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Monday, January 27, 2014

5 MPH speed limit

Today many of my good friends are taking on the Arrowhead 135 race, a ski, bike, or run ultramarathon in what is historically the coldest place in the continental US on what is historically the coldest average week of the year.  Most of the 150 odd participants from around the world attempt to tackle the 135 miles of snow-mobile trail through the Minnesota wilderness on bike.  Among these is Matt Burton Kelly, known as 'Beek' (ENDracing's right hand man)--one of a handful of Arrowhead first timers.

It is a bit strange not to be there with them, as I've spent 4 of the last 5 last weeks in January freezing my ass off either attempting the race on foot (failed) or challenging the clock on bike (crossed the finish line all three times, once unofficially). I've changed a flat tire at nearly 20 below, survived ambient trail temperatures as low as -40 degrees F while riding through the long night, and even endured 'the push' last year.

There is something special about races like the arrowhead - races that aren't about speed (even the fastest riders seem to be going at a joggers pace!) - races that are light on competition (everyone seems to know each other) and heavy on adventure.

So this is a shout out for those who are now several hours into this great adventure through the frozen forests and swamps;  those who will pedal and push their way up hills that feel like mountains--over and over again; those who will then careen with wild abandon (and crazy grins on their faces) down the other sides of these hills, as if they were at a local sled hill rather than the inhospitable and unforgiving places they really are. This is a shout out to those who toed and wheeled the start line at this morning, every square inch of skin covered against the bitter cold; those daring and perhaps deranged folks who started walking or pedaling towards a goal 135 miles distant, knowing that for many of them, there is a 5 MPH speed limit.


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