Extreme conditions at the Arrowhead Ultra 135

By Dan Stinton

My social media feeds have been filled with comments on how cold it is, how many layers are needed and whether or not to wear a hat.  Whilst sorting through my selection of hats, I also started taking a look at the conditions for the Arrowhead Ultra which began to put it all into perspective.

The Arrowhead is a 135-mile race across Northern Minnesota on rugged, scenic Arrowhead State Snowmobile Trail which took place on 28th-30th January.  Clearly, conditions are always going to be tough during this race, but this year competitors had to face the polar vortex – the mass of low-pressure cold air that sometimes splinters off from the arctic and heads south, with temperatures dipping to -35⁰C and windchills reaching nearly -50⁰C.

https://run-ultra.com/media/images/Extreme%2520Conditions%2520for%2520the%2520Arrowhead%2520Ultra%2520135/Credit-Arrowhead-copy.jpg

Photo credit: Arrowhead Ultra

Before the start of the race, you need to pick your mode of travel, with a choice of foot, ski or bike.  This year sees the 15th year of the race which has an average finish rate of less than 50% demonstrating the extent of the challenge.  The organisers state that it’s recognised in the book “The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges” by Richard Hoad and Paul Moore as “one of the 50 toughest races in the world”.

As an added twist, you can also choose to go “unsupported” which means you’re not allowed food, water, or time to warm up at checkpoints.  You can’t change your mind either, once you’re unsupported, there’s no backing down and using the facilities – its either finish unsupported or DNF.

https://run-ultra.com/media/images/Extreme%2520Conditions%2520for%2520the%2520Arrowhead%2520Ultra%2520135/Credit-Scott-Rokis.jpg

Photo credit: Scott Rokis

Unsurprisingly only 52 of the 146 competitors reached the finish line.  On bike, Jordan Wakeley finished first in 11:43:00 setting a new men’s record.  Credit to second place Neil Beltchenko who finished in 13:27:00, but also competed the race as the first unsupported men’s biker.  In total 39 bikers finished the race.

When it came to running, just 13 people finished, with Jovica Spajic and Scott Hoberg crossing the finish line in 36:09:00.  First female runner, Faye Norby, finished in 48:34:00 at the same time as the first unsupported runner, Jeff Leuwerke.  Just four people attempted the ski race and unfortunately, none of them finished.

We’ll be sure to give you a heads up when the entries open for next year!

"As an added twist, you can also choose to go unsupported which means you’re not allowed food, water, or time to warm up at checkpoints"

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Like what you read?

Click here to sign up for more

Related news

Top Reviews January 2019

Last updated: 08-Feb-19 By Luke Jarmey We’re pleased to announce our top reviews for January. So congratulations to Lucja Leonard who will receive a pack

Read More »

Latest news

Global - Virtual

Elevation

A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for

For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Elevation

An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for

Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Brutal

Elevation

Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude)

Suitable for

Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Expert

Elevation

Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat)

Suitable for

Experienced runners who have completed at least 4 ultras in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Advanced

Elevation

Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for

Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Intermediate

Elevation

Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for

Runners who have completed at least one ultra in last 6 months or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Beginner

Elevation

Very little change < 500 metres

Suitable for

First ultra event. Runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running (>26 miles) in the last 6 months.