1000 miles in Alaska at the Iditarod Trail Invitational

By Dan Stinton

Just as we’re easing into spring here in the UK, our thoughts are turning towards lighter evenings, warmer trail running and sipping G&Ts by the BBQ.  But before we get into that, let’s take a look at what happened on the lower end of the temperature scale at the Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) over the last… well… month!

ITI started on the 24th Feb at Knik Lake, Alaska. It is billed as the world’s longest winter ultra-marathon and attracts the best international winter ultra athletes. There are 75 places, and entrants compete on foot, bike or skis.

With three distances to choose from, even if you opt for the shortest, you’re still going to have to cover 150 miles in up too five days.  The next option is 350 miles, where racers have up to 10 days to reach the finish. They must carry all of their gear and there are only six checkpoints and two supply drops. They will encounter mountains and temperatures as low as -50 degrees C.

Next up is the almost unthinkable ITI1000.  Athletes must have successfully completed ITI350 as well as demonstrate their abilities of winter survival skills to be considered for entry into the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness. Even then, only the most qualified applicants will be selected each year.

The Iditarod trail only exists in its entirety in February and March. It melts in the spring and then becomes impassable. It follows frozen rivers and swamps, crosses the Alaska Range, runs alongside 150 miles of the frozen Yukon River, takes athletes across frozen sea ice along the Bering Sea Coast before finishing in the gold-rush town of Nome.

RunUltra have been following the action since the start which has been published on our forum. Without taking anything away from the other disciplines, here’s the results from the foot race.

ITI150

Maren Bradley – 2d 23h 6m – Women’s Foot Champion
Manfred Krause – 3d 0h 38m – Men’s Foot Champion
Stephan Huss – 3d 0h 38m – Men’s Foot Champion
Takao Kitada – 3d 4h 47m

ITI350

Rob Henderson – 5d 7h 2m – Men’s Foot Champion
Piotr Chadovich – 6d 1h 13m
Paul Schlagel – 6d 9h 35m
Steve Hayes – 6d 12h 25m

ITI1000

Beat Jegerlehner – 25d 5h 11m – Foot Champion

"With three distances to choose from, even if you opt for the shortest, you’re still going to have to cover 150 miles in up to five days."

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