Kilian and Emelie break records at Mount Marathon, Alaska.

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Dynamic duo, Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet both established new records over the weekend at Alaska’s Mount Marathon, one of the oldest races in the World.

Kilian posted on facebook after his record time of 41:48:

What an incredible experience, Mount Marathon Race in only 5km and 1000m up and down in technical terrain, with a fantastic atmosphere and level, is one of the most spectacular races I have done!

Taking place on Saturday, 4th July the race was full of drama and excitement. It’s like a huge party as many people get together to support all the runners. So many people said,  ‘We come year-after-year to cheer everyone on as they climb at the top of Mount Marathon.’

KilianMountMarathon

Image ©marklester – ADN

Starting just 14m above sea level, the race is an explosive 5 km and reaches a high point of 921m over a very technical climb and descent. At the summit, fiords and glaciers can be observed but runners have no time to look around. A frantic descent leads the runners back to Seward town centre and it is from the summit that Kilian broke away from Rickey Gates and Jim Shine to gain victory:

‘Jornet delivered a rocketing downhill in his race debut, seized victory in the 88th edition of Alaska’s oldest and most prestigious footrace in 41 minutes, 48 seconds. That performance lopped 67 seconds off three-time champion Eric Strabel’s 2013 standard of 42:55.’ – ©adn

Emelie ran the first 400 meters with Allison Ostrander, who finished in second place. But, then, Forsberg started to feel good and pulled away tothe finish line, beating the speed record of the race with a chrono of 47’48”.

‘It was so cool. I was really not thinking I could do such a good time. I know I have been training well but also I have done some vertical kilometres in my training and never felt really rested to achieve well. So this was super cool. It is a very beautiful race. I love that the women have their own start, it is an amazing atmosphere.’  – Emelie Forsberg

Emelie  will now travel to Val D’Isere and participate in the Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarentaise, a race that she has won on 2 occasions. Kilian will go to Hardrock 100 and look to repeat his 2014 victory and course record (preview HERE) but in the opposite direction.

Related Alaska Dispatch News

Great and gracious, Kilian Jornet conquers Mount Marathon in record fashion – HERE

Crown Emelie Forsberg the new queen of Alaska’s mountains – HERE

Photo’s men’s race HERE

Photo’s ladies race HERE

Watch the ladies race 2015

Watch the men’s race

HERE

Watch the 2013 record here (time 42:55)

KILIAN JORNET – The Human Carabiner

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Kilian Jornet is defining our sport and in the process is setting new records and providing inspiration to thousands, if not millions of people. Just 12-months ago, I spoke to Kilian in Zermatt. It was just days after his incredible Matterhorn Summit where he set a new record for Cervinia-Matterhorn Summit-Cervinia beating the long standing Bruno Brunod record. Looking relaxed, Kilian joins me at a table and we chat. He looks lean and in the form of his life. The sky is blue and clouds are around the base of the Matterhorn. Looking up we pause and take it in.

Interview in Spanish HERE

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It really is an incredible mountain. I turn to Kilian and ask…

IC – Do you feel nostalgic Kilian, looking up at the Matterhorn and thinking back 12-months?

KJ – Yes, I have great feelings. I-year ago I climbed from Italy (Cervinia) and today I climbed it from Switzerland (Zermatt). I have many great friends in Cervinia and very soon it will be 150-years of the Matterhorn. So many great memories; It’s such a beautiful memory.

IC – Okay, so you have just thrown this on me. You climbed the Matterhorn this morning from Zermatt?

KJ – Yes (laughs) I am not racing Matterhorn Ultraks so it’s okay. I went this morning… I was thinking to myself, it’s great weather so I decided to go. Conditions are not good though. The mountain has much more snow and the ridge was pretty icy. I had no crampons, which was a big mistake. At the summit it was very windy. I thought I might take the quick way down to Zermatt…!

IC – People say the Matterhorn is harder from Switzerland side?

KJ – The Italians say it’s harder from Cervinia and the Swiss say it’s harder from Zermatt. (He laughs) Both routes are very similar. I prefer the Italian side, it’s a narrow ridge about 500m long and you can really run. From Switzerland you go straight to the summit. It’s really beautiful and maybe a little more complicated. For me though, the Italian side is more difficult.

IC – Did you time yourself?

