Ultra Trek

9:02 p.m. on November 5, 2008 (EST)
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So I'm planning a 60+ mile one day trek in the middle of a northern Minnesota winter. I've been doing some shorter and warmer trek's but this will be my first experience with 0 or colder weather on this length.

Speed is of some essence and I hope to finish it in less then 24 hours. With that said looking for anyone that has some experience winter trail running/walking in these types of temps and what gear you would suggest.


9:19 a.m. on November 6, 2008 (EST)
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Ahh, endurance hiking!
I can not say I have done what you are proposing, I have spent a good bit of time thru-hiking, not running. You will have to run to cover 60 miles in a 24 hr. period.

I have worked one winter in Minnesota building a house and some rental cabins, it was cold!
Most of my experience hiking has been in the Southeast, so I can't offer the advise you need as it relates to hiking that distance in 0* temps because I have never done it.

Most dirt I have put behind me in one 24 hr. period is 28 miles, I broke it up into 3 sections with naps and meals in between. I always wanted to match the record for the Smokies which is 35 miles and held by Margaret Stevenson and Elgin Kintner.

To do what you propose to do you will have to far exceed the accomplishments of any trail runner I'm aware of. The speed record for the Appalachian Trail is 47+ days which works out to about 46 miles a day.
Karl Meltzer who attempted to break that record recently ran 41 miles his first day, it took 11 hours and 58 minutes.

9:45 a.m. on November 6, 2008 (EST)
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OK, now you got me to doing searches, HaHa.

This guy ran 100 trail miles in a 19 hr. period.

So I guess that's one trail runner I was not aware of!

9:53 a.m. on November 6, 2008 (EST)
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Is your trek part of the some form of an ultra marathon? I've forgotten the name, Arrowhead something. It sounds fun, but lacking any sense of speed the race would end several days before I would be to the finish line.

12:29 p.m. on November 6, 2008 (EST)
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Many of the competitors in the Western States 100 (in the Sierra Nevada) finish the 100 miles in under 24 hours (the majority take significantly longer, with lots of non-finishers). But that's non-snow running. It is typically in June (cancelled last year because of the fires). I have several friends who have done it every year for a number of years.

For snow, I assume you will be on skis or snowshoes. I used to do the Echo to Kirkwood Ski Race every year. But that was discontinued a couple years ago, due to lack of sponsorship support. That was less than your 60 miles (about 15 miles), but had about 2000 feet of cumulative altitude gain. The fastest skiers (almost all on skate skis) did it in under 2 hours and the fastest snowshoers in under 2.5 hours. There is a whole series of such races in the Sierra, some in the 50-60 mile range.

The American Birkebiener, run every year in February in Wisconsin (Feb 21 is the next one), is typically 50 to 54 kilometers. The original Birkie (run every year in Norway in March - Otto, add some information here) is based on a Norwegian rebellion in the 12th Century, and is about 75 years old. It is 54 km, 33 miles, and typically done in 2.5 to 3 hours by the fastest competitors. These days, the fastest competitors do it on skate skis.

I'm not that fast (of course), but if you are on skis and the terrain is not too steep (as I would expect in Minnesota, and if you have support (refreshment stations with hot drinks and snacks), you should be able to do the 60 miles in 24 hours with no problem (assuming you are in reasonable skiing shape). That's only 2.5 mph, after all, which is easily doable on track skis on a prepared track, and easily double or more that speed on skate skis. I typically did much faster on my tele skis on the Echo to Kirkwood. So if an Old GreyBeard can do that speed, including climbing 2000+ feet, you can do it.

Except ... 24 hours is too long to keep moving. When I go out with the "Day Hiking Group" on their typical 25-30 miles as a "day hike", I am really tired after the 10 hours or so (typically 4000-5000 ft of cumulative climb). Skiing is much much easier.

1:00 p.m. on November 6, 2008 (EST)
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Geez, Bill, I wish I could knock out 25 - 30 miles in 10 hrs.
Most of the terrain I hike doesn't allow that kind of speed, then again, I'm usually carrying a pack. I'm sure my dog could do it, he's always stopping and looking back at me. I'm positive he's thinking: Man,... these two legged types are really slow!

3:33 p.m. on November 6, 2008 (EST)
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This was the event I was thinking of.

3:42 p.m. on November 6, 2008 (EST)
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Wow. 60 miles in a 24hr period during winter conditions. I hope this is using skies. If not then I hope you run marathons and work out in a freezer.

