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Arrowhead 135

Judd headed up to Minnesota again for the Arrowhead 135 at the end of January. After setting a single speed record last year of 21:05, Judd opted to race in the new unsupported class. It would be great prep for the Iditarod Trail Invitational and a new challenge. Conditions at the start looked like it could be another fast year, with cold temperatures and light snow falling. The teperatrue was supposed to stay cold, but not super cold - in the 0-10*s range. Perfect for racing.

Pre-race shake out with the Back of the Pack Racing crew.
Photo - Judd Rohwer
The race stuck together to the first checkpoint, with Judd only a few minutes off his time from 2017. Conditions were still good, but starting to deteriorate. It was getting colder, the humidity was high for winter riding. Judd kept pushing through, but his pace was slowing. Given that he was carrying twice as much weight as last year, that was expected. Matching the fast time from 2017 while racing self supported was a tall order. With the cold weather (dropping into the mid -30s) some unexpected issues with his gear appeared. Better to have those issues now then up in Alaska, but it was still a huge impact on his race.

At the start, ready to go.
 Photo Dave Sears

With the gear issues and several mechanicals, Judd made the choice to bivy at mile 99. Stop and get some rest before he started making decisions that could have a negative impact on the race and his safety. It's hard choice to stop mid-race and bivy, but sometimes the safest choice. The track usually gets fast at night from the cold, but if you aren't making rational choice, it's time to stop.

Unfortunately, it also meant that he would have to deal with weather for longer. Instead of improving, the weather had continued to deteriorate with temperatures plummeting to below -40 over night. Frostbite was a real concern for many of the racers this year. After getting going in the morning, Judd was riding into a hard wind, with sideways snow plowing across the trail. But he pushed through, continuing to make progress and finally reaching the finish.

The finish! 34:36 - and that's snow falling in the photo
Photo Dave Sears

Yes, you get a fancier arrowhead for finishing unsupported.
 Judd's report is on the Back of the Pack website - with plenty of details about the race and the conditions.

Next stop? Alaska!