Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Serious Return To Winter And Some Thoughts Surrounding That

So much for feeling like Spring is just around the corner. Two days ago it was over 50 here and today it's topping out at about negative 8. Supposed to go down to about 25 below tonight. Luckily it isn't windy right now or I'm not sure we'd be able to keep it warm enough in our little cabin.

All this cold has me thinking a lot about Alaska, and specifically about outdoor adventure in the winter in Alaska. More specifically than that, it has me thinking a lot about the Iditarod Trail Invitational (if you aren't' familiar with this race I highly recommend checking out the website. It still amazes me that this event really exists).

This year's version of the "ITI" occurs in March and I will most definitely not be taking part. Next year though, who knows? I've tried this race twice and dropped out both times. Part of me isn't sure why I would want to do it again. But most of me is very intrigued by the idea of doing it again. It has an appeal to it that is similar to the way I felt about the first couple 100 mile races I ever did. It's not a challenge to see how fast you can do it, but rather a challenge to see whether you can do it at all.

I miss this aspect of my athletic endeavors a bit. Back in 2008-2009 I participated in 3 events like this within a 16 month span (ITI twice and the GDR), but since July '09 I have focused entirely on "short", high performance running races. It has been really nice to put all of my energy into one type of running, and it has been very satisfying to have the success in doing this that I have had, and I am excited for the schedule of races I have lined up for the next 10 months. I do however find myself missing some of the more adventurous, longer, multi day events that have to this point been very difficult and elusive to me. Despite my lack of "success" in finishing these events, I have had some of the most fond memories of my entire life in the midst of these events. There's just something so satisfying about being out in a harsh and beautiful landscape, for days in a row, with nothing to move you forward but your own strength, stubbornness, and determination. I don't know for sure if I'll participate in the Iditarod Trail Invitational next winter, but I will certainly put a lot more thought into this over the next couple months, before I would need to sign up in April.

8 comments:

Derrick said...

Sounds like you need to make a return to ITI for your soul.

What an amazing sounding race. I really wish that it wouldn't fill so early. 50 participants in the 3 divisions isn't really that many, but I understand the reasons the RD cap it.

It's definitely on my wish list.

momroes said...

Geoff - Part of you isn't sure why you would want to do the ITI again - well, all of me isn't sure why you would want to do it again. You should realize, from past experience, how painful it is to be watching this event and not knowing (sometimes for days) where the person (or people) are that you are following. Remember - it is horrible on your mother (and all others) that are sitting in front of a computer in a nice warm house wondering how you are surviving in life threatening conditions.

When you run 100 mile races it is different watching on the computer waiting to hear from Bryon Powell than it is when you are part of so many adverse conditions and no Bryon Powell.

Just a little note for you to think about. I don't need any more gray hair.

Love you and will support you whatever you decide to do.

Derrick said...

That settles it...Powell needs to take a trip to Alaska :)

Starks said...

If you're looking for "a challenge to see whether you can do it at all", I think you should try the Barkley Marathons. What do you think about that?

Speedgoat Karl said...

Race the AT in 2012? :-)

Can't get lost, plenty of crew, and it's a 6.5 week or more adventure. AND it fits your strength well, it's ugly. I'm going back.....

Jill said...

I'm still haunted by the Iditarod Trail, too. It's such a strange obsession. I'd actually love to go back and tour the first 350 miles Curiak-style, though not as self-contained (I'd utilize commerical services at least.) Eric Parsons and I discussed the tour aspect last year, and actually seems quite doable. If I ever decided to go for the craziness of Nome, I'd definitely go expedition-style and leave my bicycle at home (thus the real motivation for the Sustina 100 this year — testing the waters on foot.)

My mom, also, will never forgive me if I go back, especially since I have less interest in using the (minimal) safety net of the race. But I'll make sure to take good care of your sled this year. I'd be excited to see what you can do in that race now that you're so much more experienced.

Dave Mackey said...

Mom's word trumps all Geoff.. but I know what you mean about the magnetic draw of the north. The one butt freezing race I ran, the Rock and Ice ultra, was incredibly unique. And it only really hurt when the wind blew on the wrong parts.

Phil said...

it's definitely addicting.