You are allowed to bring with you trail running poles on the course of the Engadin Ultra Trail. I advise you to start thinking about buying poles already now. After all, running with poles needs to be practised.
Why use poles? You know it from cars: four-wheel drive helps in (almost) every situation. On the uphill, you can take the strain off your legs and save energy; downhill, they help you keep your balance and take the strain off your thighs.
Which pole should I use?
You have a wide range of poles to choose from: from hiking poles that weigh around 500 grams to ultra-light carbon poles that weigh around 80 grams. They come in different designs that have an impact on their weight: Fixed length poles, folding poles with fixed or variable length, with normal hand loops or with glove-like loops to click in and out, as they are also used for cross-country skiing and Nordic walking. Once again, I would advise you to go to a specialist shop for advice.
How do I use the poles?
You can use the poles in different ways, depending on your speed and the terrain:
1. as in walking, alternate right and left push-off in "diagonal step" as in cross-country skiing: for example, start with the right pole in front of you at the level of the left foot and with the right foot behind. You can use this technique in any situation.
2. Place both poles parallel in front of you and push off for three to four steps: cross-country skiers know this movement as "double poling". This technique is particularly efficient on steep ascents.
It is always important to use the poles for propulsion and not simply to drag them along: to do this, you have to push off properly with your hand on the loops, keeping your grip as loose as possible.
How do I carry the poles?
During the EUT you have to carry the poles for the whole distance. There are several ways to do this: simply hold the poles in your hand (on flat stretches, make sure you hold them in the middle of the pole and not by the handle: this will take the strain off your forearms). Folding poles can be carried in or - with special loops - on your backpack. Some manufacturers have developed bags in which the folded poles can be stowed on the stomach or back.
Practice with the poles at least once or twice a week in different terrain, starting with shorter distances to avoid sore muscles in areas unfamiliar to runners (arms, neck, shoulders). By the way, part of the EUT course is now snow-free: pole training in the EUT terrain is the ideal preparation for the race.