After communicating with race organizers and directors, this year’s infamous Arrowhead 135 may perhaps be even more brutal than in previous years. With the surge in fat bikes and crops of new competitive racers riding them, this slice of Minnesota masochism is the race to watch this winter for those who are willing to push all limits. (Legend has it that in past events the podium finishers drank their urine to survive the harsh conditions)
Race Directors will tell you, “the Arrowhead 135 is recognized 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. It is a human-powered Ultra Marathon taking place in the coldest part of winter in the coldest city in the lower 48 states.” The conditions are gruelling, with reported average finish rates less than 50%, and 2014 finish rates less than 35%. Yikes! Sound like fun? Only if you like the cold, and riding or skiing for hours on end.
The event takes place over 135 miles, in and across Northern Minnesota on primitive but beautiful Arrowhead State Snowmobile Trails. The race begins near the town of Frostbite Falls and traverses Minnesota-style tundra (eh) to Tower, MN. Racers have a choice to compete via bike, XC ski, or on foot.
According to event organizers, this is the 11th year the Arrowhead 135 has taken place, beginning with only 10 participants in 2005, and with currently about 150 registered starters in 2014.
You obviously have to be in serious shape to compete: this is not for the weekend warrior who rents a fat bike for the first time.
Arrowhead 135 directors tout this as the “the coldest gosh darn race any place–even in the Arctic,” with historical average temperatures in the “-30 to -40C/F range” (holy moly). The actual Arrowhead 135 is even organized by locals who foster “the promotion of human powered ultra-endurance events,” and supporting and encouraging winter amateur endurance sports such as biking in winter, trail running, and XC skiing.
“The goal of the organization is to offer, fun, educational, yet challenging ultra-endurance event in extreme trail and weather conditions for economic and health benefit of communities in Northern Minnesota.”
This event is not just a race for bragging rights. Profits from the event benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation Charity by providing college scholarships to children of US Special Operations Soldiers killed and wounded in combat. It also donates to the charitable organizations Fall Food Shelf, and the Minnesota Safe Families, by providing short-term respite to needy children. So if you are crazy enough to brave the elements for a good cause in the dead of winter… this is the race for you my friend!
For more information contact Race Directors Ken and Jackie Krueger
You can check out their Facebook Page here.