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Davenport Man Loses Toes, Wins Race

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Temperatures Wednesday night could range from five to 20 below throughout Iowa. Exposure becomes a much more critical issue when it is that cold. One doctor says bad things happen a lot quicker at extreme temperatures. For one Davenport man that warning is too late. Andrew Wells made a major sacrifice to win an endurance race in Wisconsin. Wells is in the hospital awaiting surgery. He might have won the race over the weekend, but it is the body part he is losing later this week that has him held up in the hospital.

Andrew Wells lives for extreme sports. The 27-year-old from Davenport says he knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed up for the Frozen Otter Ultra Trek. It is a 64-mile, 24-hour endurance race through Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine State Forest. Wells said, "I knew there's a good chance of frostbite."

Wells made it farther than any other racer. He ran and hiked for 16 hours, covering about 50 miles in temperatures that reached 15-below. He said, "I remember at 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock in the morning even when it was really cold out, I was the happiest. You couldn't knock the smile off my face."

But at 4 in the morning, when he had to stop, Wells had minor frostbite on his nose. It got worse farther down his body. Wells said, "I wasn't too worried about my feet. I mean I couldn't feel them."

Wells has serious frostbite on two toes on his right foot. He is at University Hospitals waiting to get them amputated. Wells said, "I'm kind of upset about my foot modeling contract."

The chiropractic student is in surprisingly good spirits even though he is losing two toes and he says his parents think he is an idiot. Wells said, "I'm just grateful I'm not losing a foot, my hands or some vital parts. I'm still alive."

It is a hefty price to pay for a race, but Wells loves the competition. And he will be back on his feet and racing again as soon as he can.

This race does not have big money attached to it. For winning, Wells gets a magazine subscription, some hiking gear, hiking food and energy drinks.

Email Steve Nicoles at

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