Training for the North Pole
January 2, 2014Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Eric Larsen. It's hard to blend in when you're wearing a harness strapped to two huge 50-pound truck tires and pulling them around the rough trails near the outskirts of Boulder Colorado. Lurching forward and clawing against the weight with our trekking poles and sheer will, my expedition partner and I are perplexing figures to the numerous trail runners and dog walkers, and few, if any, are able to resist commentary. "You know they roll better the other way." "Are you guys grooming the trails?" "What are you training for?"
I smile and nod, having heard the jokes many times before. After all, I've been training for our unsupported North Pole speed record expedition for several months now and as much as I want to engage each passerby with the finer details of our preparation and mission, I need to keep moving. Besides, I'm... to continue the puns... tired.
In my mind, the journey from land to the Geographic North Pole is one of the most difficult expeditions on the planet. While there have been over 6,000 Everest summits, fewer than 300 people have completed a full expedition from land to the North Pole. Sure Everest has avalanches and altitude but the traverse across the Arctic Ocean has polar bears, bitter cold (55 below zero temperatures at the start), moving ice, open sections of water and ice so thin that it bends underneath your skis. There are no sherpas to carry your gear or huge basecamp tents, either. Each day we pull all of our gear (350 pounds
at the start) some of the worst surface conditions every designed by mother nature and then set up our small tent on a (hopefully) stable piece of ice.
Hence the tires.
I have a simple philosophy when it comes to training and preparing for my expeditions: Train hard, travel easy. Every step that I take with these stupid tires strapped to my waist prepares me for my actual time on the ice. The drag caused by the tires mimics the weight we'll be pulling in our sleds on our way to the pole. Of course, we will also need to lift, pry, wedge and shove the sleds too, so I've designed a weird, but effective 'truck tire crossfit' workout to build our upper body, core strength and endurance as well.
Of course, the physical training is only one small part of our preparation. There is also gear research and testing, gear modification, fundraising, social media updates, website development, arranging logistics, media out reach, logistics planning and much
more. Every day brings more items on the 'to do' list than get crossed off. Still, it is exciting. The decisions we make now will have a direct consequence on our ability to succeed.
As does how we take care of ourselves. Being able to train hard AND manage the million other expedition details means taking care of our bodies as well. Staying hydrated not only on the trails but also throughout the day improves our ability to train, recover, type sponsorship emails and even sleep.
For those curious about what a typical 'North Pole tire pulling training session' might look like. We filmed this short while jamming to some pretty rad 80's tunes!