It was -24 in International Falls, Minn., this morning when 135 or so people started the Arrowhead 135, the race in which people bicycle, ski, or run their way to Fortune Bay.
This is serious wilderness work. “Arrowhead is about you, the wilderness, your inner dogged spirit and self-sufficiency,” the race rules say, while pointing out that even camera crews aren’t allowed to follow anyone via snowmobile except within a mile of checkpoints along the way.
The racers have to be off the course by 9 p.m. tonight, and will return tomorrow before finishing at Fortune Bay on Wednesday night.
Most of the participants are biking. It took 3 hours, 46 minutes for the leader — Jay Petervary of Idaho — to reach the first checkpoint — the Gateway Store — 35 miles away. Only two people — both from Canada — are skiing the race this year.
Despite the temperature today, this isn’t close to being among the coldest races. In 2011, it was -42.
For the record, schools in International Falls were open today after a two-hour delayed start.