With less than 2 weeks to go, the Arrowhead Ultra 135 is always lurking close in my mind. I thought I'd toss down some pre-race thoughts. The race started for me well over 2 years ago when I came across a race in northern WI called the Tuscobia 75. I thought my son, Chris, would find it interesting so we emailed back and forth a bit on it. I let it drop out of my mind when we discovered that each racer had to to carry about 25 lbs of winter survival gear with them...that just didn't sound like fun, or necessary, plus I didn't want to spend more money on specialized gear for another activity.
Chris didn't let it die and he decided to look into it and did the race in 2010...only by then it was 75 or 150 miles, he decided to do 150. I was stuck in an airport in Paris when he did the race, so wasn't able to witness his 60 some hr. slog. But, 6 weeks later I went up to International Falls, MN. to observe the ARU that he had signed up for.
Over the past year, after I went up to watch my son in the Arrowhead 135 foot division, I've been scheming, planning and training for it. Maybe I'm figuring all wrong, but I think it's entirely possible to xc-skate ski it without it being a death march...and freezing to death.
The big, SUPER big variable is the weather. Temps can be severe. Skiing is impossible if one can't wax skis correctly to temperatures. The trail is a snowmobile trial, so it's not groomed for skiing. What if 6" of snow falls, what if it's -20, -30, -40 degrees F, what if there is all of this and a 30-40 mile northwind?
Based on my past 10 years plus of xc-skiing and the way the course is laid out, I think a person can ski to the first check point, 35 miles from the start, and wax his/her skis. This is tricky, as one has to carry ALL the gear needed, so that would mean ski wax and source of heat to work the wax into the skis. I believe I have this figured out...more on that after the race.
Then, saddle up and ski another 35 miles to the 2nd check point. How long will this take? Conditions will dictate that, but I would hope to be there in 12-15 hrs. I'd wax up again and catch some sleep. How much will be determined by the temperatures. If it's too cold to ski somewhat efficiently that would mean till morning sometime. If the temps are agreeable (as well as my body), less time at this check point would be needed.
Day 2 is a repeat of the first day.
Some training shots from a 3 hr. ski. Flambeau Hills. A 3 hour out and back. Around 15 miles.