Here’s a simple way of torching fat and getting fit that you might not have thought of – go somewhere brutally cold.
Why? Because your body is constantly trying to keep a temperature of about 97 degrees. So, when you enter an icy setting, your body must work hard, killing extra calories. Just taking a cold shower helps burn fat.
Better still, train for a race in a bone-chilling wilderness complete with snowdrifts, shifting ice and maybe polar bears. Such a setting keeps your body under constant, positive pressure. Zip up your thermal boots and discover three of the world’s top sub-zero racing opportunities.
1. North Pole Marathon
Dubbed “the world’s coolest marathon”, the North Pole Marathon will this year run on April 5. The 26.2-mile race takes you across Arctic ice floes. En route, you sometimes have as little as 6 feet of ice keeping you from 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean.
The North Pole Marathon claims to be the only marathon certified as running entirely on water – or the Arctic Ocean’s frozen wastes.
If you train hard and can comfortably run or walk 26.2 miles, then you should be able to finish, irrespective of extreme cold experience. Determination is the key ingredient, the website says.
If you really want to go the extra mile, consider the charms of the Marathon Grand Slam Club. It consists of adventurers who have completed a marathon of 26.2 miles or longer on each of the seven continents – and on the Arctic Ocean in the North Pole Marathon. One-up and then some.
2. Antarctic Ice Marathon
Mainland Antarctica is the final frontier, the last great wilderness. Sign up for the Antarctic Ice Marathon and you will be wowed, says Runner’s World.
“No other race can touch it for inaccessibility, extreme conditions and sheer icy magnificence. And as for its competitors, you won’t find a more varied, eccentric and vigorous bunch of runners anywhere else on the planet,” Runner’s World says.
Challenges that Antarctic Ice Marathon runners face run the gamut. Think “frost nip”, snow blindness, the giant hole in the ozone layer right above, even crevasses.
This year’s Antarctic Ice Marathon, the seventh, will run on November 20, a few hundred miles from the South Pole at the base of the white continent’s highest mountain range, Ellsworth.
Expect windchill of minus 20 Celsius, and the possibility of beefy down-slope “katabatic” winds. And remember that the action happens at an altitude of 700 metres.
That’s high. The ultra-extreme vibe is cemented by Antarctica’s status as the planet’s coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent.
3. Cresta Run
If marathons take too long for your taste, consider heading for the Swiss Olympic winter sports town of Saint Moritz: the home of the three-quarter-mile Cresta sled run.
Cresta sled races are held from about December 20 to early March. Before entering the Cresta ice chute, you get into gladiator gear: knee guards, elbow guards, knuckle guards. Besides you put on a cranked-tight crash helmet and steel-spiked shoes.
At the chute’s mouth near a leaning tower, a man’s boot stuck in front of your sled is the one thing pausing your breakneck meeting with gravity. When the boot moves, you whizz down the natural ice toboggan track that winds its way to a plunging gully.
Then you take 10 testing corners and fizz past the tiny hamlet of Cresta. Finally, you reach the village of Celerina – intact, hopefully.
Cresta competitors can reach speeds of 60 mph, even 80 mph. To some motorists, that kind of speed may not seem extreme. But the icy blast in your face spurs an almighty surge of adrenaline. At the end, you stop by crashing.
Adding to the buzz, Saint Moritz enjoys one of the most magnificent settings in the Alps – on the Upper Engadine lakes. In winter, the frozen lakes host weird and wonderful activities ranging from polo and horse racing to incredibly tricky-sounding “ice cricket”. How the “howzats” must echo. Yodelay-hee-hoo!