KJ – Hotel to hotel was 7-hours. I had planned to go down to the Italian side and come back via the pass. But the conditions were very windy and I decided to come back on the Switzerland side. It had lots of snow all the way up. I can normally climb up in good conditions in 2.5hrs but today it was 4-hours.

IC – Not the perfect time for a FKT?

KJ – No, it was really dangerous. Normally I would see 100’s of people at the summit. Today it was just me and I saw 4-people on my way down. The weather would be okay for Mont-Blanc but not here; it’s much more complicated.

 

IC – I think it’s topical we are speaking mid season. I believe the Kilian Jornet today is a different person to 1-year ago. For me, you seem to be in perfect shape. I don’t think I have seen you so fit and strong. Would you agree?

KJ – This year I feel really well. I don’t know why? I started the season in Colorado in the winter doing plenty of high altitude meters. I was great in the ski season. It was my best season in regard to my condition. I was not tired after skiing so it was a big bonus. I have raced the same number of races but I seem to be recovering so much better. I am climbing more meters and doing fewer kilometres.

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IC – It’s not unusual for you to start your run season at Transvulcania La Palma on 4-5 days running. This year you did this. You had a great race placing 2nd behind Luis. You then went to Denali and followed this with running again becoming Skyrunning World Champion. In Denali, this is not ultra running. It’s Alpinism. So tell us, what was the experience like?

KJ – It was a hard experience and fun. The weather was bad in Alaska. We stayed 21-days in the glacier and we had 3 sunny days. Everyday was snowing but we did a great number of things. We travelled very light. We would go to 4000m camp and from here everyday we would do something… we did the west ridge and then ski, we did another ridge, then I did the record, the north summit and so on. It was really nice to see. It’s possible to do something everyday. It was really interesting. I think I was surprised to come back to Chamonix and perform so well. Really I was just going to use it as training for Hardrock. In the VK I surpassed my expectation, in the marathon I knew I could do well. I lost weight in Denali.

IC – Yes for sure. You lost weight and your legs seemed smaller. Did it feel unusual to be back in Chamonix feeling like a different person?

KJ – Yes, I had small legs. It is similar to after Alpinism. It’s good for going up but coming down it has its affects.

IC – Denali unlike the Matterhorn was very much about you going and doing it. We haven’t seen the new Summits film yet, so, what did Denali involve?

KJ – It’s Skimo. You go via the plane to Anchorage and then take anther small plane to the glacier. It’s snow all the way. We didn’t take run shoes. We just used skis everyday. We had planned to acclimatize but the weather cleared and I made an attempt on the 6th day. I may have not been adapted but I was still strong. If you stay at altitude you loose strength. I had good conditions for 3-hours but the last uphill section and all the downhill had bad conditions. It was snowing and foggy. I just hoped that I could complete the summit. I added more clothes and pushed on.

IC – How do you prepare for an event like this? Do you do extensive research beforehand on maps? You make it sound casual and matter of fact but I know it’s not.

KJ – You need to be really well prepared. It’s a dangerous mountain. I looked at maps and we planned ahead, not only for the record but other adventures. I made good preparation 2-weeks before. We did 3-days to base camp and did the west ridge and ski down. It was good to see the conditions, find out what the snow was like and see if I could ski fast from the summit. You need to open your mind.

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It was great to have a small team. We were 4-people: Seb Montaz, Jordi Tosas, Vivian Bruchez and me. It’s really quick to change plans and make decisions with a small set up. For example in 5-hours I decided to attempt the record. Everyone was ready; they all knew what they had to do. It was great. Also, the team had projects that each wanted to do. All 4 of us had aspirations to achieve things whilst in Alaska.

IC – That is what is so interesting about what you do. You have very experienced people with you. In particular, Seb, he’s a great mountaineer and cameraman. We often forget he is often doing what you are doing.

KJ – For sure. You either have a small team or a big team with multiple people, helicopters, and many cameramen. The problem is budget! For example, all our team can work independently and they can all film, even myself. I like this process. We all move in the mountain, they are happy alone and that is great. We all captured images of each other. 

IC – That is going to be great to see. You followed Denali with Hardrock 100.

KJ – Three years of waiting!

IC – Yes, you got the confirmation in 2013. We all had expectations and excitement. You were racing really strong competition, Adam Campbell, Joe Grant, Seb Chaigneau, Dakota Jones, Julien Chorier and so on. You had a remarkable day; you smashed the course record. I know from pervious chats that you wasted lots of time. What was the experience like, did it live up to expectations?

