Known as one of the most difficult winter races on the planet, the Arrowhead Ultra brings people far and wide to tackle 135 miles across the frozen tundra of northern Minnesota. The race hosts 3 disciples: hikers, skiers and fat bikers. Each participant will have 3 checkpoints to reach, but outside of those, you are completely on your own. What to Know
Name Arrowhead Ultra
Date Monday, January 26th-28th
Year 11th
Length 135 miles
Vertical 6,500ft
Start International Falls, MN
Finish Tower, MN
Description Groomed track on the Arrowhead Trail.
Race Director(s) Ken and Jackie Krueger
Records Todd McFadden: 14h 20m & Eszter Horanyi: 18h 18m
  Details Starting in International Falls, Minnesota, the Arrowhead trail heads southwest for 10 miles before heading west and eventually southwest for the majority of the route. The Arrowhead Trail starts out relatively flat for the first 30 miles before the route starts to take on short but difficult climbs. The route travels through the heart of the Kabetogama State Forest, over frozen streams,  marsh land, deep timber, and desolate track. The cold conditions in the winter usually make this route much more attainable than in the summer months.
Arrowhead ultra
(Photo/Jeremy Kershaw / 2012 Arrowhead ultra
Racers will be kindly greeted to 3 mandatory checkpoints along the Course. The Gateway Store – 35 miles in, MelGeorges Elephant Lake – 70 miles in, and SkiPulk tent – 111 miles in. Each checkpoint will have food and water for racers, and an area to rest up. Maybe the most important factor of the race and any race of this nature is the weather and track conditions. Past years have seen warm and wet conditions, while a year like last year with -40 degree windchill values can break racers down, mentally and physically. This year looks to be another warm year, with possible soft conditions as temperatures will be above freezing on Friday, a few days before the race. It looks like the weather should play a factor in the 2015 race.   Rules Like many ultra races of its kind, participants are completely on their own outside of the checkpoints. At checkpoints they can say hello to family, re-up on food and water, and even sit and rest. Racers will go through what is known to many as the most strict gear check in all of the winter ultras. Required gear such as -20 degree sleeping bag, isulated sleeping pad, stove, fuel, and 3000 calories are to start, and most importantly, finish with you. Ken and Jackie are very serious about these items and your safety, and if you ever participate in this event you should be prepared for this. Mandatory checkpoint sign in’s are also a big part of the race. Not only does it keep track of the racers, but race officials do a one over to make sure participants are not hypothermic, or succumbing to frost bite. Racers will have to finish the course in  60 hours, or by 7pm on Wednesday, at the Fortune Bay Casino.   Past Races/Records
Arrowhead ultra
(Photo/arrowheadultra.con) 2010 podium
  • 2010 was an exciting year with Jeff Oatley first to finish, just seconds before Pete Bassinger and David Pramann. Janice Tower took the woman’s win and coures record that year with a time of 20h 46m.
  • In 2011 it was the Jeff Oatley and the Heather Best show as they both took home course records of 15h 50m and 20h 14m respectively.
  • 2012 was another exciting finish with Kevin Breitenbach beating out Tim Berntson by a wheels width. Eszter Horanyi broke the women’s course record by 2 hours with a time of 18h 18m.
  • 2013 was a year to remember with the leaders beating out the soft and snowy conditions while the middle and back of the pack were slowed down to a crawl. Todd McFadden beat out Jeff Oatley by 30 minutes with blazing fast time of 14h 20m and a new and current course record.
  • 2014 historically had some of the coldest conditions and it’s proved to be one of the slowest years on record. 84 racers participated, 54 of them failed to complete the race while only 30 finished. The Petervary’s took the wins with Jay finishing in 20h 11m, and Tracy coming in at 5th overall with a time of 27h 22m.
  2015 should create another interesting and entertaining story line with 89 racers taking to the start line in International Falls. The field is also stacked with some extremely fast riders and past winners. Kevin Breitenbach, Tim Berntson, Todd McFadden, and Jay Petervary among others who will battle for a spot on the podium. The women’s race should also be very interesting with Tracey Petervary, and Sveta Vold. We wish everyone a safe and successful race, and remember to have fun out there. For updated checkpoint times tune into their website… The race directors have also decided to do a Beta run on Trackleaders this year, follow along as some of the racers will be using this feature.  

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