Today I will do what others will not. So that tomorrow I can achieve what others cannot.
Joe Falcone lived up to those words.
His goal was to finish the Arrowhead 135 mile. A brutal overland race covered with snow, ice and heavy winds.
His problem? He lived in Florida.
Check out the SGPT interview with Joe Falcone as he tells you how he trains and finds a way to win. Warning – this is a No Excuses interview.
SGPT: Tell us about yourself?
JF: I am 47 years old, married with two kids. I am a Captain with Delray Beach Fire Rescue and will hit the 22 year mark in May. I am a veteran of the US Air Force where I served 5 years also as a Firefighter. I currently reside in Boca Raton, FL.
SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?
JF: I played rec baseball growing up, wrestled in high school. Nothing crazy, I was an average athlete but always kept active.
SGPT: Tell us a little about the event? Where was it?
JF: The Arrowhead 135 is an extreme winter Ultra Marathon. You can run bike or ski it. I choose to run it. The course begins in International Falls, MN and traverses the Arrowhead State Trail 135 miles south and ends in Tower, MN. Its a point to point race. Check points are about 35-38 miles apart.
SGPT: The Arrowhead is a serious event with the snow and cold.
How did you deal with this huge obstacle?
JF: Coming from south Florida this was a major obstacle for me. The race requires some cold weather experience. So to qualify and build my resume, I ran 100 miles near Buffalo NY in the winter, climbed Mt. Rainier, and did a 26 mile winter expedition with some friends in the Adirondacks mid winter. The rest I read, learned, asked questions and applied whatever I picked up from experience and others.
SGPT: How did you train for the Arrowhead 135 event?
JF: My training consisted of logging alot of miles pulling a tire on the levee of the Everglades. I also ran a bunch, walked, lifted, ice plunges and rode my bike.
My favorite workout was a 5 mile tire drag, 4 mile run, 3 mile tire drag, 2 mile run, 1 mile tire drag, .5 mile run. Its a 15.5 mile workout and it’s a MF’er.
SGPT: We are a big fan or sled drags and pushing to build hip power. Check out the SGPT DIY sled article here:
SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?
JF: Hardest part of the event for me was the last 25 miles. Sleep deprived, tired legs and major hallucinations makes for a long walk to the finish line. At this point it’s a mental game and simply putting one foot in front of the other until you reach the end. You do not see anyone on this section, maybe another racer but that’s it. Complete isolation.
SGPT: Did you stay in one of the lodges? Or bring a tent for a overnight bivvy?
JF: The midpoint has a cabin racer’s can use. I took this opportunity to eat hot food, sleep for 30-45 mins, change socks, organize my gear and head out again. I didn’t Bivvy this year, I took power naps on the trail. 2 years ago when I did the race, I set up a bivvy and slept out there but I didn’t need to this time.
SGPT: Your Dad also finished the race? Extra points for family time 👍
JF: My Dad didn’t do the race but accompanies me on these races when my wife can’t be there. He a great Dad and super supportive. He’s not allowed to help at all but seeing a familiar face rolling into a checkpoint is extremely uplifting.
SGPT: What is one thing you wish you would have done to get ready for a Arrowhead event?
JF: I need to dial in my sled packing. My sled was heavier than I would have liked. But that comes with experience and confidence that you don’t need to pack unnecessary items. But coming from Florida I pack alot of “what if” stuff and it’s not necessary.
SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to do the Arrowhead event?
JF: If extreme winter adventure is what you seek, look up the race and get the qualifications to apply. Find a race, build your experience outdoors, learn and ask questions and do it! It’s a hard race but not impossible.
SGPT: What kind of boots did you use for the event?
JF: I used the Hoka Speedgoat GTX Hiking boot.
SGPT: Did you use double socks or body glide on your feet to prevent blisters?
JF: I use Smartwool and Dri-Max socks. I do not double up. I make my own lube for chafing.
I use Aquaphor and Gold Bond powder. I mix it up real good and it’s bulletproof. No blisters and minimal chafing.
SGPT: We highly recommend using a good lubrication for endurance events. I like that you made your own mix. That is creative.
SGPT: What kind of ruck / backpack did you use for training and the event?
JF: I use a 20# Bullit weight vest for Arrowhead training. I didn’t ruck much at all. If i do, I use my 5.11 ruck sack with plate. I pull my gear in a sled so no need for backpack during race.
SGPT: What book are you reading now? Do you have a good podcast you have been listening to?
JF: I am currently reading Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter. I listen to Team Never Quit, Joe Rogan and recently Huberman lab.
SGPT: Many thanks for the interview Joe.
Finishing an event like this is a major accomplishment and an inspiration to all of the SGPT Nation! Great job on the finish.
JF: Thanks for allowing me to share my story about Arrowhead 135. If you’d like to learn more or have questions, please feel free to reach out. There are other races that are shorter distance to help prepare for Arrowhead. Sign up, show up and get it done!
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