Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Big Dance

Arrowhead 135 Ultra

Part 1: By Eric Peterson

The dreaming started years ago….. 

Many can attest to my thoughts of the AH over the past 8 years being quite different than they are now.  I used to be in the “that’s crazy” crowd, which I must admit is astoundingly enormous, but over the past few years I have somehow migrated to the “challenge yourself” crowd.  It has been a transformation which has pushed and prodded me along this rocky uphill path to greater self-awareness.  I only mention this because knowing the “why” is what this event is all about, and the answers to that question are limitless.

I find myself driving up to International Falls on Saturday for the mandatory gear check with so much excitement that I can barely sit still.  I get there and walk into the conference room and there he is, the legend, Dave Pramann sitting behind his laptop checking in the racers.  I check in and he shakes my hand.  Awesome.  The room is so packed with people and gear that you can hardly see the carpet, and instantly my stomach feels like it has just imploded.  I cruise back to the truck to get my gear for inspection and jump back in line.  I get thru the gear check in what seems like hours but I know that it was only minutes.  My gear is good to go and the paperwork is done.  Walking back to the truck I feel a sense of relief so amazing that it’s like a warm blanket on a cold night……. And I can’t help but smile.

Dad and I drive back up the next day for the racers meeting and spaghetti feed.  That evening I happen across Charlie Farrow in the pool area.  We chat for a while, and I end up helping him haul some gear to his car.  On the way we see Pramann who is headed to the hotel bar so we join him.  The two of them regale me with tales of past events which is certainly an awe inspiring experience.  I would happily listen all night long but I need to try to get some rest, for Monday is going to be a long day.  I hit the pillow and try to sleep but it just isn't happening.  How surprising.  The alarm goes of at 5:30 and with maybe 3 hours of rest I’m ready to go by 6:30.  I run into Charlie in the lobby and we end up riding over to the start together which is about 8 blocks away.  He tells me to grab onto the lead group right away and I respond with a laugh.  Jay Petervary and many other elites are in that group, so there is no chance for me to hang with them.  Simply to finish is merely the goal.  Next he tells me not to bivy.  If I get tired, “just push the bike for an hour or two.  It’ll come back to you,” (more on the irony of this statement later) which sounds like something that I would definitely try if need be.  We get to the start and check in.  It’s a sea of chaos with cars, bikes, skiers, runners, and sleds everywhere.  Blinking lights, headlamps, and reflective vests in the dark make the whole scene feel surreal.  "Can this really be happening?  Am I still sleeping," I think to myself.  I pull off my glove and put my hand to my exposed face.  It's cold to the touch and I see my breath in the crisp morning air.  Yeah, this is real.  6 minutes before the start Pramann comes by with the bullhorn telling everyone to line up on the trail head.  I sneak into the middle of the pack, get situated, fiddle with my gear, and bang.  It’s a mad dash for the finish which at this point feels like it’s on the other side of the world........

More to come later.


  1. Holy Cow - Arrowhead? I am in awe...

  2. Can't wait for your next post......


  3. I don't even know who Rlove2bike is exactly. He gave us some support when we needed it. If your friend of his,your a friend of mine. Like your thoughts.

  4. Great write-up Eric. I was looking forward to it as I knew it would not disappoint...and now I am looking forward to the next chapter!!

  5. Looking forward to more on Arrowhead. Over the years I've migrated from the "that's crazy" camp to "that's crazy, sounds like fun" to "that's crazy, let's go for it".