Monday, February 9, 2009


With The Iditarod Trail Invitational now less than 3 weeks away I thought I would answer some of the most common questions I get when I talk to people about this race.

-How many miles will you do each day during the race?
A typical day will probably be somewhere between 40-75 miles, but I'm sure there will be some atypical days that will fall outside of that range - it all depends on trail and weather conditions (as well of course as my physical condition).

-How much do you sleep?
My hope will be to get about 4-7 hours of sleep per 24 hours. Most racers try to go with less sleep than this but I prefer to move faster than most when I'm moving and then take a bit more time to sleep.

-How cold will it be?
I wish I knew. The weather in interior Alaska has such a huge potential range. We could easily see temperatures as low as 40 below zero, but we could also see temperatures as warm as 40 above. An average day would likely be around 10 degrees during the day and down to about 20 below at night, but the odds of it being average for all of the 5+ days that I'm out there are pretty much zero.

-How do you carry your gear?
Drag it on a pulk (sled) behind me. See this post from last winter for a detailed description of my sled.

-What do you wear on your feet?
Here's a photo to best answer this one:

Starting from the inside out: A liner sock; a standard synthetic hiking sock; neoprene socks; Montrail Wildwood TR shoes 1 size larger than normal to accomodate the extra socks; NEOS overboots; snowshoes; commericial strength trash bags (not pictured) used when encountering open water or overflow deeper than the NEOS. I also have a pair of insulated vapor barrier socks on order that I will likely use. Under the most extreme conditions I could actually be wearing all of these things at once, but if it's warmer than about 10 below and there isn't new snow I will only be wearing the first two pair of socks and the shoes. I may or may not actually bring the snowshoes with me at all. I'll probably make that decision on the trail conditions and weather forecasts the day before the race.

-Why are you doing this race?
I haven't come up with an answer for this one yet.

Any other questions?


Anonymous said...

Yes,when are you coming "home" for a longgggggggg visit and do you have any idea how much we ALL worry about you (and Jill) doing this race? I'm sure you do - we will be watching the updates on the computer round the clock. We love you and wish we could be there to cheer you on.

Derrick said...


Looking forward to following your race and hearing how it goes.

Wondering about your footwear...
I haven't tried neoprene socks and wondering if you find your feet sweat too much with them? I've used cycling booties overtop of my trail shoes which gives me a better fit as I don't have to upsize quite as much. I guess if you're looking at needing the overboot, the socks would be best though. The other problem with the cycling bootie is that the traction isn't as great, but I expect I'll be using Kahtoola Microspikes mostly.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

That might be the coolest post I've read in a while.

I have a couple of questions:
What's your goal, like 7 days?

Do you have predetermined places you'd like to reach to sleep each day or is it impossible (weather and such) to plan?

You must eat a higher percentage of fat in your diet than running a 100?

Do all the racers on foot drag their stuff in a sled (that thing is so cool)?

I'll probably think of other questions. I thought it was funny on the website that the entry is $800 and they have "t-shirt" listed on the "what you get" section. "Hey, check out my $800 t-shirt!"

This race reminds me of Will Steger's NORTH TO THE POLE book that I read in college. Eating sticks of butter while walking in -50 degrees. Badass.

Bob - said...

Like footfeathers I am curious about your fuel? and how many calories you figure per day? what kind of food is good to get in ur system Quickly when it's 5 below...figuring that the energy gels are now Popsicles :-(

When u did HURT u mentioned u fell behind a bit on fuel and downed around 500 calories quickly with gels to close out the last 10 if u fall behind here or just to keep ur ass moving what is the quick fuel plan?

So psyched to follow u along on this adventure, best wishes Geoff.

Geoff said...

derrick, yeah, i do get an almost instant clammy feeling when i run in the neoprene socks. if it's cold enough though (which is the only time i'd wear those) sweat doesn't really build up and i just need to change out/dry out my liner sock whenever a get a chance. if i do decide to use the vapor barrier socks they will be a replacement to the neoprene socks. last year i used a cycling bootie overshoe but have decided to go with the NEOS instead. since the Neos have an actual sole i think they will hold up over the long haul and i can put screws in the bottoms for traction, and they have the added benefit of making my leg 100% waterproof up to the top of my calf.

i suspect my most likely finishing time is in the 5-7 day range but i definitely don't have any "goals" pertaining to time. just hoping to find a way to make it to the end.
yep, just sleeping wherever i find a comfortable place and i'm exhausted. sometimes it'll be at checkpoints and sometimes it'll be in my bivy out on the trail.
as far as food goes, as you guessed, tons of fat and things without much water content so they're not frozen: nuts, bacon, cookies or cookie dough, candy, dense salty snacks (corn nuts, goldfish crackers, sunflower seeds, etc) perpetuem, even some powergel with me in case i need a quick boost or my stomach gets so that it doesn't want to take down any of this other food. oh, and a multivitamin each day to keep away the scurvy :) we also get a cooked meal (of varying quality) at each of the checkpoints which provide a huge boost both physically and mentally.

yeah, all the foot racers drag their gear on sleds. it's pretty much the only way to go with the amount of weight we'll have (20-30 pounds).

i would love to take in at least 7,500 calories per day. quick energy from foods (i.e. gels and other carb based things) isn't really too much of a concern in an event like this. i will carry some gel with me for times when i do feel like i need a quick pick me up but my pace will be so slow and the overall duration of the race so long that i will be focused much more on trying to keep my fat stores elevated enough so i'm not too much a skeleton by the finish.

Hone said...

Your so crazy!!

Good luck out there. If you pass out on the trail maybe Ann will throw you on her sled and pull you across the finish line.

But serious it is cool you are doing this race because it is a low key race that most people have never heard of. Sure you could run a race down south and receive more glory but I do not think you would have the same personal satisfaction as completing this one.

Give it hell. And dont eat the yellow snow!!

Anonymous said...

, yer socks are dirty

Simon Kennett said...

Good luck, Geoff!

AucillaSinks said...

It was exciting last year watching your incredible process - until you scratched, dag gummit. This year, I'm betting you stay healthy all the way to McGrath. And if you do, my money is you'll be the first foots to cross the line.

Are you using the same kiddie sled that you used last year or have you upgraded?

Good luck Geoff!
Did Mom send you a Spot too?

Geoff said...

yep, same sled as last year.
and yeah, i'll have a spot with me.

Anonymous said...


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