KJ – It’s a beautiful race. I have run several 100-mile races and this is the best. The ambiance, the course, the spirit, it was just amazing. I arrived 1-week before and I checked all the last 100km so that I was prepared. I knew I would be in this section at night. I didn’t know the early section; I didn’t check it at all. We all started together; Seb, Adam, Timmy, Dakota and Julien. We had a big group. I felt good from the beginning. Having said that, you always feel good early. It’s just moving. After 4-5 hours I wasn’t pushing but I was pulling away. I thought to myself, maybe I will have a good day but I wanted to be cautious for the latter stages of the race. So, I waited for Julien and then I ran to km 100 with him and then the night started. After this point, I knew the course so I decided to go. It could take 9-hours if I was feeling good. I hadn’t eaten much up to this point so from here I took energy from soup and burritos. It was also really bad weather with rain and storms. I was happy to take a little time in the aid stations.

Kilian ©jordisaragossa

IC – I think you were lucky and got ahead of the worst of the storms. For example Adam Campbell had a crazy time.

KJ – Yes, this is what can happen, Handies Peak is at 4800m and 30km between aid stations, so, you are on your own. If a storm comes they don’t stop the race. You need to know what to do. If you are afraid, you stop and find shelter until the storm passes. Runners need to think and that is a good thing. We all need to think what to carry and what to do.

IC – You had Frosty (Anna Frost) and Ricky Gates as pacers. What point did they pace you?

KJ – Ricky started at 100km for the first part of the night section from Sharman. He ran around 35-40km with me. In the second part it was crazy rain. We were so cold and wet. He stopped. I continued for 10-miles alone and then met Frosty for the last 10-miles.

IC – At any point did you have the course record in mind?

KJ – Yes, you have it in your mind but I don’t race for records. I like racing a great deal. I do lots of races. My priority was to win if possible and I was also thinking of the Dolomites 1-week later…

(Laughter)

KJ – I said okay, I am doing well but don’t try to get tired! I was 20-min ahead of the record and I knew that Kyle Skaggs exploded in the latter stages when he set the record. So, if I kept my pace I knew the record was possible.

IC – As winner, you are the only male with a guaranteed place for next year. Will you be back?

KJ – Yes, for sure as it alternates direction each year.

IC – The two races are different, lets forget next year. Given what you have learnt this year, if you went back in 2-years, with what you now know. Of course weather dependant. Do you think you could make big differences to the time?

KJ – Weather is crucial and of course the feelings. Some days you feel great, like a cloud. You can’t predict these days. I had one of these days at the Matterhorn and certainly Hardrock. For sure I could go faster. I stopped 56-minutes in aid stations.

IC – And you waited for Julien 20-mins? 

KJ – Yes, I think 1-hour quicker is possible should all things align.

IC – You came back from Hardrock and surprisingly raced at Dolomites Skyrace in the VK and SkyRace just days later.

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KJ – I was happy about the VK. I was feeling recovered but after 100-miles you need recovery. The VK was super good. I placed 8th which was great. It surprised me that I could push. It motivated me for the Sky race just 2-days later.

IC – Another great victory for you, amazing really!

KJ – Yes. Thanks

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IC – Trofeo Kima is just around the corner. It’s arguably one of ‘the’ key Skyraces. Do you have any plans or intentions for Kima?

KJ – It’s difficult to discuss plans. So many variables come into play. For example, I may do some mountaineering this week, which may mean I am tired. I have The Rut and Limone Extreme too this year. After a summer of rain when the sun comes out the snow tempts me, so, I can’t resist despite what races are on my calendar.

IC – I have to say, I was watching your posts about your runs this last week. Dakota and yourself doing big days in the mountains that have lasted 7-hours. With UTMB around the corner, didn’t Dakota make that mistake before?

(Laughter)

KJ – I have often done Mont-Blanc just days before UTMB. It has altitude, great training and it doesn’t take too much energy. Dakota is strong and talented. We did this with 10-days before UTMB. He will be fine. I sometimes think he thinks too much. He needs to just run… it will be interesting to see Tony, Iker, Tofol and all the rest. I think Iker will be good. Luis Alberto he will start strong but can he maintain it? Luis has one pace, hard! Maybe he will start slower. UTMB this year will be a great race.

IC – You have Aconcagua (Summits of my Life) left for this year, December yes?

