Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Couple Fun Links

Back in Colorado after an Awesome weekend up in Bellingham at the Chuckanut 50k. Congrats to Adam Campbell and Ellie Greenwood for their wins up there in some pretty crappy conditions. It's hard to think of two nicer and more deserving people in the sport, even if they are Canadian :-) Also a huge congratulations to everyone who ran on Saturday. I've never seen so many people come across a finish line with blood on their legs, but just about everyone seemed to be in a great mood. It was really cool to see so many friends out doing what they love.

Wanted to post a couple quick links to some new things floating around the internet since last week:



Friday, March 16, 2012

Big News For Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camps

Due to high demand, and to some changes in some of my other plans for this Summer, I have decided to add a 4th session to the Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camps this Summer! The new session will take place on August 4-9th, and enrollment is currently open for this session. This will be a 4 day / 5 night session so the cost will be $200 less than the June and July sessions which are 5 day / 6 night. Other than this, everything will be the same as the other Summer sessions. Click here for all the info.

Also, it is worth mentioning that a few folks are opting to transfer from the other sessions into this new session. Most of these spaces in the other sessions are being filled by wait listed applicants, but after the dust settles in the next few days there are likely to be a few unexpected spaces available in the other sessions as well. The good news here is that for a very short time, there may be a small amount of space available in each of the 4 sessions. I don't expect this to last long at all though, so if you are interested I highly recommend signing up ASAP as I expect I will be back to wait listing entrants very soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Last ITI Post

I promise this will be my last Iditarod Invitational related post (at least until next year), but I have a few more ITI related loose ends to mention:

First of all here are links to a couple good articles about the race:

And then one last thing I want to include is a HUGE rave about Drymax socks. I've been using these socks for over a year now, and you've heard me rave about them before, but this time they shocked me yet again. I ran pretty much all day for a full week, almost entirely in one pair of Drymax socks, and I didn't get a single blister! I didn't even change my socks once for the last 5 days of the race! I know I've said this on this blog already, but if you haven't yet tried Drymax socks, you're missing out on BY FAR the best running socks money can buy.

Heading up to Chuckanut this weekend to hangout, help with the race, and see lots of friends - old and new. Should be a really exciting race and a great weekend among so many great people. Looking forward to seeing many of you there.

Monday, March 12, 2012

ITI Gear List: Imagine Dragging All This Stuff 350 Miles!

First I want to mention that my full race report has been published over on iRunFar. It's long, so make sure you have 15 or 20 minutes before you try to tackle it. You can find it here.

Also, as mentioned in my previous post, I put some videos from the race over on YouTube. Find those here. 

Lastly, I've had a lot of people inquire about what exactly one takes with them to make it through the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Here's my complete list of gear with some notes about the handful of things that I would leave home next time, and the things which I found most necessary/effective. This was all carried on a "sled" which consisted of a Mountain Hardwear 60 liter (prototype) pack that was strapped to a pair of youth cross country skis with a light wooden frame on top of them to give the pack about 5" of clearance over the ground. The "sled" was pulled with a set of aluminum ski poles, attached to the pack on one end, and to a standard backpack harness on the other.

I started the race with about 10,000 calories of food and had 2 drop bags along the way in which I would       replenish this supply. You can also get meals along the way at most of the checkpoints. I estimate that I consumed about 7,000 calories per day during the race, consisting of the checkpoint meals and the following:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • cashews
  • bacon
  • salami
  • Ultragen drink mix - recover on the go.
  • Clif shot gels - mostly with caffeine, could have used more of these.
  • Clif shot bloks
  • Reese's peanut butter sticks - awesome trail junk food. don't change consistency at all in the cold.
  • Clif kid zfruit
  • Clif Crunch Granola bars
  • Fritos
  • Clif shot roks
  • Freeze Dried backpacker meals that I would "cook" at checkpoints and carry in a thermos. Also cooked one out on the trail. These were a bit of a luxury, but very nice to have. 

