Cold Consequences

In a story this weekend for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I write about David Heitkamp of New Haven, Ind., who competed in the Arrowhead 135 Ultramarathon last month, and—as this image shows—did not fare so well.

These are medical photos taken a few days after the race ended.

This year’s Arrowhead race started in International Falls, Minn., on Monday, February 5, and continued 135 miles south through the snow. The event featured temperatures that plunged to 35 degrees below zero; a slight breeze poked the wind chill down to minus-45.

(I did this race in 2006—finishing in 9th place, actually!—but decided to skip the suffer-fest this year.)

Here are the initial lines from a letter Heitkamp sent on Tuesday, February 20, addressed to the 46 fellow racers whom he competed against in the Arrowhead 135 Ultramarathon:

“As I send this message, I have 10 severely frostbitten toes that need to be wrapped twice per day with solution; two frostbitten thumbs; and two frostbitten digits on my left hand next to the thumb. My cornea on my left eye was frozen. I also lost a front tooth so that now when I grin I look like a character from ‘Deliverance’ who lived in the backwoods.”

Yikes is right. See the full story in the Star Tribune.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.


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