KJ – Yes, I will start in November to do ski training and then I will go back to running for Aconcagua. I’m excited as it has a high summit of 7000m. It’s not technical but it’s a tough record.

IC – And the record?

KJ – I think there are a couple of records but I don’t know the times. (In 2000 Bruno Brunod, Pelissier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes. Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones.)

KJ – I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too.

IC – Wow, nice! I guess Aconcagua will be more like the Matterhorn?

KJ – No, it’s easier. It’s rocky but not steep. The altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different.

IC – It doesn’t have the danger of the Matterhorn. Ultimately, you have Everest as the last big objective. Have you thought about this yet?

KJ – It’s completely different, it’s very high, 9000m. It’s very long and this is the biggest problem. It’s to go all this way without oxygen and fast. The route is technical. I will start on the north face to prepare. It’s quiet so I will have no problems with people. I will need to prepare. I will go in spring, autumn and maybe the following spring. As per usual with all mountains, any attempt will be weather dependant. I expect to have several attempts.

IC – If you achieve Everest and complete the Summit series, where do you go next? Your list is ticked off, do you think you will comeback to some races you have done before or do you think you will create a new sport, a combination of all your skill levels?

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

KJ – I have lots of projects. Today I climbed the Matterhorn, I looked around and suddenly projects appear. I think maybe I can go from here to here or in skiing I go down a steep line. It doesn’t need to be the highest or the longest. Nice mountains with not many people. I like this sport because of the beauty. I like aesthetic projects more than numbers. I have so many options to choose from.

IC – Do you think racing will still appeal?

KJ – Yes, I love racing. I love the ambiance. I also like it as training. I push I give it everything and you can’t do this alone, it’s boring. I will race for sure in skiing and maybe run less.

IC – Today I spoke to Marco De Gasperi, I took him back to ‘91’ when he was 16 and the formative days of Skyrunning. His first race!

KJ – Yes, it was Monte Rosa.

IC – Yes, Monte Rosa and he also did the VK. He reminded me of 2007 when you were 20 and you turned up at a race and placed 6th. He said you looked at him as though he was a hero. He now looks at you as the hero.

KJ – No, Marco is the hero.

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IC – 20+ years of Skyrunning. In the last 3-years Skyrunning has become bigger than ever and it continues to grow. Would you like to see the sport progress in anyway?

KJ – Every person is a carabiner. We all pass on and provide energy and it grows. The sport keeps the values of the beginning. However, it’s not just about distance, elevation and athletics. It’s about mountains and alpinism. More people are interested in being in the mountains, it’s not just about technical terrain, and we must look at what is around us too. The sport will grow for sure. We are seeing VK’s grow and longer races. I think in central Europe it will stay as it is but it will develop in other countries, for example the US. It’s important to grow and keep quality; we must keep the spirit.

IC – In ‘89’ when Marino Giacometti ran up Monte Rosa and came back down, it was pure mountain spirit. Up and down as fast as possible. I feel that Skyrunning is starting to go back to where it was 20-years ago. Maybe because we look at sport differently; but also you are providing a great influence. Do you think there is room for another sport outside of VK, Sky and Ultra within Skyrunning, maybe an extreme event?

KJ – Yes. I think an extreme sport would be a great idea. It has been done before as you say. It’s really important though to understand that this is mountaineering fast and not running.

IC – Alpinism without the clutter?

KJ – Yes, it’s not about being strong or fast it’s about how you climb! You need confidence and you need self-awareness. It’s another level. It will come as the sport grows but it is not for all. It’s not about kilometres it’s about mountain experience.

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IC – Kilian, once again thank you so much for your time and the inspiration.

KJ – Thank you for everything.

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Article ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Please credit as and when appropriate when sharing

Thanks

I would like to thank Kilian Jornet for his time and generosity.

Marino Giacometti and Lauri Van Houten from the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation)

Salomon Running

Seb Montaz

Jordi Saragossa

And all the wonderful races throughout the world that provides us all the opportunity to live our dreams.

Kilian Jornet sets new record in Alaska

Kilian Jornet

Breaking news from Alaska and the Summits of my Life team is that Kilian Jornet has set a new record in Alaska. A time of 11-hours and 40-minutes (tbc)

Nº6

2014: AMERICAN SUMMITS 

Mount McKinley, United States. 6.186 m

Denali is a symbol of exploration and adventure and we’ll be delving into the icy lands of Alaska to climb its frozen walls.

