In Anchorage now tending the the final details in preparation for my Iditarod Trail adventure which begins on Sunday afternoon. This is to say, mostly just waiting around here for two more days. All the final details are pretty much taken care of at this point. It is amazing when preparing for something like this though how many times one can pack and repack their kit. Even after packing and repacking it several dozens times at home in the past couple months.
I came down with a pretty nasty stomach, throat, head illness late last week, but that seems to have moved entirely through my system and I feel as physically ready as I could ever feel for an event like this. I ended up getting in a pretty good bit of "training" in the past 5 or 6 weeks. I didn't run as much this Winter as I would have originally planned to, but I feel like I'm in a great spot both physically and mentally. Does this mean I will definitively have a "successful" race? Most certainly not. But to me this uncertainty is one of the greatest appeals to this event.
In a "typical" single day race I think you can be so prepared that you can just about be certain of your ability to at least finish the race (with the exception of illness or injury). In this event though, I just don't think it matters how prepared you are for the Iditarod Invitational, it's still questionable as to whether you'll be able to make it to the finish. There are some aspects of this dynamic that make this a very intimidating and unappealing thing. At times it seems kind of silly to put so much time and energy into preparing for something which I have such a high chance of not fully accomplishing. At the end of the day though this is precisely why this event is so appealing to me. There is such an elusiveness to it that I really like. I have tried to walk/run to Mcgrath twice before, and yet I have still not been beyond about mile 145 of the route. I have such a curiosity of what lies beyond, in the those remaining 200 miles. Not only a curiosity about those actual 200 miles of trail, but more specifically a curiosity of what my experience of travelling to that point will be. Which things will be unlocked in me that I've never really seen and felt before. And the fact that it's entirely possible that I won't actually make it beyond this distance is somehow really exciting to me. I feel really good about my chances of finishing the full 350 mile route this time around, but I also feel really good and excited about the reality that doing so is going to be really hard, and something which I most certainly can not take for granted.
This race is without question the hardest race I have ever done in terms of the physical strength, persistence. and capability to finish it, but it's the mental and emotional opportunity for self exploration, self questioning, and self confirmation that comes with this kind of challenge that is so exciting and alluring to me. I took two years off from trying this event, not because I didn't want to do it those years, but because I think that was what I needed to do to adequately prepare myself for trying it again. I think now I am in the right place to at least go out there and be brave enough to attempt this thing again. Does that mean that I'm certain to finish? Most certainly not, but I'm as certain as I'll ever be. And it's that lack of certainty that I'm the most looking forward to.