This is my 17th year with the event as RD, competitor or checker and I am impressed with the quality of people that sign up for this event in their human qualities as well as athletic abilities.
Today is day 4 of the event reporting from the finish line in McGrath.
12 racers have finished the 350 mile race in McGrath, among them 2 women.
13 athletes finish the new 150 mile distance at Rainy Pass Lodge.
There are many more athletes on the trail, runners, 2 skiers.
15 athletes have scratched. Some of them with frostbite on hands, feet and face, others with physical issues. After the start the temperature dropped to -25 F on the Yentna River. Other reasons to scratch are physical issues like knees or respitory issues or starting the race with a co
The reasons why people scratch or get frostbite are numerous. Maybe the wrong gear, not using the gear or additional clothing at the right time, not adjusting layers accordingly or stepping into water or overflow and not knowing how to deal with it.
In 2017 it was the wind. The wind changes everything on the Iditarod Trail. It pushes the wind chill down to much colder temperatures where frostbite becomes more likely, Dehydration is a contributing factor with frostbite. Stepping into overflow. For those not from Alaska overflow is water on top of ice. The water comes to the surface after heavy snowfalls. It can even be under the snow and not visible.
There are also injuries from falls off the bike and overuse injuries for runners like shin splints.
Another reason to scratch is when people’s head is not in it. Their mind is not free enough to do it. There is a lot of mental preparation going into this event.
There frozen rivers we travel on, open water, there could be overflow, open creek crossing, angry moose,
Getting wet feet or falling into a river or overflow at -25 F is a dangerous situation. And it has happened to racers.
What they do next after an event where they get wet in these extreme temperatures might decide whether they freeze toes or slip into hypothermia.
Some people travel to Alaska from Europe or from other states and they catch a cold on the plane which then turns into bronchitis and other pulmonary issues breathing cold and dry air for hours and days on end.
41 Racers still on the Trail
The day started at -10 F, Rebecca Rusch was the first woman to finish.
Janice Tower a local cyclist and cycling coach from Anchorage and her brother Matt finish in McGrath this afternoon.
No runner has finished yet. David Johnson’s 4 days and 1 hour record is safe. It will be hard to get event close to that time. That’s 82 miles per day on foot.
Rob Henderson is leading the running division. He is a rookie in the ITI, but has two finished in the top 5 in the Arrowhead and a win in the Rovaniemi 300 in Finland, both ITI qualifiers. He is from Minneapolis.
We have two skiers in the event. Veteran and Anchorage local Lars Danner and Norwegian skier in the lead Asbjorn Bruun.
The weather forecast for the week is more of the same, no wind, 20’s in the daytime, below zero at night.
The Rohn and Nikolai check points are busy with racers passing through.
A shout out to all the volunteers, lodges, check points, Trail brakers,participants and sponsors that make this event happen!