YES, THIS IS FOR YOU
DON'T WORRY. Winter races come in all shapes and sizes. HERE are SOME guidelines to help you FIND THE PERFECT FIT.
YOU ARE: a reasonably fit weekend warrior who's never tried a winter event.
YOU SHOULD: get your feet wet by participating on a team. Both the Mount Taylor Quad and the Son of Inferno (see right) offer team divisions, meaning you have to compete only in a single race leg (a 30-mile bike ride, say, or a 10-mile run). Generally speaking, you'll need to sustain one to two hours of aerobic activity. Prep at least eight weeks prior to the event by gradually increasing your weekend workouts until you're able to comfortably complete the actual race distance.
YOU ARE: a recreational athlete who works out three to four times a week and who has completed at least one half-marathon or triathlon.
YOU SHOULD: try a race solo. This requires sustaining aerobic output for three to six hours. Buttress your endurance beginning two months prior to the event by stacking several race disciplines into one workout (e.g. 45 minutes of snowshoeing, an hour bike ride, a half-hour ski). Slightly increase the duration of these workouts each week. Supplement with three hourlong weekday runs or rides.
YOU ARE: a serious endurance athlete with numerous summer and at least a few winter races under your belt.
YOU SHOULD: tackle the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse or the Iditasport 100. Be prepared for at least eight hours of aerobic output (we'll assume you already have an appropriate endurance-training regimen). You'll also need solid winter backcountry skills, such as identifying signs of hypothermia, being prepared for an emergency bivouac, and knowing how to fuel your body for sustained activity in cold, dark environments.