Sunday, March 22, 2009

Iditarod Trail Invitational - Part 1

Okay, here is the beginning report that you have all been waiting for, the Alaska Ultra Sport 350.

Chuck and I began the 350 mile race on March 1st, along with Tim Hewitt and Tom Jarding who were doing the 1100 mile race. We met James Leavesley at the Minneapolis airport, he was going to attempt the 1100 mile race on a snow bike. Our flight from Pittsburgh was delayed so we did not arrive in Anchorage until Friday evening. We spent the evening hanging out with other races at a local bike shop which hosted a pizza and beer party for everyone.

It snowed all day on Saturday and we debated how the foot or so of new snow would affect the trail when we began on Sunday. The race organizers do a great job of transporting everyone to the start and the bus picked us up promptly at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday for the ride to the start at Knik Lake. The Knik bar was not aware of our impending arrival and had a little trouble keeping up with food orders prior to the start because they did not have enough staff. It was cool to spend some time with others racers. Eric Johnston, who we met last year was at the bar getting some last minute calories. Here is a picture of us at the start, that is a cheeseburger in my hand.

The weather was pleasant, with sun, and temps in the twenties. The trail was well packed and the start was picture perfect. In the small world category, Doug, who sat next to me on the flight to Anchorage was at the start taking pictures. He was from Denver and was in town visiting another photographer friend who dragged him to the start.

Our sleds performed well and we quickly settled into a comfortable pace. Our first goal was to get to the sign for Nome before dark, so that we could get a few pictures of the sign with the Kennywood arrow. The temps began dropping and the wind picked up so when we got to the sign, it was time to add another layer of clothing and get prepared for a long cold night on the lakes, swamps and rivers before arriving at the first checkpoint. When participating in a race that lasts a week or more, it is hard to get into the proper mindset in the early hours of the race. With this in mind, we continued on into the night, heading toward Flathorn Lake, the Great Dismal Swamp and the Big Susitna River.

This is when we encountered our first obstacle.....

Spring in Pittsburgh

It has been a few weeks since my last post and I decided it was time to get going again. I spent the last week getting caught up after returning from the Alaska Ultra Sport race. Here is a quick recap of what has been going on in the area. I will post my race report separately. I did get to put the Kennywood sign up but did not have time to get a Terrible Towel to the bar in McGrath.

Saturday, March 21st was spent helping out at the J.C. Stone 50k race here in North Park. This was the second year for the race. Lou D. and the Rotary volunteers are doing an excellent job of improving the race. There were 47 runners who started, and a lot of fast times.

Dave Micklo sent me the list of runners who ran a Mingo last month, I will have them on the website shortly.

The Pittsburgh Marathon and Half-Marathon has sold out, pretty impressive for a race that is getting back on it's feet. I will be part of the NUGO pace team, leading the 3:50 group. If you want to hear a few stories about Alaska, join me in running 3:50 at the Pittsburgh Marathon.

Jeff Gleason was accepted to run in the Badwater 135 this year, we spent some time while volunteering at the 50k race talking about what is involved in doing the BW135. Many of you will recall that Wayne and I crewed for Mary K. a few years ago, so I had some ideas about how to make things a little smoother for Jeff's crew. Jeff and Scott F. are heading down to North Carolina for the Umstead 100 in two weeks. I told them to look up Peter Lefferts from Naples, Fl while there. Peter was very entertaining when I met him at the Deca Iron in Mexico last year.