6633 Arctic Ultra: researching the route


Likeys 6633 Arctic ultra 2Prior planning prevents piss poor performance! This was something that was drilled into me in my military days and it's something that will probably stay with me forever, mainly because I truly believe it. With anything I do, I never go into it half-assed, and with that in mind after I entered the 6633 Arctic Ultra I knew I would have to recce the course as much as possible (if that's possible from thousands of miles away!) to ensure I was fully prepared for what is coming my way in March. So I did my own fact-finding mission, I went through the 6633 Arctic Ultra website with a fine tooth-comb, I read every race report I could find (which wasn't many!) and spoke to past competitors; this is what I found: 

  • Leg 1: start to CP1 (Arctic Circle) 23 miles
    • The first stage is the shortest stage of the race at 23 miles (yes, not really that short!). Once the race is started you immediately descend gently through an Arctic stunted forest for about 6 miles to the bridge at Eagle River. On crossing the bridge, the road ascends quite steeply at first and then undualtes for about 6 miles, where upon the landscape becomes more exposed to the notorious Arctic winds. This hilly landscape continues until the first checkpoint, which is right on the Arctic Circle.
  • Leg 2: CP1 to CP2 (James Creek) 48 miles (total: 71 miles)
    • On leaving the Arctic Circle, the route continues to rise and fall and is best described as undulating (although many veteran athletes of this event will suggest that mountainous is a more appropriate description!). As you approach Glacier Creek the route becomes open and flatter and much more exposed, this whole stretch is affectionately known as Hurricane Alley, and with good reason. The potential is there for extremely strong Katabatic winds, with the road often being closed to vehicles for safety. Next up is possibly the toughest part of the route, the 10 mile uphill stretch to Wright Pass which takes you to the border with the North West Territories; upon which you then descend down to the checkpoint at James Creek. 
  • Leg 3: CP2 to CP3 (Fort McPherson) 42 miles (total: 113 miles)
    • On leaving James Creek you’re straight into 4 miles of ascent, after which the route is undulating. After some more miles you catch the first sight of the McKenzie Delta below you and from this point the trail descends to the Peel River ice crossing, after which the route changes to relatively flat for the final 6 miles into the check point at Fort McPherson. You can collect one of your two drop bags here, so it’s a good opportunity to have a change of clothes, restock your food supplies and maybe grab a few hours sleep.
  • Leg 4: CP3 to CP4 (Mid-Point Peel River) 47 miles (total: 160 miles)
    • On leaving Fort McPherson, we'll now be racing on a new route to the finish line at Tuktoyaktuk (new in 2018). This is a remote section of Ice Road, so it's pancake flat, which meanders its way to CP4.
  • Leg 5: CP4 to CP5 (Aklavik) 51 miles (total: 211 miles) 
    • Leaving CP4 you're back onto the Ice Road. This area of the Northwest Territories is very remote, but the proximity of the wooded banks along the route should provide some much appreciated protection from the winds.
  • Leg 6: CP5 to CP6 (Inuvik) 75 miles (total: 286 miles)
    • From Aklavik, the route will again continue with solid ice underfoot, albeit a wider and more exposed section of Ice Road. With this section of the race being approximately 75 miles, this non-stop section all the way to Inuvik is probably the toughest section of the race. This section will take most competitors between 30 and 40 hours, so we will certainly be sleeping out on the trail during this section. Once arriving in Inuvik, we get access to our second drop bag, so this is our last opportunity to have a change of clothes and restock our food supplies.
  • Leg 7: CP6 to CP7 (Gateway) 43 miles (total: 329 miles)
    • Similar to the first 120 miles of the race, this road is a hard packed “forest” type trail that winds its way through the myriad of lakes strewn over the McKenzie Delta. Where any tree cover exists, they will be stunted by the cold and will offer little protection from the winds that can affect the area.
  • Leg 8: CP7 to finish (Tuktoyaktuk) 54 miles (total: 383 miles)
    • The final 54 mile leg is remote, barren, yet stunningly beautiful, which makes its way to the finish line at Tuktoyaktuk on the banks of the Arctic Ocean.

As you can see from my course synopsis, there will be many, many (many) solo, cold, windy, barren miles and this is something that every competitor will have to deal with; this is the mental side of the event, which is as important (if not more important) as the physical side of the race. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be like nothing I've ever encountered before! 

If you missed the first blog post in this 6633 Arctic Ultra series (6633 Arctic Ultra.....setting the scene) you can check it out HERE, if not watch this space for the next 6633 Arctic Ultra training update. If you have any questions about the 6633 Arctic Ultra, the training required for such an epic event or the specialist equipment required, please send them over to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

6633 Arctic Ultra: December training update

Tiberiu Useriu 6633 Arctic Ultra Marathon 2015

Happy New Year!