Image ©summitsofmylife ©kilianjornet

Image ©summitsofmylife ©kilianjornet

News from Alaska is sparse and we will update you as soon as we have any news. Kilian and the team are well and will return to Europe in the coming days.

Summits of my Life posted on Facebook:

Great news from Alaska!! Kilian has set a new record on the McKinley!! Huuuuge congrats Kilian!!!! The team is still out there for a few more days so there are no confirmed details. We’ll get you the full story as soon as they are back! Congrats again, Kilian, you are amazing!!

The previous record was set by Edward Warren HERE

Overview:

Ed Warren
Date:  21 May – 01 June 2013
Location: Denali National Park, Alaska
Overview:
On May 31st, 2013 Warren set the speed ascent and round-trip records on Denali. Climbing via the West Buttress, he ascended in 12 hours and 29 minutes and completed the round-trip effort in 16 hours and 46 minutes. In doing so, he beat the previous records which Chad Kellogg set in 2003.
Kilian’s time beats the record by just over 5-hours, however, we do need confirmation of the official time.
Info from ©wikipedia

Mount McKinley, [native name Denali (Koyukon Athabaskan for “The High One”, Dghelaayce’e in Ahtna)] is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,237 feet (6,168 m) above sea level. At some 18,000 feet (5,500 m), the base-to-peak rise is considered the largest of any mountain situated entirely above sea level.[6] Measured by topographic prominence, it is the third most prominentpeak after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Located in the Alaska Range in the interior of US state of Alaska, McKinley is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The first European to document sighting the mountain was George Vancouver in 1794. In 1903, James Wickersham recorded the first attempt at climbing McKinley, which was unsuccessful. In 1906, Frederick Cook claimed the first ascent, which was later proven to be false. The first verifiable ascent to McKinley’s summit was achieved on June 7, 1913 by climbers Hudson StuckHarry KarstensWalter Harper, and Robert Tatum, who went by the South Summit. In 1951, Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, considered to be the safest and easiest route and therefore the most popular currently in use.[7]

Follow Kilian Jornet HERE

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David Johnston Interview – Iditarod Trail Invitation 350 #ITI350 and Susitna 100

dave family

 

“This year’s Iditarod Trail Invitational begins in a couple days and I’m looking forward to watching what David Johnston does this time around. Will his recent 18-hour assault of the Susitna 100 hinder his ITI performance? Not many people would be bold enough to run a 100-miler as hard as they can a week before a 350 mile race in which they are trying to run as fast as possible, but Dave is one of the most bold racers I’ve ever come across. He’s also one of the most upbeat, happy, and likeable people you will ever meet. I’ve talked in the past about how ‘unbreakable’ I feel Steve Reifenstuhl’s foot record is at the ITI, but Dave might just be the one person who is crazy enough to try, and talented/experienced enough to pull it off. A year ago I would have said, no way could Dave ever run the ITI as fast as Steve did, but after his amazing run there last year, and his jaw dropping performance at Susitna last week, he has proven that it is within his grasp if the trail conditions are in his favor. He simply has an ability to drag a sled for long distances on snow really, really, really well. I would love to be out there giving it a go beside him, but that will have to wait for another year (or a few) for me. For now I’ll just have to settle for rooting for Dave from the warmth and comfort of my house here in Colorado. Go get ’em, buddy!”

by Geoff Roes (posted on Facebook, Feb 21st 2014)

Geoff sums it up perfectly. I personally followed the Iditarod Trail Invitational closely last year (2013) as I had arranged with Joe Grant to monitor his progress with a series of step-by-step interviews to record his journey as he prepared for his first attempt at this epic 350-mile race. After the race in a candid catch up, Joe continued to be amazed by what the race leader, David Johnston had achieved, when I mentioned to Joe about my interview with David he said, ‘That’s awesome Ian. Look forward to hearing about it. Dave continues to run phenomenal races on these winter courses. Can’t wait to see what he does at the ITI this year.’

 

I caught up with David just 5-days after he set an incredible new course record at the Susitna-100. Running a time of 18:22, this smashed Geoff Roes 2007 record of 21:43 out of the park.

Believe it or not, today, Sunday 23rd February 2014, David won’t be at home with his feet up recovering, he will be on the start line of the ITI350 to see what he can do… again!

