North Pole Marathon Laboratory Lessons and Field Success

Martin Barwood, Holly Burrows, Jessica Cessford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: This case study documents the training, laboratory preparation, and in-race performance data from Great Britain?s top finisher in the 13th edition of the UVU North Pole Marathon. CASE REPORT: We report data from a preparatory laboratory test in simulated cold conditions (?15°C) with and without wind chill during high- and low-intensity expected ?race pace? running. These tests examined the adequacy of the selected clothing assembly and provided recommendations for the race. The tests established that there was no risk of hypothermia, as the clothing assembly provided too much insulation; terminal rectal temperature was 39.25°C. Skin temperature (Tsk) data revealed no impending risk of frostbite; nadir Tsk was 20.2°C at the hamstring. Oxygen consumption data revealed the self-selected high intensity was potentially not sustainable based on estimates of substrate utilization. We recommended: 1) a maximum running speed; 2) some of the clothing base layers could be removed pre-race; 3) vents and/or zips could be used to offload or retain heat; and 4) an even pacing profile should be adopted. DISCUSSION: The participant completed the race in 6:55:24 (h:mm:ss) in temperatures of ?41°C. GPS data revealed a positive pacing template (i.e., marginally quicker in the first half). Neither hypothermia nor frostbite occurred. Peak pace from the laboratory tests was not consistently exceeded. Marathon performance can be undertaken in one of the world?s most inhospitable environments when careful consideration is given to clothing insulation and exercise intensity by planning for the dynamic thermal changes that may occur as the race ensues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-497
Number of pages5
JournalAerospace Medicine and Human Performance
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Arctic running
  • North Pole
  • frostbite
  • pacing


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