Tips for Skiing the Canada Ski Marathon


From: Parham Momtahan <>



If you are trying to find out more about the Candian Ski Marathon

take a look at:



I finished in the Coureurs de Bois Gold (1 Bar, i.e. second time)

and although I found the event more challenging than last

year I did not find it as brutal as say 92. I had no injuries,

no frost bites, no equipment breakdowns. So I was fortunate indeed, but

hopefully also a little prepared after many years of attempting

the event (it took me 7 tries before I did my Couruer de Bois

Bronze :-)


Some tips from my school of hard knocks:

- Pre-train by doing cycling, paddling, gym work etc, starting

in September or earlier. One of the reasons I do this event is

that it motivates me to keep fit.

- Train at least 400 kms on skis (do a mixture of 20-40 km

training runs)

- Train enough so that you know your own pace. One of the

surest ways to burn out in the Marathon is to go at

someone else's fast or slow pace. Going at someone else's

slow pace will make you more tired over 170 km and will likely

put you under time pressure with negative attitude consequences.

- Train under all weather conditions, especically seek out very

cold days (~-30c) and go for at least 40 kms in a short loop. In this

way you learn your equipment and your own cold weather limits

and adjustments in training without undue risk.

- If you are going for the Coureur de Bois Gold, don't go

overboard with weight. This year I started with a 20 lb pack.

Although the camping at below -30c could have been a bit warmer if I

had taken more weight (e.g. a bivouac cover) I still found

it serviceable :-) And I did not have a mass of weight to

tire me out and throw me off my balance. However, do take a

REALLY GOOD sleeping bag, a down jacket, and down booties with covers.

- Put moleskins on pressure areas of your foot when you start

out and before you get blisters.

- Drink more than you want, eat more than you need.

- Carry spare gloves/mits, socks, hats and change them as they get

soaked and iced. Take ski boot over-booties. Take Gortex over-mits.

- If it's cold, like it was this year, but vaseline on your face

hands, and feet. Wear a balaclava.

- On the downhill runs, if you are carrying a pack especially, be

a little more conservative than in your training. Use the double

side poll technique for breaking so that your speed does not get

out of control. Every fall costs time and more importantly

self confidence and warmth.

- Test out all your equipment before the Marathon. I try to become

"good friends" with all my equipment at least by two weeks before

the Marathon.

- Have a positive attitude. Try to remember that you are doing this

for recreation. Try to enjoy the travel as much as the finish. I

take a few "spiritual breaks" when I stop at some of my

favourite vistas (typically in sections 3,4, and 8) and reflect on

how lucky I am to be doing the Marathon and the beauty of the vista.


It's a wonderful event especially if you

combine it with the other events of the Ottawa Winterlude, e.g.

the Keskinada loppet.


See you there next year!


Parham Momtahan