Two ultramarathoners from Minneapolis covering the Arrowhead 135-mile endurance race route twice on foot — back to back — finished the final mile of 270 late Wednesday afternoon in frigid Tower, Minn.
Kari Gibbons and Kate Coward hoofed 135 miles to International Falls to get to Monday morning's start of the Arrowhead 135, which is considered one of the most-extreme endurance races in the world. Then, they turned it around and did another 135 miles in the official race to Tower. The two finished just before 5 p.m. Wednesday. Their official time for the race to Tower was 58 hours, 9 minutes. In total, they were on the trail for seven days.
The pair are the first women to do the double. Friends and followers online have showered them with congratulations on the Facebook page devoted to their challenge: Kate & Kari's Double Arrowhead Nordic Quest.
According to freelancer photographer Scott Rokis, who documented the race, the two were weary as expected after seven days on the Arrowhead Trail when he caught up with them several miles out from the finish. The weather had lived up to its billing. Conditions were colder and harsher than expected with temperatures well south of zero much of the time. Said Rokis in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon to the Star Tribune: “It’s the first time (Coward and Gibbons) acknowledged the difficulty of this feat. Last night took a toll on them. The fresh snow added difficulty to pulling the sled. The wind whipped around and turned the snow into icy nails pelting their faces. According to Kate, the windchill felt like -80 :) . See them soon at the finish!”
Coward posted on Facebook early Monday after the pair finished their first leg of 135 miles from Tower to International Falls.
“It went by fast! Kari and I have some truly incredible hours, enjoying the trail, woods, solitude, and feeling grateful we can do this. Couple of warm soft days were pretty taxing. Last 72 miles was a big push starting at 5am Saturday with a short stop halfway and then onward to IFalls in time for the Arrowhead 135 racers meeting. There is so much we want to share but no time now. Still trying to recover and be ready for the 7:04 start this morning. Lower extremities sore and achy, but all else good. Going to get colder here with a -13 start — perfect conditions!”
More on the Arrowhead, including results, are online at arrowheadultra.com.