Donning every possible layer of outdoor clothing I own, I pull on my mukluks, fling a camera around my neck and grab my notebook. It’s time for the start of the Arrowhead 135!
At the 7am start, it’s -9 degrees with a touch of snow falling in International Falls MN. Bikers, runners and skiers line up and head down the Arrowhead Trail as fireworks light up the inky sky. The race takes its heritage seriously, ranked as one of 50 toughest races in the world. The finish line is 135 miles away.
These intrepid athletes will endure up to three days on the trail, with temperatures predicted in the -22 degree range by morning. My role is far easier. And warmer. I am here to cover the race for the Lake Country Journal, a beautiful glossy magazine that covers all things related to our northern lakes area.
Teaming up with Rich, we have created a new niche for ourselves – find fun events that interest us, sell the idea to a magazine, attend and experience them, then produce a story. I write, he takes the photographs.
Today we leapfrog the trail, catching the racers at intervals along the way. Rich looks for unique photo opps, I make mental notes of what I see – the steadfast determination in the racers’ eyes, the thick boots, the ice encrusted beards and fanciful antler hat. We have time to warm up in the car. The racers have only their energy to heat their bodies.
I would never be here if it weren’t for my writing. Seeing folks pursue the impossible. Following the Holiday Train. Leaning the ins and outs of sled dog racing. Attending a home grown radio show. Then bring them to life for others. New horizons, unique adventures, a break in my strict daily routine. It’s a privilege to be able to write about topics of my own choosing.It wasn’t always this way. Getting here has a been a seven year journey of my own. I got my humble start in writing with Lake Superior Magazine, which accepted my first cold submission. Editor Konnie went on to gently mentor me year after year, offering me more stories as my skills improved. Just seeing my work come out in print was a big thrill. And it remains one of my favorite magazines to write for.
As today’s racers doggedly push on toward the finish line I remain vigilant as we chase them down the trail, composing lines in my head, shaping the story to share with my readers. It’s already been a memorable adventure, and we haven’t yet seen them press on through the dark of night. But when they do, I’ll be there. With my talented photographer husband at my side. On Location.