If you want to go that far in such a short period of time during the winter, you are going to need some specialty gear. You will need to carry a small pack (GoLite Rush or Hydrolight series) with food (mainly energy bars and energy gel), a small alcohol stove for melting snow, head lamp (Petzl Tikka since you will be doing this at night), fist aid kit and at least an emergency blanket. I would think keeping hydrated and fending off hypothermia will be one of your biggest problems.

Start at the bottom up:
Snow shoes look at Northern Lites Elite Racer. This is the lightest snowshoe on the market, at least as far as I could find). At 30 oz. per pair. They do not take heavy loads, but you will need to go fast and light.
Combine these with a lightweight waterproof trail shoes with good lightweight gators (Outdoor Research makes some nice options). As for shirt and pants go with power stretch by EMS or some other highly brathable fabric designed for aerobic anctivities. I would go with Wildthings Superlight wind Shirt and pants for some protection when you stop or if things get really windy.

You could look at softshell pant and jacket, but they are alot heavier than power stretch and for the hight level of activity you be working at, they may not be able to keep up.

Enough for now. Hope this helps.

11:54 a.m. on November 7, 2008 (EST)
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SmokeEater said the event he was looking at was 60 miles. The Arrowhead is 135 miles, with the ski winner last year doing it in 36.5 hours (3.7 mph) and the foot winner in 40 hours. I can deal with 30 miles straight through, but not 100 (as in the Western States) or the Arrowhead at 135 miles. I would assume they must need a couple hours of rest somewhere along the way.

trout, the DayHikers long routes always involve a lot of climb. Even their 25 mile routes usually include 4000 ft of cumulative altitude gain (and loss, since they end at the start point). So it probably is not too much different than the terrain you hike in.

12:49 p.m. on November 7, 2008 (EST)
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Bill, I think your just trying to make me feel bad.
Now I'm gonna have to try a bare bones dayhike, without my usual gear I mean, and see what I can do.
Most of the dayhikes I do are in the 8 - 10 mile range.
I can do a lot more, but I'm always backpacking on longer hikes.
I don't think we have ANY hiking clubs around here that serious.

9:20 p.m. on November 8, 2008 (EST)
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Here's some 50 mile data for comparison- these are trail runners not hikers, elevations from 7K-10K, they aren't typically carrying a load, and it's in late spring temperatures.

Results of the 2008 race

The course for the 2009 race

12:21 a.m. on November 9, 2008 (EST)
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I have met a few of these "extreme" sports types, very FIT people and highly motivated. However, one thing does occur to me and it is simply that, as I understand it, these races are held with quite a number of support staff, pre-positioned along the route ?

In deciding to hike 10-12 miles, if alone, I would consider it very foolish to do so without an emergency camp/survival gear. Where I live, the mountains are only 7000 ft. in elevation and arise perpendicularly from the ocean; they receive 16 to 28 inches of rain every November and the temps. hover from 40*F at sealevel to -5 at the peaks during this month.

If, you get lost here as dozens do every year and become hypothermic in these conditions as you definitely will without proper emerg. gear, you WILL DIE and in an unpleasant manner.

Every so often, when I start hiking there a 20 minute drive from home, I see a 206LR or 212 lifting off with a "package" on a lanyard enroute to the helipad at Lion's Gate and this sombre sight of a corpse being transported kinda reminds me of WHY I have the pack on my back with the gear inside to ensure my survival if I get lost....and it CAN happen to anyone, regardless of how much wilderness experience you may have.

Not trying to discourage anyone, but, I think that a pause to consider HOW you want to hike at this time of year is a very wise idea.

12:07 p.m. on November 9, 2008 (EST)
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I agree,
Even my day hikes (especially during winter) are done with enough gear to give me an overnight option, just in case.

I also hike/camp in an area with lot's of rain and severe storms at times. In the Blue Ridge Escarpment area, storms can and do form without much warning, this catches a lot of visitors off guard, especially those who consider the Smokey Mountains to be benign.

12:29 p.m. on November 9, 2008 (EST)
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The words, "benign" and "mountains" do not equate for me!

6:54 p.m. on November 9, 2008 (EST)
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Check out this ultra walker from the mid 1800's. Edward Payson Weston, walked almost 500 miles in 10 days. Look him up at Wikipedia. He once walked 100+ miles in a day.
Bob Marshall who the wilderness area by the same name once walked over 100 miles in a day back in the early 1900's.

7:14 p.m. on November 9, 2008 (EST)
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Check Edward Weston's feats out under trip reports, I cut and pasted his story in Long distance walking.

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