The freeze arrived early for the TARCtic Frozen Yeti.
A polar vortex plummeted 75 percent of the continental United States into below-freezing temperatures on Thursday, and that includes all of New England. The dangerously cold front pushed into Massachusetts on Wednesday evening, first with a quick blast of snow, followed by plummeting temperatures overnight. Most throughout the state awoke to temperatures in the single digits at best and a wind chill well below zero.
That was the case at Hale Reservation in Westwood, Mass., home to the inaugural Frozen Yeti, where it was 5 degrees at 8 a.m. Thursday, just 48 hours before the start of the race. The inaugural 30-hour ultramarathon and 15-mile trail race takes place Feb. 2-3, with 126 runners slated to start the ultra and another 71 tackling the 15-mile distance. For the Trail Animals Running Club, the Frozen Yeti represents a revival of its original 100-mile footrace, the TARC 100, that enjoyed a four-year run before going into hibernation after the 2016 edition.
Unlike its predecessor event, which began as an early-summer race and then moved to the fall, the Frozen Yeti was designed to be a cold-weather challenge. It will not disappoint in that regard.
The 30-hour ultramarathon begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, and the 15-mile race starts at 8 a.m. Sunday. While the weekend isn’t expected to be quite as bitter as it was on Thursday, runners should still prepare for below-freezing temperatures. No snow is in the forecast, but The Weather Channel projects most of Saturday to be in the upper 20s to low 30s with a high of 37 degrees. Sunday is expected to be more comfortable with the temperature climbing from the 20s into the low 40s by mid-afternoon.
Racing on a clover-leaf course consisting of three approximately five-mile mini loops, runners will have access to one aid station (Powissett Lodge) located at the midpoint of the clover leaf. While they will have access to the warmth and shelter of the lodge every five miles or so and can have drop bags both inside and outside the building, race organizers have mandated that runners carry the following items on them at all times: cell phone, two hats, two pairs of hand coverings (gloves/mittens), one wind- and water-resistant shell, two emergency blankets (or one blanket and one bivy), a whistle, and clothing sufficient to cover all exposed skin below the neck.
Additionally, any 30-hour entrants who will be on the course after 3 p.m. on Saturday must carry a headlamp with extra batteries, a rear blinking red light, and wear reflective gear on the front and back in order to make it easier for to locate runners who are lost, injured, or find themselves in some other situation of distress.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
5:55-7:45 a.m. – Shuttles take runners from Membership Beach Parking Lot to the Starting Line at Powissett Lodge
7:50 a.m. – Pre-Race Briefing for 30-Hour Ultramarathon
8 a.m. – 30-Hour Ultramarathon Starts
7:50 a.m. – Pre-Race Briefing for 15-Mile Race
8 a.m. – 15-Mile Race Starts
2 p.m. – Finish Line Closes