Thursday, November 11, 2010

What is Triple D?

The Triple D Winter race is a winter endurance trail event that traverses Dubuque County Iowa in the dead of winter by bike, ski or foot.

What makes this race different from other marathon and ultra-marathon distance races? Well, it’s in the WINTER for one! Winter racing isn’t about being fast or in shape; it’s about mental toughness and fortitude. Your number one goal is to simply finish! If you approach Triple D with that in mind it is an incredibly fun event.

Who participates in Triple D? The race draws nearly 300 competitors representing a complete cross-section of individuals from former and current pro racers (even a former Tour de France bike racer), top US cross country skiers to local recreational enthusiasts and top ultra-marathon runners. There are even a quite a few Iditarod trail racers who compete in Triple D. The race has drawn racers from all over including Florida, New York, Kentucky, Missouri, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa; and internationally from Mexico, Canada, Belgium, and Spain.

Where does the race take place? The runners and skiers are are sometimes bused in style to their start in Dyersville and Farley and finish at the Handlebar in Durango Iowa and Eichmann’s in Sageville. In 2016 the foot and ski racers will all start at the Handlebar in Durango. The majority of this race is on the groomed Heritage Trail (Rails to Trails system). The bikers start their doomed journey on Alaskan style single track snowmobile trail (private club trails) in Dubuque to the historic railroad town of Graf where they then travel on the sometimes groomed Heritage trail to Dyersville the halfway check-point then turn back towards Durango for a 26 mile easy downhill section! Then for one of the most challenging sections the bikers will finish their last 10 miles climbing back up towards the finish on single track snowmobile trails to the finish (the bike route is altered slightly every year due to trail conditions and weather).

Is the race supported? NO! While we have lots of volunteers helping and monitoring the race, all racers are to be "SELF-supported" and are not allowed to receive outside help (other than verbal encouragement). Racers will need to carry any extra clothing, food, hydration, etc. that will allow them to finish the event. Racers are allowed to purchase items along the race at local establishments (nearest are about a mile off the trail). We have a number of Sag Vehicles to retrieve racers if they cannot continue. Racers may receive help from other racers. The Marathon racers and Ultra marathon racers will usally have at least one and sometimes two food stations depending on the route. In addition the ultra racers can always stop their race at mile 26.2 where they can drop from ultra and still receive a finish time for completing the Marathon race.

Is the race difficult? YES!!! However, typically most the runners and skiers finish their races. 2009 was the most difficult year for runners due to the 9" of fresh snow that caused issues with wet feet; however they still had a 90% finish rate. The bike division is another story... In the first four years of Triple D, only 30 bikers finished (out of nearly a 650 total racers). YES riding a bike on snow is not easy, but it can be done and is much easier now that FATBIKES are becoming so popular. Triple D made National FOX news and local TV news for the bike division due to how difficult the event is and the rapidly growing popularly of the sport.

How long does the race take? Is there a time cut off? Review the times from prior years... we recommend that racers either finish or sag so that they are back at the event center by 9:30 pm (10 at the latest (12 hours of racing). The top runners and skiers will finish the Marathon distance in about 3.5 hours! The record bike time is right under 6 hours (one year was so difficult that racers only progressed slightly further than 40 miles after 12 hours, yup no bikers finished that year!

What are the distances? The runners and skiers will compete for overall placement in 4 distances (5k [new for 2016], Half Marathon, Marathon and a 50km Ultra Marathon). The only distance option for the bikers is an incredibly challenging ultra-marathon ride/slog of +108 km (67 horrific miles). Bikers: remember even though you know you (and possibly everyone) may not finish, ultimate overall placement is determined by who traveled the furthest distance on the official race route (with credit given for those who self-sag back to either the Durango bar [free food and beer] or the event headquarters). Also, at any time biker racers may drop to the Poker tour and complete for the $300+ cash in that event.

What is the weather like in Dubuque in Jan? Your guess is as good as ours or even the weatherman’s... the first year of Triple D we had -20dF air temp (-30dF wind-chill), in 2009 we had sweltering temps of +15dF, 2010 the temp was a mild +10dF to -5dF and in 2011 the conditions were nearly perfect for a winter race. In 2013, it was dry and no snow with ice on heritage trail. However, the last couple years were warm enough that mud and mush were the story of the day...

I want to find out more where should I go? Read the posts and links on this blog, Facebook should be checked often as it is updated weekly and more than weekly as we approach race day. You can also, view the prior year results for links to some of the racers blogs, search the internet. Also, you can give our race directory Lance a call at (563) 543-2784 or email him at Lance dot Andre @

What do I get for participating? Eternal happiness and fulfillment... bragging rights at work… a legitimate excuse for visiting that psychotherapist… Everyone who starts: qualifies for prize $$$$ in our lottery drawings and everyone gets one of our coveted 3" laser cut winter race medals. The top finishers qualify for more chances at the $$$$, in each category (bike male/female, half/full/ultra-marathon run male/female, and ski male/female) receive awards hand crafted by a local area artists. All the racers get a free bar tab at Chads pizza in Dyersville, the Durango Depot, and Eichmann’s if they get their by their own fruition (i.e. no sag, but they don’t have to finish)... There will also be some great swag from our sponsors, check back as these details become more finalized. This race has a 100% payout (after expenses).

WHY? Everyone who does Triple D has their own reason, but some that we've heard are: cabin fever, staying inside sucks, love running so much it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, wanted to compete in 100 marathons in one year and Triple D was the only one they could find in January, to train for Arrowhead 135, to train from the Iditarod Trail Invitational, counseling wasn’t working, wife was nagging me to get out of the house, husband was driving me crazy I had to get out of the house, kids wanted to spend the weekend at the water park, you can only ice fish for so long, Charlie Farrow made me do it, I just got a snow bike so I’m REQUIRED to ride Triple D (they did tell you that at the bike shop didn't they?)… what's your reason?

What can my family do when I’m freezing my bits off? The Triple D Winter race take place during the Dubuque Ice Festival, also the event headquarters has a fun pool area for kids. Nearby are TWO of the Midwest’s best ski/snowboard resorts (Sundown & Chestnut Mountain). The Triple D race will pass right by the bottom of Sundown Mountain on their way to the finish and it is also a poker stop. There is a Bald Eagle watch the day before and numerous other winter activities nearby. Here’s a quick list:
2. (Poker Stop for bikes)
3. (Event Headquarters)


  1. thanks for sharing this blog good work keep it up

  2. Yo, time to update this for the current year.

    bikes start in downtown dbq?
    runners end at handlebar?

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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