Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Jeff Rock's 2016 Arrowhead 135 Recap......

I just want to take a minute to thank all my friends and family. Your well wishes kept me going long after I probably should have pulled the plug. Upon leaving check point 2 (mile75) I was unable to hold down food or drink. That started a LONG downward spiral which ultimately lead to my demise. Considering I wanted to quit long before mile 75, making it to mile 105 or so was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
Being unable to fuel the furnace is not a good combination when you need to continue to expend energy. Then throw in dropping temps it starts to get a little dangerous. At mile 98 after throwing up all day I tried to wait it out and see if I could somehow recover a bit. I crawled into my bivy and slept for about an hour. (I use the term slept loosely!) I may have fallen asleep very briefly only to be woken by uncontrollable coughing that turned into puking. Fun huh?! I had no choice but pack back up and to push on. Finally at 3 am my race was over. I took the ride of shame the last 4.5 miles to the final check point. 104 miles pulling 42lbs feels like failure. In reality I know I gave it my all.
My pride is a bit wounded, but I will survive.

The Arrowhead 135 is listed as one of  "The World's Toughest Endurance Challenges". Jeff Rock, although unable to finish, won.

 I do not know Daryl Saari, but it would be an honor to meet the man. The Arrowhead 135 offers no safe haven. It is 35 miles or so between checkpoints. One way or another, the race is always brutal. Temperatures can dip to -40 and if race day temp's are in the teens or low twenties, you get fresh and or soft snow which offers it's own unique challenges. If things go sideways you are instructed to figure it out, press on or turn back. Race director Ken Krueger makes it clear. If it's not a medical emergency, we are not coming to get you. The race t-shirt says all you need to know. ARROWHEAD 135 STRENGTH/ENDURANCE/SOLITUDE/SURVIVAL "COWARDS WON'T SHOW AND THE WEAK SHALL PERISH" Daryl Saari pulled his 40 plus pound sled for all 135 miles, crossing the finish line in 60 Hours and 13 Minutes. To be awarded an official finish, racers must finish in 60 Hours. He missed his mark by a mere 780 seconds. A DNF? Nope, just a "Did Not Finish In Time."

The toughest of the tough however, goes to female fat bike racer Sveta Vold. Imagine taking on a race of this magnitude just two months after having a baby. The Arrowhead takes even the fastest of bikers nearly 24 hours to complete. This presented a unique and I'm pretty sure, first of it's kind problem at The Arrowhead. Sveta had to figure out how, when and where she could either pump or breast feed her two month old. By races end, just over 31 hours without sleep, she had stopped 7 different times to take care of her "feeding" duties. Her entire story, was featured by "TODAY". Sveta finished third in the women's field. Simply AMAZING!

Ultra means many different things to many different people.To me, it simply means pushing beyond what you think you are capable. Do you have doubts that after all these years, that you can finish the local 5k? I'm here to tell you that you can. Whatever you believe may not be possible due to your particular situation, someone, somewhere, in the exact same situation is doing it. Jeff Rock, Daryl Saari and Sveta Vold are not super athletes, no more or less gifted than you or I and that is what makes their stories so beautiful, so inspiring, so REAL. They teach us that if there is a will, however cliche it may sound, there is a way. The 'winning' is in the effort. The winning is in being able to look yourself in the mirror and know that you gave it a go. It has been said that we have no obligation to be any better than anyone else, only to be better than we ever thought we could be. 

Here's to YOU in 2016!! 

1 comment:

  1. I have made respect for all Arrowhead competitors, whether by foot, ski or bike. I entered Tuscobia this year to qualify for Arrowhead next year on a fat bike. The idea was figure winter endurance all out before taking on the middle topography hell of Arrowhead. The overnight temps dropped to -15°. I finished. It took over 25 hours, but darn it I finished. Arrowhead was the goal and nothing was going to stop me.

    Unfortunately my reward at the finish line was frostbite. A good case of it on all ten toes. I ended up spending three days at a burn trauma center when I got home for treatment. The good news is I am keeping all of my toes. I had plenty of time to think about my rookie tactical errors. The main culprit was not changing my socks. I somehow convinced myself my feet were dry. The lids to my water bottles froze 40 miles from the finish (7 hours of riding). Little did I know through ignorance dehydration accelerate frostbite.

    Because I have concerns of getting frostbite again and not being so fortunate the second time, Tuscobia was my first and will be my last winter ultra. There will be no Arrowhead for this guy. But, I will live vicariously through the warriors who take it on every year and admire your spirit.

    I share this story not to detour anyone from doing Arrowhead or similar winter ultras. They are great events done by great people. I just give advice as a frostbite advocate to new comers and vets to be cognitive or your bodies warning signs and take the time at check points to check for moisture. I took frostbite very seriously going into this event but unfortunately I had my mind focus on other thoughts to block out bordum. It is a successful tactic I use in the three other seasons for ultras but it can have extreme consequences for winter ultras.