Want to run Ultra Fiord (or another Ultra)? Words: Matt Maynard
- Even for very experienced runners, this may not be the event to run your furthest distance to date. I had run 70 miles at Ultra Mallorca, a year before Ultra Fiord with a lot less training, and finished that race three hours quicker.
- The Ultra Fiord is not a race for the faint-hearted in all meanings of the term. It’s a primeval race – a test of body, mind and nerve. There are dangers.
- Consider choosing an easier, familiar (or shorter distance) ultra and enjoy the event (whatever it is) and the incredible scenery you are travelling through.
- Choose a training plan that is manageable and stick to it. Be sure to include running/power hiking in your schedule as well.
- Save a little leg power during the race for your pre- or post-race itinerary for visiting more of what Patagonia (or your race destination) has to offer.
- A synthetic warm jacket is mandatory and for good reason. I used the Nano Puff made by Patagonia. Unlike down, it is well-suited to wet conditions where you may be moving slowly over difficult ground. It is also lightweight and highly compressible. The company offer a fantastic, environmentally friendly and free repair service for all their kit.
- Your rucksack is everything. Make sure it has enough pockets so that your essential items are separated and are easily accessible. This will save you time and avoid you having to take everything out in the rain. Chest or waist mounted pockets are a bonus and can be used to store food and clothing like gloves which can help you regulate your heat without taking your bag off. I used the increasingly popular Ultimate Direction, Peter Bakwin Vest – the largest race bag in their range.
- Waterproof Jacket. The North Face’s Feather Lite Storm Blocker with hood was a minimalist’s choice. I run warm though, and others may want a slightly heavier jacket that offers insulation as well.
- Sunglasses, even when it is overcast can be really useful on a glacier where there’s a lot of glare. It is also nice to reduce the level of light stimulation you receive when out for so many hours of the day. They can also protect your eyes in case of a fall. I used Colorado shades by Julbo, which I like because of the additional wrap around eye shields.
Getting to Ultra Fiord
- Fly to Santiago, Chile and then on to Puntas Arenas. From here it is a further three-hour bus transfer north to the trekking hub and race headquarters at Puerto Natales.
- Fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina and then onto Ushuaia (see Further Adventures). Travel across barrenly beautiful Tierra del Fuego by bus or hire car (6.5 hours) and then take the ferry to Puntas Arenas across the Straits of Magellan then follow above.
- Fly to Santiago and then travel overland by affordable and very comfortable sleeper bus to Puerto Montt (10 hours.) From here take the incredible Navimag three-day ferry through the fiord region to arrive at Ultra Fiord in incredible style!
Further Adventures – From race basecamp in Puerto Natales
- Torres del Paine National Park is a two-hour drive or bus transfer. Complete the world famous “W” trek as a stiff warm-up for Ultra Fiord!
- The Perito Moreno glacier – the only advancing glacier in the world that carves off spectacularly with gigantic splashes into the sea. This is another two and a half hours north from Torres del Paine.
- Picturesque Ushuaia is the southern most city in the world. Regular boat trips leave from here to explore Antartica. It’s 10 hours south by road.