If you’re at all familiar with The Ice Run, you’d know that it takes ‘adventure’, some may even say ‘crazy’, to a whole new level. And if you’re not familiar with it, here’s the basic 101. Teams, or ‘runners’ as they call themselves, from all over the world travel to a frozen Lake Baikal – one of the oldest (and deepest!) lakes in the world at 25 million years – jump on vintage Ural Motorcycles and navigate their way to the finish line.
Keep in mind the run is undertaken in March, which is the end of the winter in Siberia, so temperatures are known to reach -30C +. Cold, huh? And given the fact that the runners are camping on the ice, the mornings and nights are actually a type of cold most of us will never even experience in our lives. It’s times like these where man-made fabrics just aren’t going to cut it, in fact you could actually get yourself into quite a bit of trouble pretty darn quickly if you’re not prepared or wearing the correct gear.
Which is why, for the past two years, we’ve been part of this crazy adventure and sponsored Aussie teams. Let’s just say we’re all for adventure here at ioMerino – big ones, small ones, crazy ones and even the not so crazy ones. But it’s the ones where the adventurers (and adventuresses!) rely on Merino to stay warm, comfortable – and literally alive – that really gets us excited.
Michael and Freddy from The Adventourists have just completed this year’s Ice Run, so we caught up with them to hear all about it. They packed a number of ioMerino layers for this trip, including Pilot Suits, Elemental Jackets, Glacier Tracksuit Pants, Altitude Base Layer Tights and Longsleeve Tops, Beanies, Boxers and Socks, and say they were incredibly glad to have packed gear that performed so well. Despite the tough conditions and wrong turns, they came home well and alive – and with zero limbs lost to frostbite! Here they give us their race report:
We knew the Ice Run wasn’t going to be an easy adventure. Some may call it extreme and dangerous, and they are right. When you meet the local Russians and tell them what you’re up to, they look at you with disbelieving eyes and say you’re crazy. You know you’re in trouble when a Russian is calling you crazy.
It’s been two weeks on the ice and we cannot be happier to be alive and have full motion in our fingers and toes. After last year’s pioneer run where temperatures only ranged from 0C to -10C at most, we were struck hard with the typical Siberian winter. We faced the most incredible and dangerous conditions leading up to -20C on most days, cooling down to -32C during nights.
Coming from a warm and sunny Australia, we’d both never experienced temperatures like that before, so we were glad we packed as many layers, and as many high quality layers, as we did. The ioMerino Pilot Suit was a lifesaver and the number one piece of clothing we wouldn’t have wanted to forget. It was light, warm and fully functional with thumb loops, a hood and other smaller surprises, we really couldn’t have asked for a better base layer. The Altitude Tights acted as a great layer with light wearing comfort, but lots of warmth and snugness. On top we were wearing the Elemental Jackets and Altitude Tops, which gave us great warmth for our upper bodies.
The first days were the coldest on the ice while we came to grips with what it truly means to survive on the ice. Spotting cracks and trying to avoid them, but if they’re unavoidable, trying to jump over them without drowning in a cold body of water. Camping and sleeping comfortably on ice were the first lessons we learnt. Being comfortably warm was of utmost importance to survival. We had a number of hiccups in the first few days with Urals breaking down causing us to miss important waypoints and shelter at night, therefore literally camping in the middle of the lake, to accidents on the road and further mishaps on the route which left us behind schedule.Once we got past the half way mark and into the valley, we were able to drop a few layers as we got used to the cold and it became a little warmer, but what we didn’t remove was our ioGear since we were so amazed by it. Even now after the race and being back in civilization, we can’t go without it. We even catch ourselves sitting in our Pilot Suits in front of the TV!