6633 Arctic Ultra: all the blog posts

 

I've found that naviagting around my 6633 Arctic Ultra blog posts on here is almost as difficult as the 6633 Arctic Ultra itself! So I thought I'd create one singular blog post with links to all the relavant information you would ever need if you're considering attempting the 120-mile or 380-mile 6633 Arctic Ultra. 

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 If you're considering attempting the 6633 Arctic Ultra these blog posts should, hopefully, give you a bit more information about the race, the training, the equipment and the planning and preparation required to get you through to the finish line at Tuktoyaktuk. If you have any questions regarding the 6633 Arctic Ultra, the route, training, systems, kit preparation or nutritional needs, please feel feel to drop me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

vEveresting……did I pace it right? 

 

So, last week I completed a “vEveresting” on my indoor bike trainer, via Zwift. So, what’s an Everesting or vEveresting I hear you ask. Basically, you find a climb and keep riding your bike up and down until you’ve climbed the height of Mount Everest (8848m). Sounds crazy, right? 

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So a few weeks ago my good friend and Deca triathlon athlete Jim Page asked if I fancied doing it with him, I thought why not? With the current COVID restrictions and lack of racing, I decided to jump in with Jim and get it done. 

I did a fair bit of research, read a load of blogs, did a few training rides on Alpe du Zwift and came to the conclusion that the attempt should take about 12hr30mins; yes, a long day in the saddle. I made plans around pacing, food & nutrition and clothing (I changed my bib shorts 6 times during the attempt) and felt ready to give the challenge a good go. 

Jim and I decided we’d start at 3:30am and attempt to get it done without losing the whole day to the challenge, so the alarm was set for 3am and before I knew it, I was downing my coffee and climbing aboard my bike. 

To achieve a vEveresting it takes 8.5 summit ascents of Alpe du Zwift, the first 3 felt OK, summits 4 and 5 felt amazing, 6, 7 and 8 (and the half summit) were tough! However, it makes it so much easier by having a ride buddy doing the challenge with you at the same time. Jim and I stayed near each other for 4 ascents, then we naturally split up, but having someone there with you, suffering the same as you, really, really helps. The last 3.5 summits were really difficult, however, I managed to maintain my pace and in fact, I managed to go a little bit quicker than my previous summits. I put this down to sensible pacing early on in the ride, along with adequate nutrition and fuelling (eating & drinking when I really didn’t feel like); this allowed me to go a fair bit quicker than the anticipated time of 12hr30mins coming home in a time of 11hr52mins.  

My summit times were: 

  1. 73min05
  2. 73min35
  3. 73min17
  4. 71min27
  5. 71min25
  6. 69min07
  7. 68min13 
  8. 68min24

This is a tough challenge, both physically and mentally and one not to be taken lightly. As with any endurance event/challenge I do I always do a lot of research before it, so my training rides informed me of the approximate power (w/kgs) I thought I could hold, hence the reason I was able to negative split the ride (getting faster each summit ascent). I have seen some really good riders positive split their attempts, with a range of over 30mins on the ascents, which leads to a few very painful final few ascents of the mountain.  

My top tips for Everesting are, have good quality bib shorts, use plenty of chamois cream, make sure you eat and drink from the start and make sure you have some decent movies to watch or podcasts/audiobooks to listen to!

If you’re thinking about doing your own vEveresting and need some advice I’m happy to help if I can, just send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

6633 Arctic Ultra: how a positive mindset can help you survive the toughest, coldest, windiest footrace on the planet!

 

One of the first questions people ask when enquiring about the 380-mile 6633 Arctic Ultra is:27616470 15181749490 r

  1. Did you see any bears?
  2. How do you go to the toilet?
  3. How do you manage to keep going in those temperatures for 9 days?

The answer to 1 and 2 is “No, I didn’t see any bears” and “you go to the toilet very quickly!”, whilst the answer to number 3 is the crux of this blogpost…….mindset. 

