You may have read about the polar vortex this week. Normally found around the north pole, the weather system recently split and moved south, bringing the coldest conditions in decades to the US Midwest. Temperatures of around minus-30 weren’t enough to prevent athletes from taking part in a 135-mile endurance race along Minnesota’s Arrowhead State Trail, however.
The Arrowhead 135 is “a human powered ultra marathon that takes place in the coldest part of winter in the coldest city in the lower 48 states,” according to the website.
Competitors can cycle, ski or undertake the route on foot. The average finish rate is less than 50 per cent.
This year wind chill at one point brought the temperature down to minus-68 Fahrenheit (-55C) and USA Today reports that 52 of the 146 participants reached the finish line this year.
This actually seems like rather a lot to us – but then we suppose the typical entrant isn’t exactly signing up on a whim.
As many as 39 out of the 80 cyclists finished.
The winner was Jordan Wakely of Grayling, Michigan, who somehow set a course record on his fat bike, finishing in 11 hours, 43 minutes.
There were many challenges beyond the simple fact that it was absolutely bloody freezing. The Timberjay reports that one runner was using a wearable water container that hung next to his chest to prevent it freezing, but the zip on his jacket froze and he couldn’t get to it.
“My breath kept dripping down and it froze my zipper solid,” he said. “I could barely squeeze any water out.”