Saturday, January 01, 2005

Welcome to Arrowhead Winter Ultra Blog

Hello,
Welcome to all fans of long distance winter endurance events. The Arrowhead Winter Ultra is our inaugural 135 mile race across the Arrowhead region of northern Minnesota. Racers may bike, run or ski on the scenic, hilly, Arrowhead State Trail on February 28th thru March 2nd, 2005.

This event is an Alaskan-style race in which all are allowed on the trail, but only mountain bikes, x-country skiers and runners will be racing. It is a wide trail groomed mainly for snowmobiles, so the participants must be careful to stay to the side if a machine should pass. We will race on Monday, Tuesday, Wed. so there will be almost nobody on the trail, much fewer snowmobilers than on the weekend. We have done a test run of this race on another busier Minnesota trail on the weekend last year. This is the first time on the Arrowhead state trail.

For many years, similar races have been done in Alaska on the Iditarod trail. The idea is really to finish, not so much a speed race. It is supposed to be a challenge just to finish. We expect about 10-15 people this year and more next year since we started advertising so late. Over the years the Alaskan race grew to be about 75 people. I have completed it several times. I wanted to create something for the locals that cannot afford to go to Alaska every year.

There will be no prize money; however, people are really respected just for participating in such a challenging event. Every finisher will receive a unique trophy. (It may even become a collectible one day). Every participant will get a t-shirt.

The Arrowhead will be a part of a group of extreme 135 mile events, including the Badwater in Death Valley. If you complete all of them in the same year, you get a special trophy.

In the future, we will also post the latest news, as well as race reports in this blog. Everyone is welcome to comment and post encouragement to the racers or ask questions and make suggestions . We will do our best to respond.

Regards,

Pierre Ostor
Race Director
Arrowhead Winter Ultra

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We spent a few days up on the Arrowhead trail last weekend between Elephant lake, Myrtle Lake and the Cook areas.

The trails are gorgeous with lots of snow and great vistas south of Orr. Saw an eagle's nest and many wolf tracks. The snowmobile trail cuts across the lake straight to the Marana’s resort on the southeast side. There are relatively cheap 3 bedroom cabins. Not fancy at all but extra bunk beds, shower and kitchen…good for the racers. There is a cute bar with food and pool tables. Not too many snowmobiles, fewer than on the North Shore trail. There is a fancy resort on Elephant Lake called Melgeorges and lots of resorts and businesses in Orr or on the other side, Pelican lake area.


We plan to go back there again a couple times to check out the trail heads in Ericsburg (Intl Falls) and Pyrla? (Tower) to figure out the best places for Pre-race and Post-race meetings.

If anyone has any suggestions for good locations, we would appreciate it.

Regards,
Cheryl Ostor
Webmaster
info@arrowheadultra.com

10:49 AM  
Blogger Poosa said...

Have really been going over the site. Nice job, very clear. My brother Chris and I are looking forward to the race. Hoping we get a bit more snow this winter. I moved here from California for some snow and so far here in Minneapolis we've probably gotten 5 inches the whole winter. Keep up the good work and we'll keep spreading the word about your great event.

Keith Kostman
Poosa is my wife...

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you notice that yesterday Embarrass, MN (near Tower)was the coldest spot in the nation? ...a record -54 degrees F!!

Tower holds the record in Minnesota at -60 degrees in 1996.

More trivia: International falls is known as the Icebox of the Nation and was the inspiration for "Frostbite Falls" in the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.

3:02 PM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

Thanks, Keith and Poosa.
Please stop by and post anytime.

Pierre & Cheryl Ostor
Race Director and Webmaster
info@arrowheadultra.com

3:12 PM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

We receive some good questions from a reader:

1. How do participants get back to the start or is the race a loop?

It is a one way race from Int'l Falls to Tower, MN. If some people need to get back to Int'l Falls to pickup their cars, etc. we will work something out. We will have a van and rent a trailer if necessary to haul people around. We will also have a cabin Midway or people could park near the finish and we could arrange to get people to the start.

We will go up to the trail this weekend to finalize those plans and the location for the pre-race/post-race meetings and I will let you know.

2.Regarding sharing a tent or cooking gear--

Each person must have all the mandatory gear, no sharing for weight requirement purposes. You may help other participants and share stuff on the trail, but you each need bivy sacs or a tent in case you get separated from each other. You each need the means to make water, too. This is for your own safety. If you have extra cooking gear you want to bring you can share that.

Regards,
Pierre Ostor
Race Director

12:36 PM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

Following are answers to some more questions from readers:

1. Each entrant picks only one discipline (Bike, Run or Ski) and sticks with it the whole race. Each individual does the whole 135 miles. You can decide at the last minute which you want to do based on the trail conditions, weather, etc. We will not cancel the race for weather.


2. This is an adventure race for time, but finishing and safety are more important so we only award finishing the whole 135 miles within 60 hours. For posterity, we will keep track of entrant times, ages and we will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place overall and in each category of Bike, Run or Ski. Also, we will have a separate category for women. We do not expect enough people to have age categories this year. There are no prizes other than that all finishers receive trophies. The most important thing is finishing the race within 60 hours which is difficult for runners, less so for bikers and skiers when the weather is cold who will probably finish in a little over a day. However, if there is a snow storm or soft trails, then bikers can have a really tough time.


3.Only individuals may enter, no relay teams. The buddy system is encouraged for fun and safety reasons. Participants are encouraged to run in groups and are allowed to help each other, but no official teams are entered. You can go it completely alone if you want.

