• Posted Feb 9, 2023

The Arrowhead 135 winter ultra race in International Falls MN is a test of survival, planning, mental prowess and fitness like almost no other competition.

About AH135
The race is 135-miles from International Falls, Minn. to Tower, Minn. and occurred on Jan. 30th 2023.

Athletes must complete the demanding route with minimal or no support, embodying the race’s four core principles: Strength, endurance, solitude and survival.

The race requires athletes to carry enough gear to bed down for the night and a minimal amount of calories and cooking equipment to survive in the cold temperatures in case they have a mechanical or have to stop for any other reason.

149 athletes started on bike, ski or foot and only 74 crossed the finish line at Fortune Bay Resort Casino near Tower, Minn., 135 miles later. It’s normal that about half finish.

This year's temperatures ranges from a low of -27F to -1F at the high.

Des Moines Finisher
Tyler Johnson of Des Moines competed and FINISHED as a rookie this year. He has competed in other Winter Ultras but non this cold or long. Tyler is a member of the BIKEIOWA Racing Team who specializes in gravel ultras and fat bike racing.

The planning took months - the gear, the bike, the fitness.

Tyler said "The total experience was very expensive, stressful, and taxing on my mental health. There's no way I could've done it without the help of my wife, family, and virtual supporters. The thought of quitting never once crossed my mind because I came mentally prepared to cross the finish-line, even if It meant walking the whole way."

"It can get lonely in the North Woods throughout the night, but thoughts of my family kept me going.

Tyler completed the race in 34 hours and 53 minutes.

Tyler's Highlights
  • At one point, he used a hand warmer to open his eye because it was frozen shut.
  • TONS of hike-a-bike with fun downhills that didn't last long cause the snow was like velcro
  • He still has all my fingers and toes
  • He spent a few hours in a sweet cabin to dry out (he overheated on some hike-a-bike sections and was sweating too much)
  • He used BIKEIOWA's new lightweight Pogie Lite 3.0s with these gloves and a hand-warmer

Would he do it again? Yep!!!

Full results can be found at:

Other Iowans who competed were:
Robert Hintgen
Steve Mcguire
Gary Boesenberg


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