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Jon's Excellent Winter Adventure, January 2016

posted Feb 6, 2016, 1:45 PM by Gay Renouf
Jon Paradowski has excelled even his own standard of gutsiness at ultra running.  Jon recently attempted a duo of two winter extreme races, and sadly DNF'd in both.  However, these DNFs deserve to be celebrated!  The first was the Tuscobia Winter ultra marathon on January 8 - 160 MILES on the Tuscobia Trail in Wisconsin.  The race is "loosely supported" - in addition to being held in extreme temperatures, pulling your survival supplies on a sled, having to do some way-finding, and being really, really long, racers are not allowed a crew.  In fact, Jon said that he went 14 hours without seeing a soul.

The second race was the Arrowhead Ultra 135 (again, MILES!) on January 30 on the Arrowhead State snowmobile trail in northern Minnesota.  This 135 mile doozy is considered to be one of the 50 toughest ultras in the world.  Again, it requires racers to pull all their survival supplies with them, do some way finding, be self sufficient, and make their way through a trail that is termed "extremely rugged".  It is considered to be one of the world's most gruelling ultras, of course for its length, but also for its history of brutally cold temperatures, often lower than -40.  Ironically, it was made tougher this year because of warm weather.  Runners had to wade through melting snow, slipping on every footfall, and suffering wet feet for over 12 hours.  After that, it cooled off and firmed up the trail, but the amount of energy it took to pull a sled and the rough conditions of all the runners feet made 2016 one of the toughest in the race's history.

So here's why Jon's results should be celebrated.  In Regina, all through December, Jon prepared madly - he tested his new sled, different footwear, stoves, headlights, even slept outdoors.  He lasted 29 hours in the first race, and 30 hours in the second race, amassing a distance much further than most races full distances - these endurance times were both PRs for him.  He suffered extreme cold, falling asleep as he ran, sometimes even waking up as he was falling down, trench foot like you'd see in WW I, loneliness and doubt, and severe ankle tendonitis making each footstep agonizing.  And of course, he signed up in the first place.  Go Jon, keep on living big!
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