How to… Train for an adventure race while on a ship in Antarctica

One of our team members, Sophie, is currently training and working from a ship in Antarctica, which is probably about as different as it gets from any other of the 280 GODZone competitors’ training schedules. We are in touch with Soph via email at least every few days, and are sorting some of the logistics back here in NZ while she smashes out the training hours. Here is how it’s done (in case you ever find yourself in the same bizarre situation)…

Sophie (7 of 28)

The ship is small, its not your typical cruise vessel. Its an active research vessel, 117m long, 21m wide but it does have 6 flights of internal stairs (I say internal as the external stairs are predominantly snow covered and slippery as ever most of the time!)

The training ‘missions’ consist of dodging crewmembers in the stairwell as I run laps with a 65l pack on.

The strange looks; the usual comment is “where are you going?” (that’s funny as there is literally nowhere to go) “where, why? why Sophie?” (In a Russian accent).

I get about 15m of elevation gain with each lap, that’s 70 stairs.


The gym on board is shared between 90 passengers, 42 crew and 25 One Ocean Expeditions staff (it can accommodate four at the most at any one time). However, with a good imagination and a pack it can be quite fun. It’s located on Deck 1, the deep bowls of the ship, so the music can be pumped as loud as you desire.

However my favourite training mission is ‘the bike’ . . . I randomly stumbled across an old broken exercycle, it has been welded at the base so that it stands erect and there is no resistance dial.

I was over the moon that I could spend some time sitting on a bike seat to try and ‘condition’ my bum to getting used to long hours in the saddle.

As I was sitting there with my legs spinning faster than  . . . I decided I’d try and create my own resistance. As there is no plastic housing/casing on the exercycle anymore I could jam an old gumboot in the front drive wheel. Hey presto! Resistance (a lot of it actually) the harder I peddle the more resistance it creates as it sucks the gumboot in even further. Then the smell of burning rubber starts and soon after the squeal of that burning rubber on the metal drive wheel! Oh the serenity of a true training mission for one of the world’s greatest adventure races!


So the indoor training for the outdoors is hard but one thing that I can do while out in the ice waters is add a ‘resistance band’ to my kayak.

I kayak on average twice each day for two or so hours at a time while we are on the Antarctic Peninsula guiding groups to this magical part of the world.


The resistance band is simple but effective! It’s an old bit of rope wrapped around the perimeter of my kayak adding drag and resistance. Also at the tail end of summer the sea is starting to freeze again adding nature’s own resistance as we push through thick brash ice and slushy fast ice.

Soph & Ewie (17 of 21)

We are looking forward to meeting up with Sophie in Nelson just before the race starts, and are stoked to have her incredible outdoors experience and skills joining the team. (And just quietly, think she’s a bit of a legend for having the motivation to ride a rusty exercycle in the dungeon of a ship as it squeals away and shreds through the rubber. Go Soph!)

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