Hundreds of fitness fans will be taking part in Ski Dubai’s Ice Warrior Challenge next month. Benita Adesuyan finds out what this endurance course has in store for its participants.
Sporting challenges take place on a variety of terrains promising varying levels of difficulty. The Ice Warrior Challenge (IWC) at Ski Dubai is no different, bringing a cooler edge to the city’s sports scene. Combining the continuing trend for obstacle courses and endurance challenges with temperatures below freezing, the IWC is a unique fitness test for those who dare take it on. Now in its fourth year, the chilly challenge is offering more to participants and we caught up with Ski Dubai’s Sherif Hashem to get the run-down on the city’s coolest obstacle course.
How did this event get started?
It was in 2010 that the operations manager started thinking about doing something different at Ski Dubai. We have a very unique venue and we are always striving to offer something new, so we came up with the idea to create an obstacle course to promote health, fitness and endurance. So it was essentially inspired by one of our workers. The format of the course is based on one of the world’s toughest commando courses, Tough Mudder. The IWC is also our annual charity event and we’re supporting the Dubai Centre for Children with Special Needs. We supported them last year and raised Dhs100,000, so I hope we can surpass that this year.
What exactly can sporty participants expect to face?
Basically, the whole of Ski Dubai is transformed into an obstacle course from top to bottom. There will be 20 to 24 different icy obstacles, snow challenges, tyre runs, monkey bars and cargo nets to crawl through, all at sub-zero temperatures.
What level of fitness is required?
If you exercise regularly, this will be perfect for you, as you can put your training to the test. If you do circuit training or bootcamps, IWC takes things up a level. If you don’t do any of that but maybe do some cardio or run twice a week, then it’s a few levels up. When you train at sub-zero temperatures your metabolism is boosted because your heart is trying to keep your body warm, so you end up burning more calories – it’s a fat-busting exercise.
The event has been going for four years. What’s new for this year?
We have overhauled the course. We’ve made it longer and more difficult – we’ve really brought all our toys out for this year. I don’t want to disclose too much, but there will be a snow wall that people will have to climb over.
Doing an obstacle course in the snow sounds great, but how do you prepare?
Training in the snow isn’t exactly common in Dubai but we’ve been running snow-robics here, which is a 45-minute bootcamp in the morning that will really help participants set up for the IWC. It includes a lot of high-intensity exercises. All entrants who sign up for the challenge get their first snow-robics session for free and subsequent classes at a discounted price. What’s challenging about the IWC is controlling and maintaining breathing in the cold, because people are not really used to having to do that. The snow decreases resistance so it’s hard to get used to, but that’s part of the challenge.
Is any special equipment needed for the event?
No, just show up in your trainers or running shoes and that’s it – we’ll provide gloves and a helmet.
After four years, is participation in the event increasing?
It keeps getting bigger and we currently have a good number of people signed up, and there’s still time to register. We had 245 take part last year. We’re hoping for upwards of 250 to 300 people this time around. A lot of bootcamps and circuit training classes have started in Dubai, especially in the last three years, but the unique thing about the IWC is that it takes place in the snow – it’s so much fun as well.
Can those not feeling brave enough to compete just come along to spectate?
We reserve an area for spectators up on the slope. A lot of people come with their families and partners to cheer participants on. There’s no single vantage point that will give spectators a view of the whole obstacle course, but they’ll see the majority of the action.
Have you done the IWC before? Do you have any advice for first-time challengers?
Yes, I did it once, three years ago. It was great fun. I was doing it at my own pace and I hadn’t done any obstacle challenges before so it was all new to me. I was running up icy slopes and slipping down, it was funny and very refreshing. The advice I’d give to anyone planning to take part is just to sign up and have a lot of fun!
Dhs250 per person. Ice Warrior Challenge, Saturday November 1 8am-11am. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, www.premieronline.com.
Four more ice-cold experiences to try
Chill Out Dubai
Enjoy warming soups and hot chocolate in this ice lounge.
Times Square Center, Al Quoz www.chilloutindubai.com (04 341 8121).
Penguins at Ski Dubai
Pet the cute birds at the indoor ski slope.
Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.skidxb.com (04 409 4000).
Dubai Ice Rink
Skate on an Olympic-sized rink inside the mall.
The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiicerink.com (800 38224 6255).