INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. -- I lay breathless in a muddle of metal, rubber, survival gear and sweat, having flipped over my bicycle handlebars and landed flat on my back just a few feet from fresh timberwolf tracks.
Stick-thin racers on fat-tired bikes and skinny skate skis had successfully negotiated this sketchy downhill stretch of Minnesota's snowy North Woods hours earlier. Outgunned by stronger legs and lungs, I was miles astern of most cyclists and awash in snow the consistency of mashed potatoes. Still, I righted the bike and pushed on alone, leaving behind a snow angel-like divot sure to draw a snicker from runners who were quickly closing the gap on me.
Daylight was fading and my water supply was frozen. Just 100 or so miles to go.
This was the Arrowhead 135 Ultramarathon.
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