 

 INTERVIEW

IC: In last years punishing 350-mile ITI race, ultra runner David Johnston endured countless problems; sleep deprivation and hallucinations, nausea and diarrhea, sinus problems and a strained right knee. The soles of his feet were numb when he crossed the finish line, and the numbness persisted for more than a week afterward. (From http://www.adn.com)

But David Johnston returns for more!

DJ: Thanks Ian, great to be here.

IC: Last year we followed Joe Grant step-by-step as he prepared for the ITI. It was great to get an insight how he prepared and then catch up afterwards. One thing he said continually was. “This guy David Johnston has had an incredible run, what he has achieved is incredible’. From the outside looking in, the ITI is a small community. Not many know about this race. The 350-mile or the just crazy 1000-mile race; what is it for you that attracts you to this race and severity of course.

DJ: Living in Alaska is the big draw. You know, we Alaskans think of ourselves as locals, we cut our teeth on the shorter races and it gets in your blood and you think what is next? The ITI sits up there as the top shelf whiskey and you long to do it. So it’s great to get the opportunity and when you do, you give it your best.

IC: You completed the 2013 race in 4hrs 13min short of the previous record (considered unbeatable) did you go out for the record or did you just see how it goes?

DJ: When I started the race last year I think my main goal was to see if I could run the whole way. I didn’t know if I could do that. When I started off I was with Joe Grant. We were together for the first 30-miles. He asked, ‘what are you going to do?’ I said you know what, ‘Joe, I am gonna see if I can run the whole way.’ He replied by saying, ‘your nuts, you can’t run the whole way’. But I thought to myself I am gonna try… In the first 150-miles I went through some tough times. At mile 135 I left Fingerlake checkpoint and it was do or die. I probably shouldn’t have left but I was like an animal. I thought I would put my head down and just go for it. I hit mile 200 and I thought, you know what, I am close to the record. I thought lets go for it. I ran as hard as I could… even with 50-miles left I had to run within 10-hours (5-miles per hour). That is pretty much top speed on snow…

IC: That’s crazy! It would be hard enough trying to do that on fresh legs at the beginning but after 4-days? Wow; crazy.

DJ: (laughs) I pulled it off for a while but with 40-miles left I was on pace and then the snow started at it came harder and harder. My effort was reduced to 3-miles per hour and I could see it slipping away. I thought this is all I have got! I definitely had to put up with Mother Nature but that is this race! It was the first time I had ever decided to just go for it… You just don’t know what you will get?

IC: How do you just go for it when it is a 350-mile race in such tough conditions? You have touched on that you live in the environment so you will be far more savvy and aware of what you can and can’t do and of course what will and won’t work. I know that in the process Joe Grant went through, there are certain things that he had to guess. Once at the end, his learning curve was complete. Joe realized what he would do next time and things he wouldn’t do. Do you think that the success for you is that you know what works?

DJ: Yes, it’s a huge part of it. I learn daily. You learn the basics the first time but you never stop learning.

IC: Of course you have just completed Susitna-100 and we will come on to that soon. However it would be rude not to discuss your ITI350 from 2013 but part of the reason I am not talking in depth is because today, Sunday 23rd, you are about to go and do it all again… just 7-days after Susitna. What are the tips that you could provide for anyone competing in something like this?

DJ: Practice and practice. Get out with a sled everyday. Wear the shoes that you are going to wear and prepare the mind. The mentality of it can’t be underestimated. Get out in the cold conditions and get used to what you will have to endure. If you have an indoor track near your home, don’t use it! You need to be out and in the conditions to get ready. It’s just little things. It is interesting, in the snow I run so much better than on dry ground. I think it’s the excitement and the energy of the snow. The whiteness. You know, Christmas is my favourite holiday. Maybe it’s just like Christmas all the time. I can’t repeat my performances on dry land, that is a long term aim for me but something about the snow energizes me.

IC: I opened up our chat mentioning all those things; sleep deprivation and hallucinations, nausea and diarrhea, sinus problems and a strained right knee. How do you mentally focus to get yourself putting one front in front of the other? Is this natural or have you had to work on it?

DJ: You know what, luck plays a big part. Some days it just doesn’t work but I think of cold beer or a great song to help me push through. You know, the benefit of these races is that you just don’t have too many points that you can drop! So, even when you are low you have no choice but to continue. You know, you hit mile 60 and feel like death in a normal race and you can drop because it’s easy, so this is a big plus to racing out here. You are forced to go on.

