ARROWHEAD 135 Jan 31 to Feb 2 2011
The day started at -9 degrees and cloudy and it was reported that the temp got down to -14 just after sunrise. A big crowd at the start in town. Bikes went out first with the skiers and runners a minute later. The first 18 miles are very flat so the miles go by pretty easily, was able to run most of the way to the Hwy 53 crossing at mile 18. I was the first one on foot to cross at 11:50 AM. The next 17 miles start getting a little hilly but not bad. I walked most of the way except for running the down hills. Ate some on the trail as I walked. About 2 miles from Gateway John Storkamp (another walker and eventual winner) caught me and we talked for a while. Mike Stattleman (on skies) had caught me about 5 miles earlier. Got to Gateway checkpoint (mile 35) at 3:45PM and stayed for 1:15. Was longer than I wanted to stay but was trying to get my gear to dry. I had but on shoe covers over my Gore-Tex trail shoes at the start and at the checkpoint noticed my feet were soaking wet. I was able to change socks but already was starting to get some blisters. I had some warm food to eat and then back out onto the trail. The next miles the hills get a little steeper and more frequent but still not bad. I was really going thru headlamp batteries, I didn’t know if my light was bad or if it was the cold but a set of batteries was only lasting 2 1/2 or 3 hours and I was expecting them to last 5 or 6 hours and had brought enough batteries accordingly. At this rate I wasn’t going to have enough batteries. I reached the Black duck shelter at mile 58 at midnight. They had a fire going so I warmed up at the fire for a little bit than crawled into the bivy and slept till about 4AM. I had considered going on to Mel georges which I did the first year I did the race,(another 4 hours if able to maintain pace.) but for me I felt it would wear me out so much It would put me in the position where I might not be able to continue beyond that point. Was fairly warm in the sleeping bag but again I had picked rough ground to lie on and my hips were uncomfortable. I need a better sleeping pad. I also have to remember to NOT double knot my shoes, when I went to take them off (at a temp of -20) the knots were frozen and my hands were numb and I had a hell of a time getting them untied and then took a long time to warm my hands again. After a few hours of fitful sleep I got up and hit the trail again, feeling much better. It didn’t seem like many people slept at the shelter this year. Matt Maxwell had left just ahead of me and there was only 1 biker still there when I left. It was a reported -25 to -30 below that night while I was out on the trail. I got to Mel Georges checkpoint mile 72 at 8:45AM.I had caught up to Mike S and Matt M while crossing the lake. Got some food to eat and dried a few of my clothes and was out on the trail again by 9:50 AM. The next part of the trail is really nice. The sun was out and it felt warm despite barely getting above 0 all day and it’s just a pretty trail. The next checkpoint is a long 55 miles away and I had already covered 14 miles this morning so it makes for a long day. Night fall comes and I’m still 25 miles from the final checkpoint and this is where the trail really starts to get tough. The hills are relentless, up and down continuously. These are the hills that are so steep that last year it was scary to ski down them in the dark so I would take off my skies and walk down. I sure was glad that I had decided to bring ski poles with this year, they’re a big help on the hills. After a very long and tough day I reached Crescent checkpoint at 1:15 AM. I had been going strong for about 21 hours. For my headlamps I had figured out that if I kept them in my pockets next to my skin where it was warm the batteries were lasting the expected 5 or 6 hours. Although I was still short on batteries I was hoping I could buy some at the checkpoint otherwise I was going to have to wait till sunrise to leave the check point. It was approaching -20 degrees again and I was glad that the checkpoint was inside. Last year the bar that is the checkpoint was only open till 1AM so we had to sleep outside, at least this year we could be inside. When I got into the checkpoint they had a funky rule that you could only lay down and sleep for an hour, if you wanted to sleep longer than that you had to bivy outside. Well I got my hour of sleep on the floor (Its amazing where you can sleep when really tired I had layed down on the bare floor with only a rolled up shirt for a pillow and before I knew it I was being shook awake, my hour was up.)and spent a few hours eating, drying shoes and clothes and resting and then left at 5:40 AM. Back out into the cold. A snowmobile patrol told me he had heard reports that it was -35 to -40 that morning. Was having a heck of a time keeping my hands warm, as I type this it’s hard because all my finger tips are numb. The trail to the finish is 21 miles of mostly flat Black spruce bog. It seems like you are on a high mountain plateau. I had gotten a good rest at the checkpoint and felt like I was really moving along, although for awhile I think I was sleeping walking. The sun was out again and it felt good on your face. Reached the finish line at 12:23 PM. Total time of 53 hours and 23minutes and 8th place in the foot category.
On foot 18 finishers of 54 starters
On bike 39 finishers of 59 starters
On ski's 0 finishers of 7 starters
OVERALL AVERAGE SPEED 23.7 MINUTES PER MILE = 2.5 MPH
AVERAGE SPEED WHEN SUBTRACTING 9.5 HOURS SPENT AT BIVY AND AT CHECKPOINTS= 19.5 MINUTES PER MILE or 3 MPH