For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I wanted to say a little something about why i choose the events i do - after all there are literally thousands and thousands of what i'm sure are high quality events out there.  Even after trimming the list based on proximity to good old Grand Forks, cost vs. value, and how well it fits into my calendar, there are still dozens to choose from.  And since I only do a handful (one or two) big ones a year, thats a tough choice. Here's how I zero in and decide what efforts are worth applying my training to:

First, it's gotta be something new - i will hardly ever repeat an event.  Part of me loves suffering, particularly when its tied to some unknown quantity.  I pretty much know how much i'm going to suffer on a road marathon.  I've done it.  I've finished.  Lets try something else.

Secondly, I like it to be HARD - the harder the better.  I prefer to be able to legitimately ask the question - "will i be able to do it?  Can i even finish?"  And so while i've yet to do a proper Ironman race (i did the first ever off road ironman back in 2003) and choosing to do one would satisfy the first criteria - the second one wouldn't really apply.  It would be replaced with "can i finish in such and such a time?"  While i'll occasionally choose to train for and do something that asks this latter question, i find more satisfaction when i can ask the former ones.

If the first two criteria are satisfied (and they often are), i decide based on attrition.  I like events where most people don't finish.  Why?  well its pretty obvious - if I finish and most people haven't, then i get to pretend i'm a super bad ass for a little while.  If I don't finish and most people haven't, then i'm pretty sure i'm in great company (after all - if the race is so tough that most people who enter don't succeed, then the caliber of people who enter in the first place tends to be quite high).  It's pretty hard to be truly disappointed in the outcome when you test yourself against such a challenge, and i really don't like being disappointed.
hopefully my name will be on this list next year....
That brings me to my current goal - the Frozen Otter Ultra Trek.  In doing a bit of digging into the race, i've found that only six people (three men and three women) have ever finished the full course.  And just who are these folks, the 'frozen few' as they call them?

There's Brad Birkholz and Julie Treder who share the course record (tie) and were the only two finishers last year.  Brad is an ultramarathoner with 56 races in the last 7 years (thats about 8 Ultras a year!) and Julie is every bit his equal - ranked among the top 20% of female ultra runners in the country with over 12 independent ultras logged in 2011 alone.  Then there's Anthony Leiton, experienced adventure racer and 7 times Ironman triathlete, with several performances under 12 hours.  And Robin Grapa, who in 2006 hiked over 5100 miles across America as a fundraiser for Aplastic Anemia research.  Brian Pfister, who will race again this year, is also an accomplished ultra runner and triathlete (although not with quite the background as Brad or Julie), and Melissa - well, she was the first ever official finisher and is likely one of those quiet and reserved tough a nails folks the midwest seems to quietly breed without fanfare.

I hope its a brutal race.  I hope the list of finishers stays small.  But of course, i hope i'm on it.

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