to a cause that is dear to me.


Growing up and working in the area, I followed the development of this very special zoo, I brought them small injured and rescued animals and have visited it on many occasions. Their work for local wildlife as well as their educational programmes is truly exciting and admirable and deserves to be supported”.

If you too would like to support Rachel in this fantastic adventure in the heart of the polar winter and play an important part in the success of this outdoor and charity project then you click here.

You can also follow Rachel’s progress on her training, follow her blog , see photos on her Facebook page here 

See You Tube Video here of  the start of last year’s Rovaniemi 150 race.







Interview with local Swiss Olympic Athlete – Lea Sprunger, plus new Semi-Marathon for la Côte area!

Living in Nyon is delighted to publish this article written by Rachel Frei Bandieri. Rachel is a performance coach and sports trainer and and earlier this year she interviewed local resident and Swiss Olympic athlete Lea Sprunger. Lea lives in the pretty village of Gingins above Nyon and back  in 2012 she competed in the Summer Olympics in London in the women’s 200 metres event and the 4 X 100 metres relay.

Lea is also in the process of organising a new 21 k semi-marathon race on Sunday 14th September 2014. This race will start in Allaman and will partly follow the la Côte lake shore. This is an exciting new race for runners with an aim of 2,500 participants for the first edition. Read on to discover what it was like to perform in the London Olympics, how Lea stays focussed at such a big event, more details of the new la Côte semi-marathon and how you can volunteer (even if you are not a runner) and to find out a bit about the author of this article.

Lea Sprunger

Photo above -Lea Sprunger – courtesy of the athlete
Lea Sprunger  – On the Right Track by Rachel Frei Bandieri

2014 promises to be an exciting year for the now famous track athlete and Gingins resident Lea Sprunger: with her participation in the European Championships in Zurich in August and the organisation of a brand new semi-marathon in September. Lea Sprunger, soon to turn 24, is on all fronts. After competing in the 2012 Olympics in London in the women’s 200 metres event and the 4x100m relay, she is now training for her 2014 objective: the European Championships that take place this year in Switzerland. And after her amazing 1st rank in the Swiss Championship, she definitely is on the right track! One can feel her excitement about the event just mentioning it! When I met her, she had just returned from a three-week training course in South Africa and she looked really fresh and in fine form. “Training is now  quite different from what I was used to when I was still competing in heptathlon. In a way, it is a little “boring”. Hopefully, my coach understands that and he lets me vary, like putting the shot, from time to time” she explained.

Those Summer 2012 Olympics  – “A Magic Experience!”

Lea chose the 200m sprint over the heptathlon when she was in the selection for the Olympics. “I really wanted to be selected and I knew I had too many weak points in heptathlon to have a proper chance”. After the Olympic gold medal of the British athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill,  most readers probably know what heptathlon is made of…but just in case: Heptathlon is a track and field combined events contest made up of seven events, 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 metres, long jump, javelin throw and 800 metres. Unlike her elder sister Ellen, who is still competing in heptathlon, Lea is now concentrating on 200 metres and the 4x100m relay with the team made up of her sister Ellen, Maris Lavanchy and Mujinga Kambundji. When asked about the Olympics, she beams: “a magic experience!” She remembers when she went in the stadium for the first time to watch her sister, she nearly cried: “the atmosphere was incredible! The stadium was completely full; everyone in the UK knows about heptathlon and was supporting Ennis. It was really big! Even if stadiums are impressive, she does not feel tooo much pressure when she is about to run. “I am quite good at staying focussed once I am on the track. In London, I told myself that it was just a little bit bigger this time..!”.

Training in Nyon

She also mentioned that having her sister around helps a lot; it is reassuring to know that a member of the family is there with her Lea who trained in Nyon for many years and is still a member of the COVA (Centre Ouest Vaudois Athlétissme), now mostly trains in Aigle and Macolin in winter and in Lausanne in summer. Things are not made easy for Swiss athletes as there is no place or centre entirely dedicated to athletics, like the INSEP in Paris/France; for instance, there are no recovery facilities where she trains, which means more time spent on the road than ideal. However Lea is not complaining. She is among the 10 athletes that are supported by the World Class Potentials program of the Swiss Athletics Federation, which means that all her expenses in relation to training are paid by the fund. It is more difficult she says when it comes to individual sponsorship, and most of her sponsors come from the athletics world. She also works 30% for an event company and this is where the link to “her” semi-marathon shows up: “Actually, my employer is my coach”, she explains, “and he wanted me to set up a project in my area.”

This is how the Semi-Marathon de la Côte race was born. She admits not being an endurance runner herself but she truly admires people who run such events. I wanted to organise a sport event that would be accessible for all and that could also be used as a reference time for competitors. That is why we chose the semi-marathon distance rather than a mere 20km” It was important to her that the arrival be in the Colovray stadium, where she trained for all these years. The departure will be in Allaman, at the Outlet centre, exactly 21.0975 km (13.1094 mi) away from Nyon. The route will mostly use the stunning “route du lac” with a special part in Rolle where it will follow the lake shore. So if you ever dreamt of running on the quays in Rolle, don’t miss out!


Photo above  The Quayside in Rolle.  On the route of the new Semi-Marathon

To competitors and personal best lovers: the race promises to be really fast  and taking place just five weeks before the Lausanne marathon, it makes it an ideal training race! The date is on Sunday 14 September 2014, with departures from 10.30 am. There will also be a special running event for kids organised in Colovray with starting time around 09:00

Volunteers Needed A note to those interested: Lea and the organisation team are looking for some 120 volunteers to help during the event. So if you do not feel like running but would none the less like to be part of this joyful and festive event, do not hesitate and join the volunteers’ team! Lea also mentioned that sports clubs and associations who will volunteer will be paid for their contribution, a nice way to support local sports!

