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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brazil 135 & Arrowhead 135 in 8 days!!!

I just got back from Brazil after finishing the grueling 135 mile ultra marathon there, and a week later ran 90 miles of the 135 mile winter ultra marathon in Minnesota called the Arrowhead 135.
Here's my experience I had with the two long distance races back to back.

(a quick update on my condition from the BR135 & Arrowhead Winter 135 mile Ultra Marathons) later

I just got back from Brazil the end of January after running the BR135 again (in a conservative 56 hours) and then had only 8 days to get back to run the Arrowhead 135 in Minnesota. The race started Monday Feb 2nd and finished Wednesday night the 4th. I'm back in Utah now after the longest and toughest week in my life!

Here's a tribute video to all the runners of the BR135 2009 race!!!

I unfortunately had to make the decision to drop out at mile 90 (sad but true). The hardest thing was the fact that I was leading the race from about mile 75 to mile 90 and by over two hours from the 2nd and 3rd runners, but I was seriously too affraid for my life and safety. This race is VERY VERY dangerous as it's a race with very little support, you must be self-supported and there's only two check points/aid stations both in the first half of the race...the second half, about the last 60 miles there's no support and temps reached -15F degree the first night and I struggled to get through it....the second night reached -34F (ouch) and I knew I would have a difficult (and unsafe) time if I continued on alone for the second night w/o sleep and having no more aid stations to stop in. So I stopped, despite being in the lead, at mile 90, just before the sun went down on the second day.

There were two of my brazilian friends who came to run it too. One dropped out after 18 miles the other miraculously recovered from hypothermia the first night and continued on to finish second to last in 58 hours!!! He had tried running this race the year before and almost lost his feet to frostbite but came back to try again and DID IT! (Way to go Marcio Villar)

The course record holder who has run this race several times also dropped out, at mile 52 during the first night into the race. Even the Race Director, who runs it every year abandoned the race at the second aid station!!!

The whole event was filmed and recored by a Brazilian TV News crew (Globo TV) and aired on February 22nd nationwide on Brazil's Esporte Espectacular tv program: (But in Portuguese, sorry)

Check out the Brazil Sports TV report about the Arrowhead Ultra here:Reportagem da Arrowhead:,,GIM970678-7824-ULTRAMARATONA+DESAFIO+PARA+POUCOS+NO+GELO,00.html

Some of you may have been following along the Race site blog and they mentioned my foot. I did have some pain in my right ankle from the BR135 the prior week but that was not why I dropped out. The main reason was that for the first time in an ultra marathon I was affraid for my life had I continued on a second night w/o support and sleep in those conditions. Pulling a 30lb sled of equipment, clothing, food and water in the snow after 135 miles in the Brazilian mountains just a week before was proving too much, to say the least!

I underestimated this race and was NOT mentally prepared to be fully self-sufficient out there 2 days and two nights. So I played it safe and threw in the towel. I'm sure running the BR135 one week prior didn't help my chances either, as I was very much still recovering from that extreme challenge too.

Of 59 starters, 24 finished the Arrowhead in under 60 hours and 1 was disqualified.
26 bikers started, only 15 finished.
27 on foot, only 8 finished.
6 skiers, only 1 finished.

Here's some pictures of my two back-to-back Ultras:

(Me pointing out the highest climb of the course, Pico do Gaviao)
(At the starting line right before the race. I'm in the red shirt and sailor hat.)

(And we're off....)

(Day one still....)
(Day two.....)

(Day 3....The finishline after 56 hours. Paraisopolis, MG, Brazil.)

What a great feeling!!! You can't pay a million dollars to gain what you get from finishing such a race...priceless!

(David Walker, from New Zealand, also a BR135 2009 Finisher. David had the help of my wife Sandra on his support crew to translate Portuguese/English for him and his family who were with him the whole way.'re dad's AWESOME!!! What a tough man.)
Now only 8 days to rest up and get back to the U.S. to Minnesota for the Arrowhead 135 Winter Ultra.

(Gil from GloboTV, Marcio Villar, me...just arriving in International Falls, Minnesota. Marcio had been there for almost 2 weeks alone to train in the cold.)

(Marcio Villar, Me, Joao Sacks Prestes)

(Edson GloboTV Reporter, Tuninho GloboTV Producer, Marcio Villar runner, Gil Camera man, Joao Sacks runner, Me runner, Gary Thurston...#1 dad and athlete supporter hahaha)

(Me, Marcio, and Joao going on a quick training run to test out our clothing and sleds)

(Beginning of the Arrowhead Trail, 7:35am and it's -5F. Later that night it dropped to -15F)

(First checkpoint....about 38 miles. Here I was just heading out on the trail again to run all night by myself to Elephant Lake approx mile 75). Later the second day, before sundown at mile 90 or so I made the decision to scratch from the race. Next year I'll be back, but this time I don't think I'll be running the BR135 a week before hand...hahahaha.


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