Health on the ice

Healthy and Prepared

Let’s Get Physical

Imagine skiing 2,400 miles (3,850 km) across the icy peaks and valleys of a vast, frozen continent while pulling a 250-pound (113-kg) sled in temperatures averaging -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 degrees Celsius). This isn’t your typical workout.

Not surprisingly, preparing for such an unusual adventure requires an intense training regime — up to six hours a day — that is quite frankly, a little odd. Rather than spending countless hours in a gym pumping iron, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen trained every day by doing things they like to do that build strength, endurance and utilize a full range of body movements — among them, pulling car tires. Here’s a sample of some of their training activities:

• In warm weather, Ann and Liv challenged the outdoors by running, hiking, mountain biking and kayaking. During the cooler months, the time of year Ann and Liv like best, the duo cross-country skied and windsailed while pulling weighted sleds over snow.

• Leaving the rowing machine and weightlifting devices behind, Ann and Liv pulled three car tires harnessed to their waists against the resistance of a gravel road. This activity helped them simulate pulling 250-pounds (113-kg) sleds over gritty, rough Antarctic terrain and built leg and back muscles.

•To prepare for the long winters in Norway and Minnesota, Ann and Liv “pumped wood” by chopping it. (Ann pushed the limit by hauling the wood in a makeshift sled.) This helped the team build leg and arm strength needed for wind sailing, skiing, setting-up the tent and crevasse rescue. (Also completes a pesky chore!)

• Kitty litter in a backpack added the necessary resistance while running up and down steep bluffs to simulate pulling heavy sleds.

Go Team!

Living half a world apart, Ann and Liv were forced to do most of their pre-expedition training on their own. However, they took several joint training trips in Finse, Norway and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada, where they practiced skiing and pulling their 250-pound (113-kg) sleds, windsailing and rescue techniques.

They also tested the durability and reliability of their equipment — such as their tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear, radio and computers — in harsh Antarctic-like conditions.

Mind Games

When crossing Antarctica, mental stress can sometimes be worse than physical pain. Therefore, the team had to be in top mental condition to prepare for crossing a vast landscape of whiteness. In addition to pulling tires for hours over a gravel road — a slow, sluggish activity — Ann and Liv jogged on railroad tracks to “practice” concentration. They also trained alone to get used to less human contact and other interruptions to prepare for the trek’s natural solitude.

Medical Treatments

Besides being physically conditioned and prepared before taking off, Ann and Liv knew how to handle medical emergencies which could arise.

Pfizer supplied Liv and Ann with a medical kits and Ann took training at a Minneapolis hospital on how to handle medical emergencies and issues which may arise on the ice.

These medical issues range from hypothermia to altitude sickness to open wounds to protection from the sun.

Ann and Liv took hypothermia very seriously and safeguarded against it as well as they could with their clothing choices and food choices.

Ann and Liv went to great lengths to achieve and maintain optimum health. Their very survival depended on it. They could not take their health for granted, so they were knowledgeable about all aspects of their physical condition.

As women in mid-life, Ann and Liv have a lot to offer about living healthy lives. Perhaps one of their greatest lessons is that, regardless of age, women can continue to set and achieve goals that require physical and mental stamina. Pfizer partnered with Ann and Liv to help them ensure a healthy and successful Expedition.

What We Know!

How do Ann and Liv Clean Up?

They use moist towelettes to wash their faces and a few parts of their bodies.

How do They go to the Bathroom?

Ann and Liv “squat” quickly and with careful judgment of the wind.

How Often do They Change Their Underwear?

Once a month

Do They Ever Wash Their Hair?

When they are at home yes, but during the expedition — no.