Targeting some 2’500 runners for the 1st edition, the Semi de La Côte wants to become a reference race by the next few years and aims at attracting 5’000 runners by 2017. Informations and registrations: On the Datasport website from April on, or on the Semi de la Côte website which will be launched in April. Link to follow.

Good luck to Lea for this fantastic new event!

The author Rachel Frei Bandieri Rachel is a performance coach and sports trainer, specialised in physical and mental training. Her holistic approach (that is, considering the person as a whole, having a global view) helps her make the difference in her work with a various range of people: from the elite athlete to the leisure hiker who want to improve their performances or take part in a specific competition or event. She also works with students or managers who want to achieve a specific goal, in sport, at work or in their personal life.

Running_photo_Rachel - For LIN

  Depending on the goal and the expectations of the clients, Rachel uses sport activities, mental preparation techniques or a combination of both. “I just love my job!, she says. It is really enriching and fascinating to work with amazing people”. Contact Rachel: trail(at)rfbconcept.ch – 079 689 90 26 you can also read on her own website  about some of the amazing trail running and endurance events she has done herself. She is also part of Les Locales, an association that gathers local businesses from the villages above 500 metres.  There will be a specific article here on Les Locales soon. Website: www.leslocales.ch

“Living along Lac Léman” book is now for sale! – The perfect gift for everyone.

Tuesday evening in Nyon saw the official launch of  the book “Living along Lac Léman”. Thankyou so much to all those who came to the Villa Thomas at the COV for the vernissage/launch.

Photos above. Happy book fans!

The venue in the stunning lake side setting made it the perfect place to launch the book. It also gave readers of this site,  La Côte newspaper, and other members of the public a chance to mingle and enjoy a glass of local Swiss wine, along with tasting some British cheeese from the British Cheese Centre of Switzerland. 

Photo above: the Villa Thomas along the lake side. Note – there will be a jazz concert at the Villa Thomas on Friday 7th Oct see COV for here for full details

There were also representatives at the event from the various local festivals (Paléo, Caribana, Visions du Réel etc),  from Nyon town council and Nyon tourism giving those there the opportunity to find out more about the three festivals and local issues.

Photo above – Checking out the book at the vernissage

About the book –  The perfect company gift, birthday or Christmas present.

Packed with columns articles and photos the book is is a light hearted look at life along the shores of lake Geneva and contains a selection of columns which have been published for the last two years in English every Friday in La Côte newspaper.  This weekly column is a conversation is about the people, places and events in Vaud as seen through the eyes of a British expatriate.

Photo above: left C. Nelson-Pollard author of “Living along Lac Léman”, right Contessa Pinon – editor of La Côte newspaper

With observations on unusual Swiss customs and on the peculiarities to be found in both the French and English languages, it also comments on other subjects such as the jargon that estate agents use when advertising houses for sale, the difficulties of making a fondue, or trying to say a telephone number in French.

Image above – article from book called  “Figuring it out”

With other articles on local festivals, the Désalpe and more, and packed with photos that capture the colour and essence of the Léman region, the book makes a perfect gift for someone who has just moved to the area. It  will also delight those who have lived here for a while, whether expat of Swiss, in recognising  the slightly side quirky side of Swiss life whilst acknowledging the beauty of the Léman area.

Image below – Article from book called “A saisir!” (on estate agents’ jargon)

At just 29 CHF, the book is available to order through this site, just click on “Living in Nyon” book on the top side bar to order.  Free delivery in the Nyon, Coppet, Rolle and Prangins area.  

From  Tuesday 11th October, the book will also be for sale at Nyon tourist office  Opening hours  Monday-Friday 08:30 -12:30/ 13:30 -17:30

Special book signing – The author will be signing copies of the book at Nyon tourist office on Friday November 4th from 16:00- 18:00.  An ideal opportunity to pick up a copy and find out about events and winter activities happening in the Nyon and St Cergue region.

Photo above and below – Selling the books left to right. Anna Hiller Bedlington, Suzy Nelson-Pollard, Nicola Bedlington.

All photos of the vernissage –  Catherine Lewis photography see site here

A jogging route just outside Nyon: No 1 in a series

Jogging Route No 1.

Having flagged up the fact that I would be posting jogging routes in the near future, it seems there are a few folk out there who can’t wait for this info and are desperate to get their running shoes on. So here is one to get you started. It’s on the outskirts of Nyon so you will need a car or bike to get there. It’s called “Parcoursvita” (parcours is French for track/course).

There are 180 of these around Switzerland and they are not just for jogging, they also encourage you to stop and exercise or stretch along the way. Here’s the Link with all of the courses in the Canton of Vaud.

There was even an article written about them in Time magazine over 20 years ago. Even though this particular article has a slightly mocking tone, you surely cannot fail to enjoy this route in Trelex.

It’s peaceful and quiet, takes you through the forest and is around 2.9 metres in length so is perfect for an after or pre-work jog. Some joggers have had the delight of seeing foxes early in the morning.

Directions: From Nyon drive to Trelex. At the roundabout head across towards Genolier, then turn almost immediately left. There is a small Parcoursvita sign under the words “Salle Polyvolante” (see photo below).

Drive out of the village and for approximately 2km up the hill. Eventually you will come to a car parking area, (on the right hand side) with a hard standing among the trees to park your car.

The course is off to the left. It tells you the length of the course, the difficulty of it and gives you more info on fitness.

It should take between 14-20 minutes according to fitness levels. The sign board gives times for completing the course if just jogging, so you can test your fitness against averages. Spending time on the exercises adds another 15 minutes or so.

Good luck!