Monday, February 16, 2009

Jarom Thurston USA/Brazil

(a quick update on my condition from the BR135 & AH 135 mile Ultra Marathons back-to-back)

I just got back from Brazil the end of January after running the BR135 for the second year in a row (but this time in a conservative 56 hours) and then had only eight days to get back to run the Arrowhead 135 in International Falls, Minnesota. The race started Monday Feb 2nd and finished Wednesday night the 4th. I'm back in Utah now but miss the Brazilian summer weather!

I ran a great race for over 30+ hours, but unfortunately had to make the tough decision to drop out at mile 90 (sad but true). The hardest thing was the fact that I was leading the race from about mile 75 to mile 90 and by over two hours from the 2nd and 3rd runners, but I was seriously too affraid for my life and safety. This race is VERY VERY dangerous as it's a race with very little support, you must be self-supported and there's only two check points/aid stations both in the first half of the race...the second half, about the last 60 miles there's no support and temps reached -15F degree the first night and I struggled to get through it....the second night reached -34F (ouch) and I knew I would have a difficult (and unsafe) time if I continued on alone for the second night w/o more support going on no sleep.

This was my first ever attempt at a winter race/ultra event and I was discovering that there's a big difference from other warmer climate ultras. So I stopped, despite being in the lead, at mile 90, just before the sun went down on the second day. After waiting for two hours for snowmobiles I finally saw the 2nd and 3rd place runners catching up to me as I was heading backwards on the course towards Highway 23 (where I knew if the snowmobilers would be back for hours I might be able to flag down a car for a ride). I congratulated the two runners and told them I was not going to continue on any farther and wished my best in their efforts to finish the race. About 3 miles back I was able to find a ride with the father of one of the two Naval Academy athletes and spent the night in their cabin at Mel George's on Elephant Lake.

There were two of my brazilian friends who came to run it too. One dropped out after 18 miles the other miraculously recovered from hypothermia the first night and continued on to finish in 58 hours!!! He had tried running this race last year (2008) and almost lost his feet to frostbite by the first checkpoint, but came back to try again and DID IT! (Way to go Marcio Villar) The course record holder had dropped out about 52 miles into the race. Even the Race Director, who runs it every year abandoned the race at the second checkpoint!!!
The whole event was filmed and recored by a Brazilian TV News crew (Globo TV) and will air soon so I'll have to send you a link to it to watch when it's available online. (But in Portuguese, sorry.)

On the race site blog and they mentioned my foot. I did have some pain in my right ankle from the BR135 the week prior but that wasn't why I dropped out. The main reason was that for the first time in an ultra marathon I was affraid for my life and safety if I were to continue on a second night w/o support and sleep in those conditions. Pulling a 30lb sled of equipment, water, food and clothes in the snow after 135 miles in the Brazilian mountains just a week before was proving too much. I underestimated this race and was NOT mentally prepared to be fully self-sufficient out there 2 days and two nights. So I played it safe and threw in the towel. I'm sure running the BR135 one week prior didn't help my chances either, as I was very much still recovering from that extreme challenge too.

Jarom Thurston -

Link to Jarom's Blog


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