Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Iditarod Trail Invitational (Iti)

It's that time of year again...yep...the Iditarod! Up in Alaska starting last Sunday (Feb 28th) was the start of the annual Iti race. This one is for Humans. The dog sled teams start in another week or 2 (can't remember which...if it's just 1 or 2 weeks after the humans start). There are multiple categories: foot, bike, or skis. And once again Jill Homer and her boyfriend Beat Jegerlehner are on the trail. They are BOTH doing the full 1000 miles (from Anchorage to Nome)...Beat is again doing it on foot pulling his home-made sled (his third time...his first year he finished in Nome, last year he was snowed in and abandoned around the half-way point). Jill has never tried the full 1000, she has completed the 300 miles to McGrath once and abandoned the 2nd time she tried (she punched a foot thru the snow into a river and filled her boot with water, and then ended up with frostbite trying to get to the next way-station and had to abandon).

Beat is currently (as of March 2nd, 11:30am Pacific time) at route mile 125. Jill is moving quite well so far and is at mile 207 (not to say that Beat isn't moving FANTASTIC! He's averaging 44 miles PER DAY thus far!) When Greg and I go backpacking, 15 miles is a pretty big day with 25 to 30lbs on our backs....can you imagine PULLING 50 (or MORE!) lbs over snow, slush, mud? YIKES! Jill's Erikson bike is fully loaded with all her survival gear, and likely weighs at LEAST 50lbs...probably more like 60.

If you'd like to peek in on the action, here is the home page with the SPOT (Satellite POsition Tracker) blips showing where each participant is on the route.

2016 Iditarod Trail Invitational

 If you hover your mouse on an athlete their blip on the map jumps around showing you where they are. If you then click on an athlete, it opens a window and gives you the details of that persons race thus far. At the bottom of the page is an altitude profile showing little blips on the route...when you hover your mouse over one of those blips, it will make their spot on the map jump out just like hovering over their name.

MOST of the participants are doing the shorter version (300 measly easy-peasy miles) will be stopping at McGrath in another few days (the fastest on bikes have already finished). Jill and Beat will (if they finish up in Nome) be out for weeks. For FUN! In ALASKA! In WINTER! Every year at this time when watching this race unfold I'm flummoxed, mystified, stupefied and mesmerized that ANYBODY would do this to themselves. Mental GIANTS do you NOT give up when things get bad? (and rest assured...mother nature throws EVERYTHING at you in a race of this duration!) Rain, snow, BITTER COLD, warmer temps (in the 30's and 40's, which is a BAD thing when you are trying to race on what is SUPPOSED to be a frozen trail that goes OVER streams, lakes and rivers).

Personally I'd find something ELSE to do for fun...but Jill and Beat are something else are all the athletes out there right now doing this race. I see that Jay and Tracey Petervary are both doing the 350 mile route on bikes this year...Jay and Tracy are both finishers of the Great Divide Race multiple times (that's the mountain bike race that goes from Banff Alberta to Antelope Wells New Mexico every year). Jay held the men's record for many years and was only beaten a few years ago. His wife Tracy is an endurance athlete in her own right (and to be fair, Jill set a new women's record the one time she did the GDR, back about 6 years ago I think). Also I recognize other names on the Iti this year from previous editions of the GDR. Endurance athletes are a unique bunch for sure.

Anyway, just wanted to get a report in that this FANTASTIC race is ongoing. As to the professional road bikers, their Spring Classics season is just beginning! I likely won't get to see ANY of them, so I'll just have to read about them on Velo News. I see that Nibbles is going to the Giro for the win...and will be skipping le Tour. I'm quite anxious to see how Taylor Phinney does this year...I'm REALLY rooting for him to WIN some big races! What he has come back from, just to be on a bike again is a MIRACLE! Last year when he raced the Tour of Colorado (yes, I know it's not really called that) was just fantastic! There's a really nice article about him in's a link:

Taylor Phinney: I'm stronger than I was before!

I hope he kicks some SERIOUS BUTT this year! I'd love to see him start picking up where Fabian will be leaving...(he can't have that many more races in him sadly).

OK. Enough for now. Have a nice March!

Game ON!


  1. Friday afternoon, about 1:30pm PST...Jill has passed McGrath checkpoint (which she arrived at last night I think) and is now at mile 309 and moving! This is all new ground for her...she rode a bike to McGrath (right at 299 miles from the Anchorage start) back when she did the Iti for the first time. The 2nd time she attempted it she froze her foot and abandoned. So she is now on totally new ground...never before trodden by her, and she only has about 693 miles to go! Can you IMAGINE having ONLY 693 miles to go? In ALASKA? In MARCH? SOLO?? She is a true mental and physical GIANT!

    And Beat is doing well on foot dragging his sled (I have no idea what the conditions are...he might have been dragging it over dirt/mud in some areas due to lack of snow). He's at mile 189 and moving as I type.

    Wow. Just WOW! The things people do for fun! Go Jill and Beat!

  2. Spartacus wins Strade Bianche! GO FABIAN!!! He is going to ROCK the classics in this, his LAST year! You do MAN!!!