Former Sheffield University student takes on 42km ski to raise scholarship funds
A former Sheffield University student has completed a marathon ski event to raise funds for future students.
Paula Gould, aged 46, has raised over £1,000 by completing the Engadin ski marathon - a 42km test of endurance that attracts some of the best cross-country skiers in the world.
After completing the challenge, Paula posted on her online Just Giving page about the experience, which included skiing alongside many people in fancy dress costume.
She said: “What a day. It's hard to describe the party atmosphere that makes Engadin so unique.
“I've been skiing alongside smurfs, polar bears and penguins, and a party of ‘Mexicans’ pulling a giant cactus on a sleigh. I've been fed the finest Swiss chocolate at feed stations and cheered on enthusiastically by crowds lining the route.
“I was certainly smiling at the end when I saw my time: 4:01:59. Still can't believe it.”
The money Paula has raised will be put towards scholarships for students from low-income backgrounds who are applying to study at the University of Sheffield, where she now works.
The university awarded scholarships of £3,600 to 200 undergraduates starting courses in September 2018.
Paula said: “It's 25 years since I graduated with a first class honours degree, much to my great surprise and huge delight.
“Before going to university, I had been fairly nervous about a lot of things - whether I'd fit in, whether I'd cope with the work, whether I'd miss being at home. I imagine many students today will feel the same.
For some students, however, the biggest worry is the cost of university.
“I gained an enormous amount from going to university - much more than the degree itself.
“I'd like all talented students to have that opportunity, regardless of their family background, which school they go to, or where they live. That's why I decided to ski for students this March and raise funds for the University of Sheffield's scholarships appeal.”
In total, 14,200 skiers took part in the event, which saw them cross a frozen lake, ski through St Moritz and navigate a notorious downhill woodland section known as ‘mattress alley’.
The race regularly attracts famous faces, with past participants including Pippa Middleton and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney. Many competitors also choose to ski in fancy dress, adding to the party atmosphere.
Paula was new to skiing when she decided to take on the challenge.
She said: “I only started to learn the ‘skating’ technique that you tend to see in races a couple of years ago on a beginners’ holiday.
“Training for cross-country skiing here in South Yorkshire was hard, particularly when February often felt more like summer. I’d been trying to do a mixture of Pilates and core strength work to help with balance and then long walks at weekends in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales to help with endurance.
“I had a week training earlier this year in the Italian Dolomites with a small group of reasonably experienced cross-country skiers, many of whom had done ski marathons before. They gave me a lot of great tips for surviving ski marathons and Engadin in particular. It was also an excellent opportunity to do some longer days skiing.”
At the time The Star went to press, Paula had raised £1,009.20, with donations still coming in. If you would like to donate to Paula, you can. Please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paulagould-ski-marathon.