for those who love the outdoors

29 January, 2024


Natasha Sones enters craziest, coldest stand up paddle race in the world

The 10th anniversary of the GlaGla Race stand-up paddleboarding race on Lake Annecy took place in January 2024. As it took place on my birthday and I was looking for a new adventure I decided it was fate and entered! The name GlaGla translates to the Brrrr Brrrr Race in English… as in it's freezing COLD!


Held in a quiet corner of France in the freezing cold depths of winter, this amazing race saw 700 people paddle in the middle of winter. The day before the race it had snowed and I was a little concerned as it was windy and freezing plus the water looked very choppy. However the day of the race was perfect conditions; not much wind and the sun came out. It was very cold though; -8 in the morning. Luckily I had several layers on, including base thermal layers, dry trousers, dry cagoule, thin top, neoprene boots and wet socks, a snood, woolly hat and gloves.

There were three different distances in the race. One was a 3.5km course, one was 6.5km and the long distance was 14 km. The GlaGla Race is especially popular with foreign competitors. I decided to go for the very short distance as it was my first SUP race and the conditions are tricky!

After the safety briefing and an energetic warm up with the yeti mascot, we put our paddleboards onto the water. I was paddling a Red Paddle Co 13' 2" Voyager which is really smooth for paddling on. I nervously lined up at the start, the horn sounded and then we were off. It was very surreal paddling with hundreds of other people but it was really good fun. There were competitors from 25 countries.

Lake Annecy is absolutely stunning, surrounded by the Bornes mountains range. The snow-capped mountains loomed all around me and the water was a beautiful blue and clear. I was concerned about falling in but thankfully managed to stay on. It was the most beautiful location I’ve ever paddled in. The race celebrates both the extremes of French winter and the beautiful scenery of the Alpine lakes.

Soon I reached the first buoy and then I paddled to the finish, whilst the others continued to the other distances. When I finished there was cheering from all the spectators and my family at home saw me pulling up at the pontoon on the Facebook livestream of the event. I was elated to have completed it and not fallen in!

After the race there were massages available, food and drink as well as a sauna and Norwegian bath to enjoy.

Find out more information about the race from the Alpine Lakes Tour and Lake Annecy from the Lake Annecy Tourist Office.

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Natasha Sones

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I have an outdoor adventures blog. Having three children, I am particularly interested in getting outside with my family. I aim to make every day an adventure, especially with my children, husband, dogs and friends. From exploring new cities to being in our campervan with the dogs, we like an adventure. We live near the sea and forest and explore every day.

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