135 Miles in the Nation’s Icebox - Page 2
Racers are required to carry mandatory gear that includes a sleeping bag rated to at least minus-20-degrees Fahrenheit (though a colder rating is strongly recommended), an insulated sleeping pad, a bivy sack or tent, a fire starter, a stove and pot, a consistent supply of at least eight ounces of fuel, a consistent supply of at least 3000 calories of food, approximately two liters of insulated water and a headlamp. There are three checkpoints, roughly 35 miles apart, and a total of nine shelters, from seven to 14 miles apart. Drop bags with non-essential items are flown in via small ski plane to checkpoint locations.
To keep fees low, the event aims to break even financially. Any proceeds, however, are donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation Charity, providing college scholarships to children of US Spec Ops Soldiers killed and wounded or Minnesota Safe Families, a charity working to prevent child abuse.
New in 2013, the top runner (and cyclist) receives a free guaranteed entry into the Granddaddy of Ultras, the 2014 Iditarod Trail Invitational. The Invitational is a completely self-sufficient 350-mile foot (or bike) race from Knik Lake, Alaska, to McGrath, Alaska. Runners who finish the 350-mile race receive four points toward qualification for The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
The Arrowhead 135 is part of a small but daunting category of races covering 135 miles. The Badwater Ultra is a well-known mid-summer race across Death Valley, where temps can top 130 degrees. The Brazil 135, which took place January 17 to 18 this year, is run on a notoriously difficult Brazilian pilgrimage path and boasts approximately 30,000 feet of climbing and 28,000 feet of descending. The Badwater Ultra, the Brazil 135 and the Arrowhead 135 make up the Badwater World Cup, a challenge requiring competitors to finish all three races in the same calendar year. Few attempt, much less complete, the challenge. “One-hundred-thirty-five miles is a great distance,” says Pramann, “You cannot fake it at 135 miles.”