Ultra endurance events don’t come much tougher than the Arrowhead 135, but the race through northern Minnesota during the cold of winter wasn’t too daunting to stop Michael McDuffie.
McDuffie, a Medford resident and trail-runner with the Trail Animals Running Club, hauled his sled through the snow from Jan. 25-27 and completed the race in 57 hours and 52 minutes, just a few hours under the 60-hour time limit.
Minnesota residents Jim Reed and Scott Hoberg tied for first in 37 hours, 20 minutes.
The race goes along the 135-mile Arrowhead State Snowmobile Trail from International Falls, Minn., to Tower, Minn.
This wasn’t McDuffie’s first attempt at Arrowhead. He toed the starting line at the 2015 race and made it through 75 miles in 32 hours before pulling the plug.
He returned for 2016 experienced and better prepared for a race that’s far less about running and more about a steady walk, mental strength, and a willingness to endure whatever the elements present.
Fifty-five people started the race in the on-foot category. Barely half finished. McDuffie placed 24th overall out of 28 finishers on foot.
Other categories of competition at the 12th annual event included on skis and on bike.
Editor’s note: McDuffie was interviewed by the DFL Ultrarunning Podcast about his experience at Arrowhead 135. He is featured on Episode 62. Listen to it here.