Monday, August 20, 2007

4 Days and 15 Hours

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.

12 comments:

Cellarrat said...

man thats fast... not sure I can even ride that fast in those condtions....

Dave Harris said...

'preciate the humble attitude but I wouldn't bet against you. You've done some serious morphing the past year.

Geoff said...

mr. nice brings up a good point: in the past 4 years of this race there have only been 9 bikers to finish faster than 4:15! and this is a race that draws some of the best ultra endurance mountain bikers in the world. 3 of these 9 are mike curiak, jay perervary, and pete basinger. if you follow endurance mt. biking and don't live under a rock then you know how fast these 3 are. the year that steve broke the foot record Pete B. finished just 2.5 hours ahead of steve!

and DH, thanks for the kind words, but i really wouldn't bet too much if i were you :)

Jill said...

The runners vs. bikers time isn't a great comparison on the Iditarod Invitational, because often trail and weather conditions put the two on a more even playing field than one would assume. While the strong bikers still nearly always make it to McGrath first, the strong runners are still usually only 15-30 percent slower. Pit a 100-mile mountain bike race against a 100-mile trail run, and you'll see a much bigger spread among the leaders. Closer to 50-60 percent.

It's no wonder that the runners have made it to Nome before the bikers in several of the past races. Over that kind of distance, with so many unknowns, a bicycle is almost a disadvantage.

But it sure is fun. And I'm sure not going to ditch the bike. Still I think, no matter how much I train and work to get better at snowbiking, it will be an amazing string of luck on my part if I can beat Geoff in this race. His two feet are going to carry him into McGrath before my Pugsley can, no doubt about it.

WynnMan said...

Geoff, YOU'LL DO GREAT! A great resource with awesome stories about his multiple experiences with this race is my friend and arrowhead RD Pierre Ostor. He said the Iditarod trail race is unbelievably tough. Last year he did the 350 mile bike. His stories of basic survival from a storm and getting off trail were astounding. He pretty much pushed his bike for much of the distance. I would definitely go by foot. This is one of those races where you just have to be patient and let the race evolve. POWER WALKING! big change from running, especially the way you've been smokin those courses this year. I plan on doing arrowhead in 2009. Also since this is a multi-day event, You can definitely train for something like this, but like most multi day runners they don't stray far from their normal training. Basically racing yourself into shape. I know Jason Dorgan who completed the Ice Age Trail this year (1000+ miles) He said he felt like absolute crap! and it was only after the first day! but the body and mind become accustomed I think and if the motivation is there, than anything can happen. What's so damn tough about the winter races like this, is not so much your conditioning, but the weather elements/distance, and at arrowhead, there is only one aid station.

Looks like you're enjoying some well deserved break time, and great to see you're exploring new areas, enjoy the pics.

olga said...

Not that I am an expert...but just as you moved from whatever 10k to longer races through 50M and 100M, you will eventually wrap your mind around this one and the fact taht you have to go 4-5 days 75M each. Think of multi-day races and across-the-country, or throug-hikes. Aren't they scared? When I talked to Horton, he says he doesn't even think about it, he just focuses on day right in front of him, tomorrow is another day.
Yep, you'll be there in no time:)

Mallie said...

I agree with Dave. I think that your performance in the last few races where you've smashed records is an indicator that with the proper training (which we know you'll do), mixed with your incredible natural ability, you're capable of amazing feats.

Jill said...

Olga, Mallie ...

Easy for you guys to say. If Geoff ever tries to compete at Steve's insane level ... sleeping four hours total in five days, going out regardless of weather, be it a whiteout blizzard or -60 degree deep freeze ... I'll kill him. I really will. Steven is a real nutjob with no regard for his own life or limb. That's why he's the best :-)

Dorothea said...

I thought "Alaska" and "nutjob" went together. Just for grins, I did a websearch on the two terms and found among other things a reference to Ted Stevens and...Jill! Hey, just goes to show ya that not all nuts are bad.

Do the best you can, Geoff, (I'm sure you will) and *I'll bet* you'll still surprise yourself. ;)

Dorothea said...

(whoops, did not mean to imply that Ted Stevens should be included in the good nuts bag...)

Mallie said...

I know this is your blog, Geoff, but this reply is for Jill! :)

I didn't say Geoff had to put his life on the line to set these records!!! I said his natural ability and his fierce dedication to training meant he could accomplish just about anything.

And you know darned good and well that the best way to get a guy to do something nuts is to threaten him with death, divorce or dismembering!!!

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