Mindset is a difficult thing to quantify, it’s not like training miles that you can log, but it is a skill and one that can be studied and learnt over time. For an extreme race like the 6633 Arctic Ultra you can break down the training and preparation into thirds, the first third is physical training, the second third is kit, equipment and systems choices and the final third being an endurance mindset and mental skills. Below are some of the strategies we’ve used here at WhittleFit for ourselves as athletes and with coached athletes who have tackled extreme endurance races and events:  

  1. It’s going to be tough! Simply acknowledging that the 6633 Arctic Ultra is one of the toughest races on the planet, with a DNF rate of 80% can be enough to push you on through the tough times in the race. There will be times when you want to stop and get into a nice warm crew vehicle, but this is where a strong mental mindset can keep you moving forwards, towards that finish line at Tuktoyaktuk.   
  2. Break the race down into bitesize chunks. Thinking about covering 380 miles in -30’C temperatures over 9 days is enough to scare anyone into submission. Breaking down the race into manageable pieces makes it easier to digest mentally, so it could be chunks of several miles, or the next food stop, the next checkpoint, the halfway point of the whole race, whatever it is you choose, breaking it down makes the race far more achievable. 
  3. Celebrate milestones. Celebrating your own personal milestones can be very powerful in this race. As above, breaking down the race into bitesize chunks is key, but making a little mental celebration of significant milestones can give you a massive boost. To reach the Arctic Ocean within the time limits, you have to cover approximately 50 miles a day, so for me I would have a mini mental celebration on reaching every checkpoint and on reaching each 50-mile point. Just a simple smile to myself, acknowledging the milestone, then quickly moving on to the next challenge for the day. 
  4. Eat, drink, and eat and drink some more. When you’re so cold and so tired it’s really difficult at times to stop to eat and drink. But being on top of your nutrition and hydration keeps you top of your game, both mentally and physically.
  5. Can I carry on? When things get really bad, and believe me they will at some point during the race, you should ask yourself “Can I just do 10 more minutes? Can I do just one more mile?” The answer is almost always “yes”. If so, crack on! 
  6. “Eat, Sleep, One more go”. If the answer is “No, I don’t think I can carry on” and you’re not medically injured, then a different strategy can be employed. Hopefully you won’t need this 3-stage technique, but when you’re on the verge of DNF’ing, this could save your race. We’ve coined it “Eat, Sleep, One more go”. 
    • Eat: If you feel you want to DNF, just stop, take 10-15 minutes to have some hot food, then decide. Quite often the mini-break and some hot food is enough to kick start you back into action. 
    • Sleep: If you still want to DNF, then we decide to have an hour sleep before pulling the pin on your race; so, grab your bivvy and sleeping bag, set your alarm for an hour and get some much-needed sleep. 
    • One more go: On waking if you still want to DNF we give it “One more go” before pulling the pin, so we set a time or mileage goal in our heads and go for that, then we can ‘allow’ ourselves to DNF. So, we set off; for example, we’ve said we’ll give it a go for another hour, so we push on down the trail for an hour and nine times out of ten we continue on well past the hour, and most times we manage to reach the next checkpoint. So rather than simply DNF’ing when we’re cold and tired, we give ourselves three opportunities to save our race.
  7. Visualising the race course. Due to extreme nature of this race and the distances to be covered, studying the course before hand is vital, so you know what’s coming up ahead of you and when. This then allows you to visualise the route and be cognisant of what challenges might arise, how these challenges might feel and how you could tackle them, in that moment. For example, on the “long stage” you can prepare yourself for the isolation of being on your own for 30 or 40 hours. With no checkpoint in sight, you can visualise the isolation, the boredom, the impending fatigue, etc and with this in mind you are able to mentally focus and be much more able to acknowledge that this is normal and expected, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of the next checkpoint. 
  8. Keep moving forwards. As a friend and former 6633 athlete once told me “If you’re not moving forwards, you’re not finishing.” And he is so right. Every step forward is a step closer to the next check point, which means a welcome break, which in turns means you’re a step closer to Tuktoyaktuk. Take it one step at a time but keep on trucking! 
  9. Be positive. It’s really, really easy to feel down in the dumps when you’re cold and tired, but it’s also very easy to be positive and decide you’re going to smile your way through this race. It’s scientifically proven that smiling, even a fake smile, releases endorphins and eases stress, so get that smile going and build on that positive mental attitude.

