Jared Vanderhook Runs Tuscobia 75 Miles Winter Endurance with Pal, his Pulk

“It was two nights before the race and zip-lock bags filled with over 8,000 calories of gels, candy, chips, sandwiches and other calorie dense food that wouldn’t freeze in the cold were spread across my kitchen table. Gear filled the rest of the table and spread into my living room. As I looked around I couldn’t help but wonder if I had way too much stuff.”

Here's how to finish Tuscobia: organization though looking at all this food can make one hungry.

Here’s how to finish Tuscobia: organization though looking at all this food can make one hungry.

Jared gives this Tuscobia story in his words. “I went back to the spreadsheet and started checking each item off as I filled my sled bag. My gear and clothing weighed about 30 pounds. Water and food would add another 10 pounds. I’d be wearing and/or dragging (in a sled called a pulk) around 40 extra pounds.

Thursday morning Tim (Lupfer) and I headed towards Park Falls, Wisconsin in the pickup truck I borrowed from my parents for the weekend. After a couple of hours of driving we noticed the Tuscobia Trail was running parallel with the road. We drove along the course for a while and even spotted some 150-mile runners that had started their race that morning.

Since there would only be two checkpoints during the race I wanted to scope out possible places to stop for dinner during the race. We decided to stop at a dive bar in the village of Radisson, Wisconsin (pop. 241) to grab a bite to eat. As we walked in the bar, an AR-15 assault rifle hanging on the wall behind the bar with a hand-written sign persuading patrons to purchase a $20 raffle ticket reminded me of the difference between a Northern Wisconsin dive bar and a Northeast Minneapolis dive bar.

After we ate, we drove over to the Tuscobia Trail where it passed through the middle of town. As we suspected, the trail was long, straight and flat, but also had a nice base of snow. Snow conditions seemed good for running, but Tim was a little concerned with how it would fare for biking. (As a side note – Tuscobia is a run, bike or ski event, and in addition to 75-mile race there is also a 150-mile race and a 35-mile race).

Evidently Jared didn't win the AR-15 Assault rifle; perhaps he forgot to get that raffle ticket?

Evidently Jared didn’t win the AR-15 Assault rifle; perhaps he forgot to get that raffle ticket?

We arrived at our cabin, checked in and headed back into Park Falls at 5:00 p.m. for mandatory gear check. The snow was even more plentiful in the Park Falls area, covering the trees and creating a beautiful winter setting. All the snow had me even more excited for the race. Gear check only took about 15 minutes. The optional pre-race briefing and dinner wouldn’t start for another two hours, so we decided to skip it and head back to our cabin for dinner and an early slumber. I slept well. At 4:30 a.m. my alarm went off. I ate breakfast, drank coffee and tried to relax for a few minutes before heading out. At 6:00 a.m. we threw all of our gear in the truck and headed to Park Falls to catch the bus to the starting line.

The two-hour bus ride to Rice Lake was long, and it was the only time the whole day that my feet got cold. Tim gave me a couple of hand warmers to stuff in my shoes. We sat in silence for most of the ride, watching the clock and imagining the race. Occasionally I would eavesdrop on conversations around me.

At one point I overheard someone behind me mention he had finished 65 100-mile races. I felt intimidated and couldn’t help but wonder if I was getting in over my head. Nerves started to set in and I started worrying about silly things I couldn’t change anymore like my lack of sled training. I reminded myself I was in the best running shape of my life, but the fact that I had only pulled a sled once for about 16 miles was hard to shrug off. Just a few weeks ago I had almost decided not to start the race because of it (you can read more about that here). I didn’t really know what to expect of myself out there, but I was looking forward to finding out.


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[Continue story at Mpls Trail Runner blog]


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  • Phillip Gary Smith

    Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works. Write to him at Phillip@ultrasuperior.com, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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