As we enter 2019 the training for the 6633 Arctic Ultra picks up pace, here's the December update and few notes on the training going forwards.   

December has been a bit of an odd month of training compared to last month, the rubbish weather meant training sessions had to be adapted and the Christmas break always throws a spanner in the works; but I still managed to get in some key sessions.

Here's the training hours break down:

  • Running (pure running): 4hr 30mins
  • Hiking: 52hr 30mins
  • Strength: 2hr 10mins
  • Misc (cycling, testing equipment): 4hr

From the training stats you can see that compared to last month the pure running has dropped (halved) and the hiking specific training has increased significantly (more than doubled) with lots of big back-to-back training sessions and spending as much time as possible 'on my feet', in all conditions, at different times of the day (yes, lots of VERY early starts).

Read more: 6633 Arctic Ultra: December training update

Marathon training plans

VMLM 2019.9070644e4cc9

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For more information about our marathon training plans go check out our LINK or please CONTACT US and we'll get straight back to you with more details.  

Cardiff charity shoe collection

donate shoes

It’s time to clean out your wardrobes and give your ‘old’ shoes and trainers to one of two very worthy charities! Our shoe collection will be distributed to the charities For Rangers and Llamau.

We will be collecting footwear between Monday 10th December and Sunday 16th December, your footwear can be dropped off at the following locations:

Shoes must be in pairs (please tie them together) - No single shoes please.

For alternative collections or general enquiries contact: Mark Whittle (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Thank you in advance!

Charity information:

  • For Rangers: For Rangers are an anti-poaching charity who raise awareness and funds for the welfare of the rangers on the front line of the battle to save Africa's wildlife. The footwear collected will be donated to the Rangers so that they can keep up their physical fitness regime to help in their fight against poachers. 
  • Llamau: Llamau believe that no young person or vulnerable woman should ever have to experience homelessness. Their mission is to eradicate homelessness for young people and vulnerable women in Wales. The donated footwear will provide much needed support to the vulnerable people of Wales. 

6633 Arctic Ultra: November training update

We're now into December, so here's the 2nd update on my training for the 6633 Arctic Ultra, this'll cover November and a few things coming up this month.  

November has been a bit of a different month compared to last month, the training hours will be slightly different mainly as I did a lot of hours in October due to the TV documentary I was working on and I've had a whole week off (last week) due to sickness, anyway the training hours break down as:

  • Running (pure running): 8hr 50mins
  • Walk/hike/run (mixture of all): 25hr 20mins
  • Strength: 6hr
  • Misc (testing equipment): 1hr 20mins

Last week I went up to Likeys for a training weekend. It was one a half days where we learnt about:

  • Training for the 6633 Arctic Ultra
  • Race conditions (weather, terrain, wildlife, etc)
  • Medical considerations
  • Nutrition & hydration
  • Clothing & equipment selection
  • Sled choice

This was a great weekend. I learnt so much from this training weekend; in fact, I came away even more in awe of the race than before, if that's possible! I was able to meet up with former competitors and 2019 (and 2020) racers too, we were all just full of questions and each as nervous/excited as the others! This training weekend will be vital to the success/failure of the race, thank you to Martin, Sue and the Team at Likeys for putting this together.

6633 arctic ultraWith 12 or 13 weeks to go, the training knows starts to get serious and gets much more specific. There will be many more bigger hiking days, lots of big back-to-back training sessions, lots of testing of kit (bivvying out, testing the sleeping system and cooking system) and spending as much time as possible 'on my feet', in all conditions, at different times of the day (yes, night hikes too). During the race we'll be on our feet for 18-20 hours a day, so we have to get the body used to being active for very long periods; it has to feel 'almost' normal to do these kinds of things before we land in Canada in March. This training is going to be a long old slog, but as one adventurer once said "It doesn't have to fun, to be fun!". 

I've also been buying and loaning more 6633 specific equipment. I've managed to borrow a Snow Sled expedition pulk kit from a former competitor, this saves me a lot of money and knowing that this sled has done the job already in the Arctic gives me great confidence in this piece of equipment (and it'll be carrying all my supplies for 9 days, so it has to be 100% on point). I've also bought more base layers (from CRAFT and Montane), some mid layers (from Montane), an outer jacket (from Arcteryx), some Rab liner gloves, a bivy (from Outdoor Research) and lots of strapping and taping supplies (I need to become an expert in taping feet for this adventure!). There's no doubt this trip is very costly, but I can't afford to go into this with sub-standard gear; if I want any chance of finishing (and not coming home with frost bite) I need to be using the best gear. 

If you have any questions about the 6633 Arctic Ultra, the training or equipment, please send them over to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.