Week one of our 6633 Arctic Ultra training went well with nine training sessions spread over six days. We trained for a total of 12-hours with two 3-hour sessions back to back. On top of the distance training we had a VO2max assessment and two interval training sessions one on Tuesday and the other on Thursday. Besides spending time training some research was done by analysing past runners that completed the 6633 successfully. I focused my attention on the ratio between the time spent pushing on and the time spent resting at the various checkpoints.
This activity to rest ratio shows that on average a participant will rest for 3hours and 11minutes during every 24-hour cycle. This means that a participant will be actively moving for 20 hours and 49 minutes each day. It is not possible to quantify rest periods that are not associated with a specific checkpoint as the data set is limited in this regard. However, the rest to activity ratio is 0,146 to 1 or 14,6%, where a normal rest cycle is around 33%, so sleep deprivation is well supported by the available data.
Interestingly, and as expected, there is a progressive downward trend in terms of overall performance measured in the moving speed of a participant over time and distance. This represents a decline from an average 4,9km/h down to 3,9km/h over 566kms. When we look at the completion times we see that this varies between 149,75 hours and 180,76 hours, averaging at 171,84 hours. This means that overall speed, when rest stops are factored in, averages at 3,294km/h (±0,486km/h). This figure is important for any participant as it will form the basis of setting realistic race goals, and planning an effective race strategy. Knowing what to expect, physically and mentally, I believe, is critical to completing the race.
For my fellow 6633, 2018 participants that may read this, I hope that these calculations will aid you in your planning and preparation, and Tanya and I can't wait to meet all of you out in the arctic. For everyone else that thinks, that these speeds mean that the race is a walk in the park, here is a little perspective. A good friend, with whom I had the pleasure and honour to run the 2013 Marathon des Sables, is a two time British Olympic podium athlete. During 2016 he was unable to complete the race and during 2017 he came second overall, his average speed – 3,445km/h. It is obvious that the combination of cold, wind and distance over a very mentally and physically challenging terrain, represents a formidable challenge. One that will require Tanya and I to be extremely dedicated in our training, committed to the goal and focused on embracing this adventure with passion.
What a privilege to be part of this adventure.