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27/02/2012 // INFO Leave a comment

The Arrowhead Ultramarathon – The ultimate endurance cycling challenge


Winter Endurance

They sure make them tough in Minnesota in the US. Imagine cycling in an endurance race in extreme freezing temperatures. The Arrowhead Ultramarathon, which takes place in early February each year, is just that.

The Arrowhead Ultramarathon is a 135 miles endurance race that takes place in Northern Minnesota. At 135 miles, you are probably thinking, ok its cold but 135 miles, no problem. Except you are cycling in temperatures that can get to -40 and on off-road terrain.

There is a twist to this endurance race as well. Not only are you cycling against fellow cyclists but also against runners and skiers doing the exact same course. The winner of Arrowhead 135 Ultramarathon could be a cyclist, runner or a skier, whoever gets to the finish line first. It is always a cyclist who wins though.


Entrants follow a mostly snowmobile trial route that starts in International Falls in Minnesota and ends in Tower, Minnesota. That epic route takes in deep forest before you reach your final destination. The mountain bike is the weapon of choice for cyclists.

Racers have 60 hours to complete the race, there is no support for entrants and you have to carry or pull everything you need. It can be a lonely experience; at times you won’t see a fellow competitor for hours.

Most that do enter do not even finish. Frostbite gets to most as does pure exhaustion. Skiers and runners can take up to 30 hours plus to finish the race.

The Arrowhead Ultramarathon is now in its 7th year. From just 22 entrants in its first year, the 2012 edition had to be capped to 135 participants now that’s its reputation is known around the whole world. There are many more participants on a waiting list just hoping one of the chosen few pulls out.

2012 results

This year’s race took place on January 30 with the deadline for finishing falling on February 1st. The temperature this year stayed above freezing for the whole event (last year it was -25 degrees) and this meant a number of records were broken for competing the race.

The winner for 2012 was cyclist Kevin Breitenbach with a time of 15 hours, 51 minutes and forty six seconds. Incredibly after 135 miles, he won by a width of a wheel and one second over fellow cyclist Ken Berntson. Quite astonishing.

As we said above, they make them tough up in Minnesota.

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