4. We will have race coordinators on snowmobiles on the front and back of the race with signs to warn other snowmobiles to slow down. They will watch for participants who drop out, but ultimately, each entrant is self-supported. You must take responsibility for your own safety under extreme conditions.




I hope that answers your questions.

Regards,
Pierre Ostor
Race Director

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question from a runner's point of view...and this question has plagued me in the past as I've considered the Alaska race:

Let's assume that I use a pulk (a sled that is towed behind me) to carry my gear during the race. What would a runner do if trail conditions are not completely snowy at the time of the race? Under normal snowy conditions, I would expect that there might be various road/sidewalk crossings somewhere along the trail where I would encounter a short section of pulling the pulk over an area that is not snow covered. However, I imagine that a pulk would not slide too well along the trail IF snow conditions are less than ideal.

Would the above scenario require that a runner carry mandatory gear in a backpack?

Perhaps anyone who has experienced the Alaska race might like to chime in on this. I assume that it's been a non-issue due to the massive amounts of snow they receive each year in Alaska.

Thanks for any thoughts that you have on this topic.

11:01 AM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

Good question- Yes, this can happen on occasion, even in Alaska, to encounter bare spots.

For this purpose, I have installed aluminum runners under my sled. I did it myself and it works well. I will see if I can post a photo of it for you. I am an ultra runner, too, and I have run the Alaskan Susitna 100 in 2004. I will go back there again this year. I have also done the Iditasport 350 mile extreme on bike.

regards,
Pierre Ostor
Race Director

2:25 PM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

To the readers that are interested in trail conditions and snow depths:

Check the links on our website to the DNR trail conditions and weather. They both show snow depths. Recently, it has been 18-36 inches in the area and 6 to 10 inches on the groomed trail itself. The DNR updates it at least weekly and they groom the trail twice per week.


We rode the trail the past few weeks it was great as we had really cold weather, below zero, except Sunday it was melting and the snow was soft, tough for biking.

We will go back up there again next weekend to check out the trail. Below are the links to International Falls. You can try other nearby towns, such as Orr, Cook, Tower, Babbit, Ely or Embarrass.


http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/trails.html?facility_id=4095


http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/current_conditions/index.html?forward=/current_conditions/index.html&path=/&station=INTL%20FALLS&

regards,

Pierre Ostor
Race Director
info@arrowheadultra.com
http://www.arrowheadultra.com

8:43 PM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

The low temperature was -29F in Embarrass, MN (near Tower) today!

It is warming up a little but will still be below freezing this week during the day and below zero at night. A little snow is expected too.

There is about 18 to 20 inches of snow near the trail. The trail base is 3 to 6 inches and well groomed.


regards,
Cheryl Ostor

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I were looking forward to doing this race and we were both training for it every chance we received and then we found out that you both need mandatory gear I understand the safety issue posed about getting seperated but two of everything when your a couple and you both know that when you are a team you never get seperated no matter what even under adverse conditions, made us make a hard decision not to be able to do this race because we don't have the funds to have two of everything. Why not have a diclaimer sheet for those who really want to do the race but want to share stating that they are the responsible individuals if anything should go wrong. I understand there needs to be safety standards but we were so bummed about this.

9:11 AM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

Sorry, to hear about that. I do have an extra tent and stove that you can use. I bet others would be willing to lend you some equipment as well.

It is important to have the gear in case one person cannot go any further and the other goes for help. Also, to make it fair, everyone must carry the weight. It is a solo event, not a team competition. You will need the same equipment if you do similar races in Alaska.

Regards,
Pierre Ostor
Race Director

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way Pierre... what the heck is... A seperate catagory for Women???? I'm sorry Pierre but give me the chance to ride a bike with you ONE DAY... I don't think WOMEN need a SEPERATE catagory... we are all EQUAL! You have totally gone beyond any ethics and have really hurt yourself in putting that in your catagory line. What were you thinking??? This is 2005 Pierre not 1925 get it right. I'm an avid outdoors woman and any woman that is would take that comment a little to heart because I like to be put in the SAME catagory as everyone else out there!

9:19 AM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

Glad to see you guys are reading the blog. If it is unclear, sorry, but I, the webmaster, am responsible for the wording. If you would like me to change somethng that is inaccurate, please send me an email directly and I would be glad to oblige.

Let me clarify:
The rules for this race are the same as for other similar races in Alaska. Everyone starts together and runs on the same trail. There is an Overall category, Men's, Women's, Bike, Run,and Ski categories. We don't have enough people for an age category.
There is no special prize for anyone. Everyone who finishes receives the same trophy. The women's category is just meant to give the first women extra recognition besides the overall placement for posterity.

Regards,
Cheryl Ostor
Webmaster
info@arrowheadultra.com

12:18 PM  
Blogger red squirrel (m evingson) said...

looking forward to monday morning and the start of this long tour of the northland. looking even more forward to tuesday afternoon when hopefully this long tour for me will be over ! curious, what is the breakdown thus far of the registered participants (freaks...) and their chosen mode of travel; how many skiers, walkers and bikers ?

11:08 AM  
Blogger ArrowheadUltra said...

Our policy is don't ask, don't tell, so we won't really know until the last minute.;)

However, I believe we have mostly bikers, but some people are multi-talented, a couple skiers who are also bikers and at least one hiker for sure. There are a couple people we have never met so who knows?

(The Birkie race is also this weekend so many skiers said they must wait until next year to do the Arrowhead).

11:51 AM  

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