My next serious race won't come until February: The 350 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational. I'm planning to begin my training for that event about 6-8 weeks from now. Currently any running or biking I'm doing is exclusively for pleasure. And yet each time I'm out running I find myself thinking about February. This race is going to be so much more demanding than anything I've done to date. Not only will it more than triple the longest race I have ever run but it will be in interior Alaska, in February, where temps are likely to drop to -20 or colder.
Invariably when I think about this event my mind wanders to thoughts about the race record in the foot division. In 2005 fellow Alaskan, Steve Reifenstuhl finished this race on foot in 4 days and 15 hours! I can't get this thought out of my mind lately. This just doesn't even seem possible to me. That's an average of just over 75 miles per day, dragging behind you on a sled everything needed to survive for this time in the above described conditions (with the exception of some of your meals which can be eaten at the checkpoints along the way). In this past winter's Susitna 100 it took me almost 22 hours to travel 100 miles in similar (but much warmer) conditions. Within 2 hours of finishing I was unable to walk for about 48 hours. The thought of going back out for another 50+ mile day the next day was absolutely 100% NOT an option. How anyone could travel 75 miles per day for almost 5 days under these conditions is beyond belief to me. I think it is very safe to say that this record is going to stand for a long time.