Before we start, I just want to add a disclaimer that this is about completing Nuts. I completed 4 laps of Winter Nuts March 2016, one of the coldest years, but I didn’t do it fast – there are people much more qualified than me to help you compete….. this is about surviving. Hopefully it gives some helpful advice to those of you who are taking it on for the first time, or maybe are going back with unfinished business.
I think completing Winter Nuts comes down to 3 things:
- Kit / Nutrition
I believe that the most important is the third. You have to REALLY want to finish 4 laps of Nuts. In my opinion, if you’re “giving it a go”, or “I’ll sign up for 4 laps and see how I do”, then go and race 2 instead. You’re going to be wet, cold and potential miserable, for hours. You’re also going to be given the option after every lap to give up, which is tempting when you know exactly what’s to come. Set your target, decide on your motivation and take it lap by lap. In my mind, I had someone in my thoughts for each lap, and a goal for each lap – it made it much less daunting than thinking about the four. Whatever works for you – if you want it, keep moving and keep going.
PTs will be able to recommend much better than me on what’s the best training, but it’s also not rocket science. Like most other endurance OCRs, it’s a case of time on feet, and upper body endurance as there’s plenty of climbing and crawling on the Nuts course.
I’d been there the day before and saw what the course had been turning people into – how brutal the cold was – people who don’t normally struggle with the cold barely able to say their name. The Nuts team also posted across social media that it was COLD – whatever you have, WEAR IT. So I did. Enter, the Michelin woman.
Here’s what I had.
- Neoprene socks
- Inov8 212s
- Virus stay warm leggings
- Virus long sleeve stay warm top
- Inov8 long sleeve merino top
- Team vest
- 2mm neoprene vest
- Neoprene hat (eBay)
- Neoprene gloves (eBay)
- Subsports thermal buff
- Cheap windbreaker jacket (for final lap only)
Yes, I looked like the michelin man – but I bloody finished 4 laps of Winter Nuts ok, so don’t take the piss 😛
In my transition area kit box I had a whole change of kit incase I needed it (although it’s always a better idea to just keep moving rather than spend time getting changed), spare shoes (The nuts course has a tendency to eat shoes), and a spare buff/thermal buff for each lap (a nice moral boost to be wearing something dry and warm).
Worked for me. I wasn’t speedy but I never felt like I became dangerously cold.
Again, whatever works for you for your other OCRs. Make sure your kit box at the transition area is full of whatever works for you. You’re burning an insane amount of calories with the cold, and once you run out, you’re going to struggle as your body can no longer heat itself. Make sure you’ve eaten an adequate number of calories before starting.
A hot drink is also a good idea. I had a hot water mix of dextrose to warm me up. But also include some things that will just be ‘nice’ when you’re 6 hours in – for me it was pain au chocolat. Make sure your box is clearly marked and you (and any supporters of yours) know exactly where it is. Accept and ask for help from strangers – unwrapping packets with cold hands is tough.
- There are parts of the course where it’s harder to move as fast as you need to to generate heat, so when you have the opportunity to run, RUN. At about 5.5km into the course after the woods, you’re in the open fields and the wind can really whip you. Keep moving and keep warm.
- Again, keep moving! Don’t be tempted to stay in the transition area longer than you need to.
- The 4th lap can be very cold, quiet and lonely – keep going, you’re not far from victory!
Best of luck!!