And please remember……..enjoy it! The Yukon and Northwest Territories is an amazing place and it’s a privilege for us to be able to race there, so when it gets really tough, think about why you entered the race and just stop for a moment, take a mini mental break, look around, take a deep breath and soak in the beautiful, peaceful environment. Then get moving! It’s a long way to Tuktoyaktuk! 

WhittleFit group rides: week commencing 25th January 2021

 

This week we return to the Alpe for some sessions on the Alpe du Zwift course. We have our 45min tempo-style session on Tuesday morning and a slightly easier than normal 60min session on Thursday  evening (due to the Welsh Grand Tour series race on the 30th January). Our group workout sessions are open for all, not just WhittleFit athletes.....and they're FREE (they'll always be free)!  Eurosport GCN 2

  • Tuesday 26th January: Tempo Tuesday (6:30am) Road to Sky course 
  • Thursday 28th January: Threshold Thursday (6:05pm) Tour of Fire and Ice course 

And here are the details of each session: 

  • Tempo Tuesday: A 45 minute no-drop group workout where the majority of the work is a tempo effort with the occasional splash of sweetspot or threshold work. We all do the same session (written by me), but we do it at our own intensities based on our functional threshold power (FTP), and by the magic of Zwift we all stay together. These sessions are great for boosting your FTP without destroying you, so you’re able to back up these sessions with your other planned sessions if you so wish, and also, they won’t be overly detrimental to your immune system. I will send out a separate email to the people who accept the invite for this ride as I need to send out the workout file and give instructions on downloading this file and how to join the meet up (it’s slightly different to joining a normal meet up).
  • Threshold Thursday: Todays session is a 60 minute no-drop workout where we will be working on improving our functional threshold power (FTP) by working at threshold, sub-thresold and supra-threshold intensities. This is a tough session, tougher than our Tuesday session and you should go into this session slightly rested to get the full benefit. As with the Tuesday session, a separate email will be sent out to the athletes who accept the invite for this ride as a workout file needs to be downloaded.

If you have a Zwift account and fancy joining in with one of our group sessions, drop us a message at CONTACT US and we'll get you all set up!

WhittleFit group rides: week commencing 18th January 2021

 

We are back this week with our WhittleFit group rides on Zwift! The group sessions this week are a 45min tempo/threshold session on Tuesday morning and a 60min threshold session on Thursday evening. As always, these group sessions are open to everyone, not just WhittleFit athletes.....and they're totally FREE! 357786 vtdf PR image letape 1 300dee original 1593414889 8c4cd03

  • Tuesday 19th January: Tempo Tuesday (6:30am) Watopia Figure 8 Reverse course 
  • Thursday 21st January: Threshold Thursday (6:05pm) Astoria Line 8 course 

And here are the details of each session: 

  • Tempo Tuesday: A 45 minute no-drop group workout where the majority of the work is a tempo effort with the occasional splash of sweetspot or threshold work. We all do the same session (written by me), but we do it at our own intensities based on our functional threshold power (FTP), and by the magic of Zwift we all stay together. These sessions are great for boosting your FTP without destroying you, so you’re able to back up these sessions with your other planned sessions if you so wish, and also, they won’t be overly detrimental to your immune system. I will send out a separate email to the people who accept the invite for this ride as I need to send out the workout file and give instructions on downloading this file and how to join the meet up (it’s slightly different to joining a normal meet up).
  • Threshold Thursday: Todays session is a 60 minute no-drop workout where we will be working on improving our functional threshold power (FTP) by working at threshold, sub-thresold and supra-threshold intensities. This is a tough session, tougher than our Tuesday session and you should go into this session slightly rested to get the full benefit. As with the Tuesday session, a separate email will be sent out to the athletes who accept the invite for this ride as a workout file needs to be downloaded.

If you have a Zwift account and fancy joining in with one of our group sessions, drop us a message at CONTACT US and we'll get you all set up!