Runners, Bikers, and Skiers Travel 135 Miles in the Snow

It's an Extreme Race from International Falls to Tower

DULUTH, Minn.- Joe Stiller has been competing in the Arrowhead Ultra for 4 years, and says the 135 mile race is one of his favorites.

“This has a real tight family community, more than any other race that I do,” says Stiller.

The race starts in International Falls Minnesota, and Ends in Tower. Competitors pack gear like sleeping bags, extra warm coats, food, and water to help them through the race.

“You have to have survival gear with you in case you have to stay on the trail for unlimited hours, maybe until someone can come get you,” says Mark Scotch, who has competed in the race 5 times, but is volunteering this year.

This year, 85 bikers, 60 runners, 11 skiers and 1 run with a kick sled are attempting to finish.

“I did it twice on Skis cause I thought it’d be really interesting on skis and not very many people do it on skis, cause it’s not a groomed ski trail, it’s a snow mobile trail, so after I did it on skis I got a fat bike and got in to that a little bit and thought it would be fun to do on a bike as well,” says Scotch.

Some racers opted to race totally self supported. It’s a new category that was added this year.  Stiller was one of the people who stepped up to that challenge.

“I couldn’t go into any of the check points or take anything from anybody, I had to carry everything I needed, make my own water … everything off the bike,” says Stiller.

He says biking the race unsupported was the perfect way to test out some of his new gear he could be taking on future adventures.

“It takes a lot of snow to make very little water. And a lot of fuel too, I found out last night,” says Stiller.

With only half the competitors completing the race each year, the Arrowhead Ultra is a tough race. Stiller compares biking it to a woman giving birth.

“If you ask a woman after she’s given birth, the answer is, no way,” he says. “Two weeks later, Timmy or Susie needs a playmate. So, that’s what this race does to you.”

When asked if this is his last time racing, he grins.

“I’ll be back.”