Ben Beachell, who came in 25th overall in the Arctic Circle Race men’s competition, writes:
Just completed the Arctic Circle Race in Greenland and as I used a kickbike to do most of my training, I thought I’d jot down a few notes which may be of interest.
He gives a lot of credit to the scooter. Read Ben’s notes after the jump.
Training for the Arctic Circle Cross Country Ski Race
I guess being a cross country skier in the UK, teaches you to think laterally when it comes to training as we get very little snow and there are no tracks cut locally when it does snow. Consequently I rely mainly on mountain running, roller skiing and kickbiking. Having recently finished the Worldloppet series of marathon races, I decided to raise the bar and enter the 3 day Arctic Circle Race (ACR) in Greenland.
From the sketchy details on the ACR website it was evident that this race would involve really tough courses, and more particularly about 1400-1500m climbing each day. Whilst roller skiing is a useful summer training method for the Continental citizen races I’d completed, it has its limitations as with no proper brakes, I find major downhills are not really feasible (or at least not 1500m). So kickbiking became my main training method, especially as this race is in classic style. In planning my training runs I calculated my likely finishing time each day by looking at the previous winner’s times and adding 50%. Therefore I needed routes of about 5-6 hours duration and 1500m of climb. Another feature of the course was that this altitude was made up of a number of climbs, some featuring late on in the distance and so I aimed at routes where big climbs were repeated on the way back.
Typical training route profile
Living in North Wales I had access to forest tracks and quiet mountain roads which were to prove ideal. Being pretty barren and windswept in winter, they also felt right in terms of environment. Using a kickbike cross country, I changed between road tyres and knobblies depending upon which route I took.
Wild North Wales mountain roads
The training was tough and my early attempts were somewhat hampered by the mountain roads being blocked by snow (slightly ironic). After several weekends I was adjusting to long sessions on the kickbike, dragging myself up and down these mountain roads often seeing only a couple of cars in 70km. The long climbs built stamina and I kicked up most, only hopping off and running on some of the steeper 1:7 sections. The long free wheeling descents were used to eke out as much recovery as possible.
Completing the ACR was just an amazing experience and it turned out that these training routes pretty much simulated the type of courses in the ACR; long climbs, steep sections that were quicker to run, multiple climbs and long descents. This race was definitely the toughest I’ve ever skied and was a race where you needed to be in good shape and I mean real good shape. Without training on my kickbike I would not have been anywhere near fit enough to achieve my goal of finishing this fantastic race.
~Ben Beachell, UK