Head clothing/gear:
  • Mountain Hardwear Heavyweight Power Stretch Gloves. these little gloves are amazing. sometimes these are all I would wear, even in temps as low as 10 or 20 below!
  • Gordini Lavawool insulated gloves. Loose enough to fit over power stretch gloves.
  • Mountain Hardwear Nilas Down Mitts.  Large enough to fit over both above gloves. Only needed to put these on once, but they were awesome. With all three of these things on my hands at once I don't think my hands could ever get cold. 
  • Montrail Mountain Masochist Outdry shoes, size 11.5. One full size large to accommodate thick socks and foot swelling. 
  • RBH designs vapor barrier socks. Didn't use them at all. Probably wouldn't take them next time. Although it was nice having them in my kit as a safety net for my feet.
  • The North Face NSE Tent Bootie. Used these to keep feet warm while sleeping. They were awesome to have, but are quite bulky and I would likely leave them at home next time.
  • 4 pair of DryMax socks: 1 thin pair to wear under vapor barrier socks and 3 heavy pair. This was way too many socks. I only ended up using 2 of the 4 pair, and would probably only bring 2 with me in the future. These socks are amazing though. Wore one single pair for the last 5 days, without taking them off my feet and I didn't have a single blister!
  • Yaktrak XTR spikes. Great for traction on hard packed or icy trail. I probably used these for almost 100 of the 350 miles.
  • Atlas Race Snowshoes. I was a bit nervous whether these would be durable enough if I actually had to wear them a lot. Turns out I wore them for over 200 miles and they were awesome. no durability issues.
  • Mountain Hardwear NutShell High Gaiters. Wore these every step of the way. You could go with a shorter/lighter gaiter, but really liked the full coverage that these provided. Will probably use the same ones next time around.  
Upper Body Clothing:
Lower Body Clothing:
  • Mountain Hardwear Super Power Tights.  Awesome baselayer. Wore for about 275 miles.
  • Mountain Hardwear Tanglewood pants. Wore every single step of race. awesome pants.
  • Mountain Hardwear Epic pants. Never wore them. Probably wouldn't bring them next time. Same as Tunnabora jacket above.
  • Mountain Hardwear Compressor pant. These pants are awesome, but I did only wear them twice while I was stopped to sleep. To actually put them on while on the go it would likely have to drop to 60 below or colder. For comfortable sleep though they are worth every ounce. I would guess they add at least 15 or 20 degrees to my sleeping comfort level (in conjunction with the Nilas jacket). I would consider leaving them at home, but most likely would bring them next time. 
  • 2 pair Patagonia briefs. Would probably only bring one next time. Although I did somehow leave a pair at one of the checkpoints so I guess it was good that I brought 2. 
Snow Melting Gear:
  • Esbit pocket "stove". Worked perfect for the 2 or 3 times that I needed to melt some snow for water.
  • Aluminum windscreen for stove.
  • 12 Esbit fuel cubes. Had access to more in drop bags if needed. Also great for starting fires if needed.
  • waterproof/windproof matches
  • mini butane lighter. stored next to body to keep warm enough to actually work
  • 3 ounce bottle of HEET to help ignite esbit cubes in extreme cold or as emergency fire starter.
  • lexan spoon
  • GSI Outdoors 1 liter kettle
  • Mountain Hardwear Fluid 6 backpack worn under all insulation layers.  
  • Camelbak Stowaway 70 ounce insulated bladder, used inside Fluid 6 pack. This worked great, but next time I would probably bring the 100 ounce version as I did run out of water 3 or 4 times.
  • Outdoor Research insulated bottle holder with 20 ounce bottle. Probably would leave the insulated holder at home next time, as I found just sticking the bottle inside my jacket kept it thawed much longer. 
  • Thermos brand soup thermos. This was entirely a luxury item to be able to have hot soup, coffee, tea along the trail. This was awesome to have and although not necessary I would have a hard time not bringing this with me again. 
  • ultralight pack cover to put over entire pack/sled system in case of rain/wet snow. Never used it. Probably wouldn't bring it next time, unless forecast was for very warm weather.
  • Small bottle of liquid ski wax for skis on sled. Not sure if this was helping much at all, but it certainly didn't hurt.
  • several small spare parts and repair kit for sled, harness, pack, etc. Included duct tape, screws, needle and thread, caribeener, and some other small items.
  • basic first aid including moleskin, arnica gel, neosporin, ankle brace, tape, ace bandage, gauze, band-aids, and a few other very small items
  • various pills including ibuprofen, tums, multivitamins, Scaps, and melotonin. 
  • small leatherman multi-tool
  • earplugs
  • small tube of body glide
  • sunbloc
  • chapstick
  • toothpaste/brush
  • toilet paper
  • 2 Petzl Tikka XP headlamps with lithium batteries
  • 1 petzl E Lite.
  • Small mp3 player that runs on AAA lithium battery.
  • 6 extra lithium batteries for lights, and access to more at drop bags.
  • Camera
  • Cash, Credit Card, and Driver's License, needed to purchase food along trail and for flight back to Anchorage at finish. 
  • trail notes, directions, and maps. 
  • Chemical hand, toe, body, and foot warmers. I started the race with about 2 of each and had access to more at my 2 drop bags. I only used 2 pair of foot warmers (and none of the others) the entire race. Would probably carry several fewer of these next time. 
  • keychain compass/thermometer. Next time I might try to find one that goes lower than 35 below as mine was bottomed out most of the last 12 hours that I was on the trail. 
  • reflective stickers plastered all over my sled and harness. 
  • 2 heavy duty trash compactor bags to use in case of open water or overflow. Luckily I never had to use these, but I would probably bring them again unless I opted for some other system of being waterproof up to at least my knees. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I'm slowly easing back into "normal life" after a week out on the Iditarod Trail. That was without question the most challenging, satisfying, profound, and EPIC adventure I have ever been involved in. It's really hard to put it into words, but I have made that attempt and will be posting the full race report on Monday morning. It will be posted over on iRunFar so you can watch there on Monday or check back here as I will have a link to it shortly after it's online.

In the meantime I have been uploading some videos to YouTube that I took during the race. Unfortunately the battery on my camera died around mile 230, but the videos do a decent job of capturing some of what I was experiencing up to that point. You can see them all HERE

And thanks to everyone for all the great emails, facebook messages, texts, phone calls, etc in the past week since I finished the race. I wish I had the time/energy to respond directly to all of them, but for most of this week it's been hard for me to respond to anything. I've pretty much been doing nothing but sleeping, eating, and complaining about how much my lower legs/feet ache. I'm starting to feel a lot better though, and maybe I'll even go out for a walk tomorrow.