Multisport Magazine Issue 22 - Page 18

SECTION HEADING IDITAROD. AL ASKAN WINTER. 1,000 MILES. Y ou may immediately think of the sled dog race, held each year across 1,000 miles in the remote, cold wintry heart of Alaska. This story is about a human powered race that covers the same course. The Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) is rated as one of the top ten extreme, ultra-endurance races in the world. The ITI began in 2000 and the finisher's list has around 65 names – some of the hardest, most stubborn and determined winter athletes in winter sport, and in 2016 I added my name to that list, making history as the first Aussie to complete this incredible race. More people climb Mt Everest EACH DAY than have finished the ITI! 18 | MULTISPORT MAGAZINE The ITI is a race you need to qualify for via a select series of winter races, submit a resume´of your experience to the race directors, endure and survive whatever Alaska will throw at you. There are three distances comprising 130, 350 and 1,000 miles, with one of three disciplines to choose – bike, foot or ski. You must complete the 350 to qualify for an invitation for the 1,000. There are two routes on the 1,000 – the north route for even numbered years and the south route for odd years. The race starts around the end of February or early March in the midst of an unrelenting Alaskan winter. The ITI in its current format has been running since 2000, but racers have been competing since 1989 when the first bikers made it to Nome. This is a tough, unique endurance race that requires specialist gear and knowledge, held in a remote, wild and unforgiving landscape. Competitors compete solo, totally self supported. These last 2 points really appealed to me in a world slowly being sanitised for mass consumption and weakest links, it was refreshing to have an event that put responsibility solely on the racer. Bill Merchant (race owner and director) is a hard man, having raced the ITI many times, and he sums it up well. “Sometimes when you offer too much support you cheat the true adventurer out of a big part of why they are on the trail. They come to race, to confront and