Waiting for the first runner in the 2019 ITI
Women in the ITI
Women in the ITI are just as tough as any other athlete in the race. This year we have Rebecca Rusch in first place. She has been an endurance racer for more than 20 years and is known as the Queen of Pain.
At 50 she wanted to do something that challenged her. She took first place in the women’s division.
There were 10 women in the race this year out of 82 participants. It seems like a small number, but it is pretty average. 3 women scratched for different reasons.
The women’s field has been small over the years, but the women that attempt the ITI are pretty special. As race organizers and coaches in our training camps we are especially proud of Cheryl Wallace and Nina Pebbles who participated in the camp this year and completed the 150 mile event with shining colors!
Only 7 women ( 3 on foot ) and 4 by fat bike have made the 1000 mile journey to Nome since the year 2000.
Missy Schwarz and Kimberly Riggs are attempting to go to Nome this year. They are currently in McGrath. They would only be number 8 and 9 making the trip to Nome under human power.
1000 miles on the Iditarod Trail is not only 3 times as far as McGrath but it exponentially more difficult.
The 350 mile event is a race, but riding or hiking to Nome is a real adventure and winter expedition that takes a lot of training, experience, knowledge and mental as well as physical strength to accomplish.
Trail Conditions between Rohn and McGrath
Daytime temperature is in the 20s, nights -10F
This side of the mountains is in the rain shadow of the Alaska Range. This means there is often little or no snow. This year there are 12 miles of ice, rocks and dirt. This is fast for the fat bikes, but slowing down the runners dragging a sled.
There is a BLM shelter cabin 50 miles from Rohn. Some racers stopped there to rest, sleep and dry gear.
It is really remote and desolate country when racers leave Rohn. In past years the race has seen -40 F all the way from Rohn to McGrath. This year the coldest temperatures were in the -25 to -30 F range. Heading into Nikolai there is always a breeze, a stiff wind blowing at your face.
Our Nikolai check point volunteers George and Lucas are working hard today and all night to take care of racers and grill burgers for them.
1000 mile race
Troy Sczurkowski, John Logar, Jose Bermudez and Petr Ineman are on route to Nome. It appears they are pushing their bikes judging by their progress and speed. Until the Iditarod Trail brakers come by, there is no trail on the South Route. No anyone can put it in, it is hard to find your way across there. The ITI does not break trail to Nome only to McGrath. The events are times this way that the 1000 mile racers will have a trail and all the activity that the Iditarod race brings with it. Another bonus for the racers heading to Nome is that they get to see the Iditarod dog sled teams on the trail.
Kathi Merchant from McGrath