THE BLOG
22/11/2013 07:16 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Northern Lights, Fruit Soup and Naked Snow-Rolling: My Surprising Arctic Ski Diary

I'd trained hard in preparation for our first ever Arctic Marathon. But back in February 2013, as I was settling into my bunk at our base station in Alesjaure, Sweden, I could not imagine what the team and I were about to face. As founder of Walk the Walk and the MoonWalks, I was used to walking long distances wearing just a bra.

I'd trained hard in preparation for our first ever Arctic Marathon. But back in February 2013, as I was settling into my bunk at our base station in Alesjaure, Sweden, I could not imagine what the team and I were about to face. As founder of Walk the Walk and the MoonWalks, I was used to walking long distances wearing just a bra. But embarking upon a marathon-length back country ski trail to fundraise for research into breast cancer would be the most exhilarating challenge I had ever taken on...

DAY ONE: Kitted out with boots, skis and snow suits, the team of 12 and I all ascended up to the Aurora sky station for a wonderful meal and a hopeful glimpse of the Northern Lights. Our guide Robert gave us a magical tour of the solar system and explained how the lights manifest themselves....but sadly the real thing was to stay a mystery. Later, a suggested 'short cut' back to our room left two of us thigh deep in snow - and slightly hysterical.

DAY TWO: Time to try out our back country skis for the first time. Emotions amongst the team ranged from scared to exhilarated - and that was all in the first hour! We set off on sledges and snowmobiles for the three-hour journey to Alesjaure, the starting point of the Arctic Marathon. Despite the temperature of about -25 °, the bright blue of the cloudless sky was breathtaking. Arriving at the base station, it was a welcome sight to see a cosy cabin, a pot belly stove and a warm pot of tea waiting for us. A few of us decided to try out the sauna. Thankfully set a little distance away from the main area, we undressed quickly and clambered into the sauna to enjoy the heavenly heat. When in Sweden do as the Swedes ... so in a moment of madness, we ran outside naked rolled ourselves in the snow, before running back into the sauna. I can personally tell you it was fantastic and if you do happen to find yourself on the Arctic Challenge it's a must! To complete an amazing day, as we made our way back to the main cabin, I looked up and was surprised to see what I thought was a plane trail. Suddenly lights shot across the sky and started to swirl around...we started to race through deep snow to the cabin screaming for the others to come out and see...it was the Northern Lights!

DAY THREE: Awaking to howling winds, and low visibility, the energy in the cabin was one of excitement and tension as we all ate a good breakfast, prepared our flasks of soup for the day and, put on our layers, ready to begin the challenge. The wind desperately tried to blow us out of our skis; the powder snow swirled around us in all directions, exposing the icy surface. After only covering 7km in five hours, we were desperate for lunch. I had been fantasising about eating my hot soup, so happily tucked in. It tasted awful. Why was everybody else enjoying theirs? I soon realised I'd mixed the two types of soup - vegetable and fruit - together. Indescribably disgusting doesn't come close...

As the weather continued to rage, our guides became concerned about our safety. They decided to call for our support snowmobiles to take us down the mountain - we would make up the distance tomorrow. But the radios didn't make contact, so a group decision was made, we decided to press on. Incredibly, we ended up covering 17km. The snowmobiles finally arrived as dark crept in and took us to a safer part of the mountain where we carried on until we reached our second camp. It had been a hard but exhilarating day, and despite feeling scared at times, all of us later agreed over a glass of wine at our celebration supper, that we were glad we'd battled on against the elements.

DAY FOUR: Blue sky and calm had returned. But the pressure was on to make up the distance from the day before and cover over 25km. As a downhill skier I thought it was going to be easy travelling up and down the forest terrain, but I was surprised to find that back country skis give a very different experience, and every hill and slope was a challenge. By 5pm we had been hard at it all day, but we were nearing our goal and the finish line - tired but proud we had really done it!

After a well-earned drink we left this beautiful wilderness, our new friends and headed onto the next part of our adventure at the Ice Hotel.

DAY FIVE: Wow. The Ice Hotel was utterly surreal, but beautiful, and having our team photos in our bras taken in in the vodka bar was a real highlight. And the reality of sleeping on ice in -7º rooms? It actually gets very cosy in those sleeping bags...

• The Arctic Marathon is taking place again next February/March 2014. For more information and to discover how you can take part, visit http://www.walkthewalk.org/Challenges/TheArcticMarathon