Saturday, 8 March 2008


In my last entry, I wrote about a lack of change on my daily commute. One reason I may not have observed much is because, recently, I've been distracted by the fascinating story of the Iditarod Ultrasport endurance race. Through 'Up In Alaska', Jill in Juneau introduced me to another world, full of interesting characters seeking a huge challenge in stamina and survival. Men and women, from all over the world, who go to Alaska to take on the extremes of an Alaskan winter by crossing a remote wilderness. They test themselves against themselves, the incredibly cold weather, the terrain and, if strength remains, against each other. The emphasis is on endurance rather than on the racing.

Jill's write-up of her experience is a fascinating insight into what the competitors endure. Her frank and honest account of each stage of the race includes descriptions of not just the physical pain and challenge of fighting raging winds, frostbite and bivouacing in extremely low temperatures, but also the effect that wilderness, isolation and physical exhaustion has on a competitor's mental state. Getting to the finish is a major achievement. Thanks Jill for sharing with us and well done to all those who took part. The 350 mile race is over but there are some continuing on to Nome for the 1100 mile distance. 44 competitors started and 29 finished the 350 mile race. The competitors going to Nome are currently around the 700 mile mark. For them the scale of the task would appear to be an order of magnitude harder as they battle Arctic blizzards and push their heavy bikes for hundreds of miles. Respect.

Joe Johnstone (on foot), from the UK and the the youngest competitor, scratched with an ankle injury after Puntilla (mile 165)
Alan Tilling (on foot) scratched at Nikolai (mile 300)
Christian Cullinane (on bike) suffered because his tyres weren't fat enough but, in the face of adversity, made it to the finish. His story is a
Carl Hutchins (on bike) was fourth at the 350 mile stage and is currently with the top three going to Nome.

News from the race is at where there are links to photos and the messageboard.

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