All this cold has me thinking a lot about Alaska, and specifically about outdoor adventure in the winter in Alaska. More specifically than that, it has me thinking a lot about the Iditarod Trail Invitational (if you aren't' familiar with this race I highly recommend checking out the website. It still amazes me that this event really exists).
This year's version of the "ITI" occurs in March and I will most definitely not be taking part. Next year though, who knows? I've tried this race twice and dropped out both times. Part of me isn't sure why I would want to do it again. But most of me is very intrigued by the idea of doing it again. It has an appeal to it that is similar to the way I felt about the first couple 100 mile races I ever did. It's not a challenge to see how fast you can do it, but rather a challenge to see whether you can do it at all.
I miss this aspect of my athletic endeavors a bit. Back in 2008-2009 I participated in 3 events like this within a 16 month span (ITI twice and the GDR), but since July '09 I have focused entirely on "short", high performance running races. It has been really nice to put all of my energy into one type of running, and it has been very satisfying to have the success in doing this that I have had, and I am excited for the schedule of races I have lined up for the next 10 months. I do however find myself missing some of the more adventurous, longer, multi day events that have to this point been very difficult and elusive to me. Despite my lack of "success" in finishing these events, I have had some of the most fond memories of my entire life in the midst of these events. There's just something so satisfying about being out in a harsh and beautiful landscape, for days in a row, with nothing to move you forward but your own strength, stubbornness, and determination. I don't know for sure if I'll participate in the Iditarod Trail Invitational next winter, but I will certainly put a lot more thought into this over the next couple months, before I would need to sign up in April.