UVU is a pioneer in developing garments for the most extreme temperatures. These products take advantage of pinnacle fabrication to deliver high performance protection and durability for temperature extremities from +40°C to -40°C. Now, UVU is working to set another milestone in terms of body temperature regulation.
"It can be one of the most incredible, surreal and life-changing experiences an athlete will ever encounter", North Pole Marathon race director Richard Donovan said about the feeling when crossing the finish line at the most northern point in the world. Less than -45 degrees Celsius, cutting wind and ice for thousands of miles. Conditions which most of us would consider absolutely misanthropic are the stage for a marathon for some very few special people. These extraordinary athletes cooperated with us and took part in what was a milestone for the scene of ultra running and endurance sports in general.
Honoring UVU's role as pioneers in the world of ultra running and the battle against nature's greatest challenges, we supported the runners with our expertise and unique variety of running apparel. In this scenario, with the freezing cold as the inevitable opponent, one central task was clear: heat creation and preservation were mandatory in order to withstand the overwhelming cold during a race scheduled for several hours.
Obviously, accomplishing this test was very fulfilling and showed the power which passionately created and thoroughly processed functional clothing can possess. Conquering one of the world's most challenging climatic obstacles was a great experience. At the same time, it also opened up a host of new opportunities for us. Our planet has so much more to offer, there is a variety of places we considered extreme and death-threatening to human life. Now that we've proven we can overcome the ice, let's flip the script and tackle the next force of nature: the desert.
Beating these kind of boiling conditions primarily requires one thing: getting the heat under control. When we as humans are exposed to the blazing sun just for a few hours our life is at stake. Logically, we try to stay out of death zones like the Sahara desert. But, and we say this with great joy and pride, neither us nor the sportsmen and -women we support and admire, merely apply this dry logic. Their passion and drive to achieve things often incomprehensible for sceptics is not the only thing which makes them unique. This attitude also allows them to enter a state of physical and mental strength, enabling them to actually do what others consider crazy. For this reason, we want to continue to stand behind these athletes and push on not only our, but especially their development. Now, we are ready to take the next step. Body temperature and performance are the key words.
In order to take on extremes like this, we need to have the necessary knowledge about the way the body reacts to them. So what is science's view on the topic? How important is the factor body temperature when we talk about optimal performance? Well, after undertaking some research, one can be sure: it's pivotal.
A study applied in 2010 by US sports medic E. Randy Eichner gives an interesting overview of the relation between body temperature and performance. According to his findings, a high body core temperature is the key for exhaustion during exercise in the heat. So: whenever our body temperature rises to a certain point, we can't perform anymore. Eichner furthermore suggests that keeping the body core temperature low in time for the start is a promising way to prolong endurance capability before reaching exhaustion.
The body constantly strives for a stable body temperature, meaning 37 degrees Celsius. Whenever exterior conditions alter this stable state, it takes action by producing sweat to cool down or, in order to create warmth, it starts shivering. Both of these measures require energy. Energy that can't be put into performance. Therefore, Eichner's colleagues from the University of Connecticut took a look at the energy side of thermoregulation. For them, it's not only about pushing out the point of exhaustion, but also about saving energy. If athlete's were able to take on part of the burden of thermoregulation, the body could focus on freeing up this energy for performance. And here, innovation and gear come into play.
Various manufacturers have already attempted controlling athlete's body thermoregulation. At the Eurobike Show Polartec introduced a breathable and cooling textile made up of knitted hydrophilic and hydrophobic fibres, giving an idea of what could be possible. Bioracer, specialized in cycling apparel, tried out an interesting version of water cooling: the Intercooler Top resembled something similar to a wet towel. They would soak the breathable top in ice water and wear it until it started to dry out, then repeat the process. The water was used as physical barrier to keep out heat.
Still, we want to take the development another step further. Starting off already more than five years ago, we made a promising effort material-wise. Our tops with a teflon-coated fibre were highly effective and appreciated by leading athletes. Unfortunately, the fabric was far too expensive - the price of around 100$ for one meter of material prevented the prototype from ever entering the larger market.
So how do we carry on from here? Research is key. The field of body temperature is very exciting and interesting to us and we want to continue to prove why ultra runners, trendsetters and early adopters trust in us. Therefore we expand our research in to the fields of EMF (electromagnetic radiation), IR (infrared), shield protection and a lot more things like an artificial environment to improve body health, regeneration and physical strength. UVU is pushing the research and work on new garment solutions, to prepare you for the next race, the next challenge - the next step in your life.