We’ve been organising the race for 7 years now and we’ve seen plenty of people have to drop out of the race for reasons that could have been prevented. Here are the top five mistakes that people make both before and during the race, maybe you can learn something which will make your race that bit easier.
1. Not looking after your feet
Every year we struggle to believe how many people have the most awful blisters at the end of day one. If you’ve been putting in the hours in your race shoes and race socks then you should by now have a strategy to prevent blisters. It is understandable to have blisters and hot spots towards the end of the race, but don’t let something near the start ruin your race. There are lots of different strategies, including taping, lubrication or wearing multiple pairs of socks. Try them out in training and see what works for you.
2. Using new and untested kit
One of our top bugbears is when people turn up to the kit check with their kit still in the wrapper! Everything you are going to use should be tried and tested. You need to know how it works and whether it is up to the job. Everyone likes buying kit and you want to save your best, most expensive kit for race day but it’s a false economy if it’s going to ruin your race. You might have worn your nice new backpack for a five mile run to see whether it fits, but have you worn it for a three hour run or for two days in a row? If not then you might not know where the little spot of chafing starts until you are a few hours into day one of the six day race, and the next five days are going to be agony. Don’t be that person, you’ll have more fun if you test your kit out in advance and know how to prevent these sorts of issues. Not many people drop out because they can’t physically keep moving, but we do see people forced to drop out due poor kit choice.
3. Being cold
There is no excuse to be cold during the race! Every year we get people who are surprised at how cold the race is. The name Iceland gives you a bit of a clue as to what to expect. Most people don’t get terribly cold whilst running as they are generating plenty of heat. What we do see is that when people are sat around in camp in the evenings they struggle to keep warm. Make sure you are carrying an adequate sleeping bag and have some warm dry clothes to change into at the end of each day. In the morning you can put your damp, cold running clothes on and keep those dry clothes for the evening.
4. Doing all your training on the road
The Fire and Ice Ultra may not be the longest race or have the most elevation but the feedback we get from runners time after time is that it is some of the hardest ground to run on. Whilst a lot of the race is on four wheel drive tracks, which Icelanders optimistically call ‘roads’, it is by no means easy going. Expect to run on long stretches of soft volcanic sand where your feet may sink. You will cross lava fields which are uneven and sharp enough to cut holes in your trainers. The tracks themselves are strewn with large rocks ready to trip up an unsuspecting runner. Prepare yourself by making sure that you train off road on difficult terrain, don’t just rack up the miles on tarmac.
5. Turning up with the wrong mindset
This race is as much a mental test as a physical one. We see people every year who come with a negative attitude and don’t get the most out of the race. Come here with the right frame of mind and you will have a fantastic experience. You will get to sample the incredible scenery Iceland has to offer, get a great sense of accomplishment and make friends for life. There’s nothing quite like running 250km and sleeping in a tent with someone to forge a strong friendship with someone you’ve never met before.
We look forward to seeing you at the start line, most of all don’t forget to have fun!