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Ultra-endurance race in -35C

Course records fall at Arrowhead 135 despite extreme cold

— by Anne Francis

Extreme cold did not prevent the course record from being broken at Arrowhead 135, a 135-mile (216K) ultramarathon in northern Minnesota where the CR has come down twice in the last three years, despite the daunting conditions. Jordan Wakely of Michigan won this year’s edition, which started Monday, on a bike (racers may cycle, run, ski, or use a kicksled) in 11 hours 43 minutes, despite temperatures of -35 C and colder. The previous record was 13:15.

Racers may run, bike, ski, or use a kicksled to cover the distance. They must carry survival gear, and the race has only three checkpoints. Race director Ken Krueger told KMSP-TV he’s done the race himself nine times, and that people do it because of the cold, not in spite of it. “If you get a warm year, it’s almost like you got cheated,” Krueger quipped.

Jovica Spajic of Russia was the first runner to finish, in 36:09. Scott Hoberg of Minnesota was second, also in 36:09, and Parker Rios of Wisconsin was third, in 38:23.

Faye Norby of Minnesota was the first female runner to finish, in 48:34. At the time of publication, none of the skiers, kicksledders, or other female runners had finished. There have been a number of DNF’s out of 146 starters, and the 7:00 p.m. cutoff looms for those who remain on the course.

Gregory McNeill, 49, and Artur Pich, 40, both from Manitoba, and Tom Restoule, 68, of Ontario are the only runners listed from Canada. All three have DNF’d.

For full results click here.