Below I have put together a list of the kit I used during the Ice Ultra. If you’re going to be going fast like Robbie Britton then perhaps you kit may be slightly different but not much. The one thing I would say is that you don’t want to skimp on your kit for a race like this, it possibly could be the difference between you finishing or not (or ending up in hospital). Temperatures can suddenly plummet, you might for one reason or another slow down and get cold.
I thought long and hard about my pack choice. I’m not a fan of using the bladder system but when racing in the Arctic it’s something that you definitely have to consider/use.
My final choice was the Ultimate Direction Fastback 20 – absolutely perfect, water resistant and fitted everything I needed for the race without having to squeeze everything in. The actual size of the main compartment probably fits about 23L and on the back is a large stretch pocket that fitted my snowshoes in – perfect.
The pack has the option for a bladder that I used but only carried a Litre of water as the remaining 600L I had in a Podium Ice Camelbak bottle that I carried in one of the water bottle holders on the shoulder straps. The other shoulder pocket has a zip which means you can carry either another bottle or as in my case my snacks for the day.
On the side of the pack are two large pockets that a could be used for bottles or putting unwanted items in as you run. I carried my extra gloves and face mask on one side (in a waterproof bag) It’s also designed to carry poles should you wish to take them.
The pack is designed so that the back and shoulder straps are made of one piece of fabric making it very comfortable to wear.
I would definitely recommend this pack.
As mentioned above I used a bladder and a 600ml bottle.
The bladder was a Salomon 1.5L. I choose this as the opening was a sliding system at the top rather than the camelbak that have the round twist opening. The bottle I used was the Podium Ice Camelbak (pink of course!) and this is what I used for the whole race. Although I carried 1L in the bladder (as required by the rules of the race) I never needed to use it. Someone running slower than me may need to use the water in the bladder.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to SOS rehydrate last year, a great product that has worked well for me. It comes in sachets which are easy to use while racing (even in the Arctic). SOS comes in three flavours, lemon, berry and my favourite Mango. Also nice with hot water.
Using the best in medical science, SOS is engineered by a leading doctor, two former elite athletes, and a retired military medical officer with the purpose of solving dehydration in order to improve overall human performance. Great product.
Having trained in the Alps with my Energy Accumulator Evo running tights it was a no brainer that they would be perfect for the Arctic. Comfortable to wear, I didn’t sweat and when I fell into the overflow because of the design of the fabric I didn’t notice I was wet.
Only negative is that I would have preferred the PINK ones!!!
The over-trousers were the same ones I had worn in 2007 for the 6633. Made by Marmot they were totally windproof with a fleece liner and had zips all the way up the side of each leg which was excellent if you wanted to take them off mid-race with trainers on. I wore these over my running tights from the start of the race and never felt the cold on my legs even when I fell into the ice cold water.
For the first two days I ran in the Energy Accumulator Extra Warm top from X-Bionic, extremely comfortable and warm. On the first couple of days I wore either just my base layer or when the storm came in at the end of day one I had my RAB jacket on as well. Considering the extreme cold/wind my body temperature was perfect.
I did however find that this top was a tad too warm and changed on day 3 to my X-Bionic Energy Accumulator Evo top; Still warm but I was able to regulate my body temperature slightly better.
Again another X-Bionic top the Beaver shirt which has a full zip although I didn’t need to wear this at all.
The Patagonia Nano Puff™ Hoody which is windproof and water-resistant. It’s made with warm, incredibly lightweight, highly compressible 60-g PrimaLoft® Gold insulation; ideal as outerwear or as an insulating layer in colder climates. http://www.likeys.com
I used this on day 4 and it worked beautifully.
After much consideration and help from Elisabet and Colin from My race kit I decided to opt for the RAB Spark Jacket. Its a minimalist stretch waterproof jacket designed primarily as a fast-and-light climbing or adventure racing piece. This I wore every day and worked well, very happy with my decision and it’s pink!
Injiniji wool socks with thermal socks over the top. Even when wet my feet never felt cold.
My trainer of choice is always HOKA so I wasn’t about to change for this race! I decided not to go for trainers larger than my normal size as I felt that this would cause more issues. The Mafate Speed worked really well and were comfortable even with the snowshoes on.
Inside my trainers I use Profeet custom made insoles. I have been using them for years and absolutely love them. They also acted as a great insulator against the cold.
A variety of snowshoes were used during the race by competitors but I noticed that the four girls all used the same type – the Kahtoola RNR Lightweight Snowshoes.
It was fairly easy to adjust the width of the binding depending on the type of trainers you used but this is definitely something that would need to be sorted before you head out for the race! They were easy to put on and take off once.
I would recommend training in them if you can, even if this means going to the beach and running up and down the sand – it’s hard work running in snowshoes. Many of the competitors had issues with their shins and achilles due to the amount of running we had to do in them.
I used my Oakley goggles that I had bought for the 6633 – they did their job although they did freeze when sitting on top of my head if I didn’t use them for a bit – I’m sure this happened to everyone.
I had a marvellous selection of polar Buffs that I took out and the one that worked the best was the one that had a fleecy lining, I think it’s their Polar reversible range; I found this didn’t freeze as much as the ordinary polar Buffs.
A great Buff pink bobble had that had a windproof band round the ears – wore this every day and it was simply marvellous!
I used a thin pair of Marmot gloves, slightly fleecy and an additional pair of mits again by Marmot but much warmer and windproof.
Definitely worth taking two pairs of gloves as my thinner pair although they were excellent got wet on two separate occasions when I fell into the overflow on the lakes.
Very happy with my sleeping bag. I used a Marmot minus 40 bag that I had used during the 6633, cosy as toast when we camped in the teepees and would take it again. http://www.likeys.com
Pair of running tights, X-Bionic recovery socks, underwear, crop top, warm top, fleece and believe it or not a T-shirt that I used one evening when in a hut as it was like a sauna – could have quite easily worn nothing but I don’t think the other girls would have been happy!
Per day: 2 x coffee sachets, 2 x hot chocolate sachets.
Snacks: I made my own trail mix made up of a variety of nuts (including salted almonds, chocolate covered raisins & nuts, cranberry’s, dates. This was a fantastic mix but as usual I struggle to eat while running so it was a case of making myself put the food into my mouth.
A couple of packs of biltong.
Breakfast: Two sachets of porridge with 25g of coconut cream – high in calories.
Main meal: 80g of smash, 1 x cup-a-soup mix, 50g of suet, S & P and yummy!
I took approx between 2,600 – 2,800 calories per day and found this to be enough. Other’s were eating way more but I was happy that I managed to eat most of what I took.
Hopefully you will have found this helpful if you’re going to do the Ice Ultra(5 day staged race) or a similar race. The competitors were told that it would be 10% in snowshoes and the rest in trainers, it was in fact the other way round. Running in snowshoes slows you down so bear this in mind when deciding on your kit.
If you get really cold you could always wear the crews yeti kit!!!