If you ask most people what the Iditarod is, the majority of people would say a dog sled race across Alaska, and they would be right. Joe Reddington who started the Iditarod dog sled race wanted the Iditarod to be more, for the route to be open to more user groups. one thing lead to another and eventually a ski race would form followed by a bike race. The original bike race started off using standard tires, but with time it evolved with people welding two even three wheels together, creating more of a surface area for flotation. with the progression of fat bikes, this activity has become eaiser, but the Iditarod Trail Invitational still a beast of a race.
The first year the Iditarod Trail was raced in full was 2000, and since then only 42 people have finished the 1000 mile trek from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Being able to register for the 1,000 mile version of the Iditarod Trail Invitational is no easy feat, you must qualify. In order to do so you need to race and finish one of these seven winter ultras. If you are lucky enough to finish one of those races, you then qualify for the Iditarod 350. In order to race the full Iditarod, you must complete the 350 mile route to McGrath. Bottom line, the qualifiers slowly sift out the contenders from the pretenders.
Both the 350 and 1,000 mile races start from Anchorage this Sunday at 2:00pm. While Minnesota has been plagued with one of its coldest winters in years, Alaska has been extremely warm and dry up until last week. The January thaw turned the course into a sketchy sheet of ice in places, almost forcing the Iditarod dog sled race organizers to change start locations. Luckily more seasonable weather approached last week dropping snow and lowering temperatures just in time for race day.There will be 54 total competitors that will line up at Knik Lake, 40 of them will be competing on fat bikes. 16 of those bikers will attempt the 1,000 mile trek to Nome. It is hard to pick a favorite for the two races, especially with varying trail conditions. Jay Petervary broke the record of the 350 mile route last year finishing in 2 days 19 hours and 16 minutes. This year it is anyones guess as to who will pull forward, but keep an eye out for Kevin Breitenbach (3rd place last year), Tim Berntson (2nd place last year), and Peter Basinger (six time winner). Jeff Oatly will be a name to watch in the 1,000 mile route, he tied for 2rd last year in the 350 and finally said it was time to take on the full meal deal.
Whatever does happen, these athletes have made it this far. To be out their challenging themselves on one of the hardest endurance routes in the world is an accomplishment in itself. We wish everyone the best of luck and hope everyone finishes happy and healthy.Current Records:
350 Mile Route: Jay Petervary – Idaho, USA – 2013 – 2 days 19 hours 16 minutes
1000 Mile Route (north): Mike Curiak – Colorado,USA – 2002- 17 days 2 hours
1000 Mile Route (south): Jay Petervary – Idaho,USA – 2011 17 days 6 hours
350 Mile Route: Eszter Horanyi – Colorado, USA – 2013 – 3 days 16 hours 20 minutes
1000 Mile Route (north): Tracey Petervary – Idaho,USA – 2010 – 18 days 6 hours
1000 Mile Route (south): Tracey Petervary-Idaho, USA – 2011 – 18 days 6 hours 30 minutes