Feb 8, 2010


Feb 1st to the 3rd 2010

The 2010 Arrowhead 135 started in the Town of International falls this year, it was cool (-20 F) clear and calm. The skate skiing conditions were pretty good i.e. good glide. As usual at the last minute I had thrown on some extra layers of clothes and within the first hour when the sun started to come up I had to start taking off layers. Skiing was going really well and I was feeling good. At about mile 16 I took a wrong turn or more correctly I went straight when I should have gone right. This was a change in the route from last year, I was following the old trail. I only went about 1/2 a mile before a course official on snowmobile came up and corrected my mistake. Course conditions continued to be good, I occasionally took my skis off and walked for a little while to use some different muscles. At about 4:30 PM I reached the 1st check point Gateway store about 38 miles into the race. I stopped there for about an hour, Ate and drank as much as I could stomach and refilled my water bottles and back out onto the trail. Up until Gateway the trail is pretty flat after Gateway the trail starts to get pretty hilly so the pace slows considerably. I found it was worth while to conserve my energy and take my ski's off to walk the up hills and ski the flats and down hills. And in the middle of the course boy are there some hills, hills that are scary to ski down in the day, frightening to ski down in the dark and occasionally I would even WALK DOWN the hills. It was a clear night the stars were out and about 9 PM the nearly full moon rose in the east, it was a beautiful night. Finally at about 11:30 PM I reached a trail shelter (a 3 sided lean to) at 58 miles into the race and about 13 miles from the 2nd check point at Melgeorge's Resort I stopped and bivied for the night. Even though I was in the sleeping bag for about 4 hours I think I only slept for about 2 hours. My socks must have been a little damp and I couldn't get my feet warm and the ground was really rough.
I got up Tuesday morning at 4AM and was back out on the trail by 4:30 AM. The skiing was pretty poor in the mornings I think we were getting hoar frost overnight and it would ruin the glide till late morning. All my water had frozen by this point and I didn't want to stop to melt snow because I thought I would get to cold so I pushed on to Melgeorge's checkpoint #2. I got there at about 9AM and found 3 other skiers (Mike, Tim and Matt) there that had passed me during the night. I ate and drank all that I could force down again (My thanks to the volunteers there including Anne Flueckiger) and was back out onto the trail by 10:30AM. I skied and walked all day, the skiing was pretty good in the middle of the day but again the hills were really tough and I would walk up them. During the day I passed all the other skiers. About 7PM. I'd had enough skiing and put my running shoes on and went out at a whopping 3 miles per hour for the next 5 hours. Matt Maxwell (another skier) was with me most of the evening. Again the night was clear and the stars and moon were out, you could really feel the temp get colder especially when you were down in the spruce bogs. We arrived at the Tipi checkpoint at about midnight, got some hot soup at the Crescant restaurant and climbed into the sleeping bag at about 1AM.
I got up at 5AM on Wednesday and was on the trail by 5:30. The trail conditions had gotten really bad overnight (no glide at all) I would ski to get my body temp up and then would have to walk to rest because skiing was so hard. Again 2 other skiers had passed me during the night (Matt had bivied with me) and I again passed them during the day, I saw Mike S. (another skier) bivied on the side of the trail. This last 19 miles is flat the whole way twisting and turning through the biggest spruce bog I've ever seen. With about 2 miles to go you turn off the Arrowhead trail onto the hilly Fortune Bay resort spur trail and finish at the resort. I was totally exhausted since I wanted to finish while skiing and there was no glide. It felt great to finally sit in a chair in a warm environment. I only had a chance to rest for about 1/2 an hour before Anton came looking for people to fill the van for a return trip to I falls, so it was back to action loading up my gear into the van, than I found myself sitting on top a pile of gear with two bikers in the back of the van for a 2 hour trip back to I falls, the fun just never ended.
My thanks to all the volunteers and especially Pierre and Cheryl for putting on such a great event. I met a lot of other great and crazy people and had fantastic time.

Official finish time 52:47:00
Avg minutes per mile overall 23.5 = 2.5 MPH
Avg minutes per mile when you subtract time spent at checkpoints and bivy's 17.9 = 3.35 MPH

From www.arrowheadultra.com
The Arrowhead Winter Ultra is a non-profit human powered ultra marathon on bike, foot or skis, covering 135 miles across the Arrowhead Region of Northern Minnesota from International Falls near the Canadian border to Tower, MN. The course follows a scenic, hilly, State multi-purpose trail under extreme winter conditions the first Monday of February.
Completing the course is no small feat as winter temperatures in this area of Minnesota have been known to reach a record -60F degrees. No wonder the locals have dubbed their town the "Icebox of the Nation" and "Frostbite Falls".
There will be 3 checkpoints, the main one serving hot soup and water at a cabin about the midway point by Elephant Lake near the town of Orr. Otherwise, racers are fully self-supported with a cutoff time of 60 hours. Each racer is required to carry mandatory food, water and gear as outlined on the rules page to cover the 3 days and 2 nights outdoors.

Highlights-Temps at the start in 2010 were about -21F degrees, around -10F to +10F during the day and at night, dropped to -20F degrees on the trail. Of 102 starters, 60 finished the Arrowhead in less than 60 hours.
· 38 of 52 bikers finished
· 19 of 45 on foot finished
· 4 of 5 skiers finished.
· 2 of 5 women finished
Official Firsts/Lasts---
· First biker, first overall- Jeff Oatley of Alaska started 7:03 am Mon. and finished at 23:20 Mon. night for a total time of 16 hours 17 minutes.
· Bikers, Pete Basinger and David Pramann were within seconds of the first finisher for second and third place.
· First woman biker, Janice Tower of Alaska established a new course record of 26h 46 min.
· First foot, Zach Gingerich, finished at 21:02 Tuesday in 37h 59min for a new course record.
· First skier, Jim Reed arrived at 11:50am Wed. in 52h 47min.
· Youngest Finisher- Christian Arel age 17, finished on bike on Wed. on his first attempt.

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