Thursday, February 19, 2009

Frostbite Falls alumnus

Hello ,

2009 was my 3rd Arrowhead Ultra. I got initiated the hard way, during the 2007 Arrowhead Ultra, where brutal weather, poor trail conditions, and mechanical issues pushed me (as I pushed my bike for 80 miles) almost to my limits. The biggest change for 2009 was the addition of a Pugsley to my gear list (Thanks to my wife Jackie) and 2 prior finishes to boost my confidence.

During the pre-race meeting, Mike Curiak shared slides from the race in Alaska, I think I could have stayed all day and listened to stories. My Brother-in-law John made the 500+ mile drive from Wisconsin to be the finish line official and offer support. My mother in law also made the trip North to offer support and bring me her special "Arrowhead cookies". I had my gear laid out for weeks but almost forgot to pack a drop bag (which would have been OK, I could have fed a small army with the extra food I had at the finish).

I started the race at 07:14 am and finished 34 hours, 46 minutes later. The race start weather was close to perfect, the trail conditions were not. We had 3-4" fresh snow and the trail was soft, this made riding harder, especially for the athletes breaking trail in front. The race leaders have my respect and awe, the pace they set is amazing. It is nice to see all of the racers in the first couple of hours, and all the gear variations they employ.

Key memories for me from the 2009 Arrowhead Ultra are:
- The race leaders drafting early in the race
- Skiers not getting much glide
- A brat and juice at Gateway
- The leaders breaking trail, following their tire tracks when I was able
- Good soup and grilled cheese at Melgeorges, wonderful volunteers
- Wishing for more logging so the trail would be faster
- Leaving Melgeorges at 5:30 am, seeing wolf tracks in Josh and Chuck's tire tracks that were only 2 hours ahead of me.
- How long it took to get to the tee-pee and how beautiful it was.
- How flat the last 22 miles are and how far it is from Bayview to Fortune Bay
- How glad I was not to be saddle sore.
- Cold feet
- flying down hills thinking "this could be the most spectacular crash in Arrowhead history"
- Frozen thermoses
- 29 below the last night, and how tough the racers were that were still going.

In closing, the Arrowhead Ultra is a world class race with great organizers, volunteers, and racers. The memories from each race keep me looking forward to the next one. My only regret is that I don't get to know all of the people better who are involved in this great event.

See you next year,

2009 Racer #11,

Ken Krueger


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