IC: In terms of food and nutrition, how do you sustain yourself from day-to-day? The interview in adn.com mentions, Smarties and Pop Tarts. Is simple food and simple sugars the way to fuel yourself or do you need a good hot meal at an aid station?

DJ: I’m a big guy with size 12 feet so I need fuel. My biggest problem is my stomach. So that is 75% of the battle with me. If I can figure out how to make my stomach cooperate I will do fine. I am really careful taking in stuff. When my body allows it, I will eat what I can… hot meal or whatever. When my bodies complaining, that is when I kinda just nibble on Smarties or a piece of Pop Tart to try and keep some calories going in. The Susitna-100 last week I ran on probably only 200-calories. With the effort I was putting out I couldn’t take anything. I try to eat well the week and night before any race. It’s a weak link for m. I’d love to work it out one day.

dave susitna

IC: Okay, you mentioned Susitna-100, which happened just last weekend. You raced at Hurt-100 earlier this year, Gary Robbins won once again but you had a tough race and you dropped at 60-miles. Did that play on your mind going into the Susitna race or are the 2-races just so different it wasn’t an issue. I know Hurt was very hot and humid!

DJ: It was a huge disappointment. I went to Hurt in the best shape I have had for years. I was gunning for a top-3 position. I started out at a pace that I thought would do that but I just started to fall apart. The course is brutal. You know, up here in the winter you can’t come close to getting anything like that Hurt course. The other guys were flying over roots and rocks. No way I could run like that… I thought I could go out and tough it out and forge on but by mile 60 I was reduced to a stumbling walk and I thought, I gotta pull the plug. So, lining up at Susitna last week that was on my shoulders. You have 100’s of your friends at the line watching and they are supporting so you want to do your best. It was definitely a determining factor to go hard and not stop.

IC: Can you give us an insight into the course and the race, what is it like?

DJ: Oh man it is a neat race! You line up at a famous Iditarod dog mush kennel. You line up with 75-biker, 40-runners and 20 or so skiers and they say go…! This year it was so icy. It’s unique; it’s a race that I would recommend anyone to try. Particularly if they want to do the ITI or other winter races that require qualification. I’m not kidding you; at least 10-miles was like running on an ice rink. It was glare ice. On the rivers or lakes it was glare ice. This year was all about shoes. At the start I checked shoes and I was thinking, mmm, some of you guys will have an interesting run. Shoe experience is invaluable. I strapped on some new ice bug racing flats and those things grip like Spiderman. They are not a100-mile shoe so I got pretty beat up but when I hit the ice I started running 8-min miles. My sled would start to overtake me…

(Laughter)

IC: Okay, so that is how you broke the record?

DJ: Conditions were excellent. You know I went into this race a 60-mile brutal training run in Hawaii and so the confidence of the training and my preparation was excellent.

IC: Geoff Roes set the record in 2007. His time is over 2-hours slower than what you achieved this year. I guess having listened to what you have just said, I guess the ice wasn’t a bad thing because you knew and were prepared to run well in those conditions. You had the correct shoes but of course a big advantage is that the slid glides instead of you pulling it in soft snow.

DJ: The sled weighed about 24lbs with everything in it. As you say, it got great glide. The thing with a course record, every few years the course changes a little. Maybe 50% of the course was different? The distance is always spot on, always 100-miles but the courses are not the same. Also, when Geoff ran in 2007 he wasn’t in his prime. I think he would definitely have beaten his previous time with his form of a few years ago.

IC: You ran 18:22 and Geoff ran 21:43. A big difference! When you run a race like this and when conditions are good do you think about CR’s or is it a case of I will see how it goes?

dave training

DJ: I didn’t think about a CR. The courses are too unpredictable. I am hoping they keep this new course for a while but it will take a real effort to be at the time I have set, 18:22 will be super tough. I would almost say it is going to be impossible. My goal before the race was to break 20-hours. Only a few people knew this before the race and they shook their heads thinking it was crazy! I started out at a pace faster than 20-hours. Conditions for skiers were terrible. One of the top skiers was with me for a long time, at mile 35 he skies up behind me and says, ‘don’t you think you went out a little too fast this year?’ I agreed with him but thought, you can’t go back now so I put my head down and pushed on.

IC: Did you have any bad points?

DJ: Mile 45 or so I guess. I hit that point and my stomach was saying I don’t like you anymore. I was getting low on energy. I had a 10-mile stretch when I was struggling. I was thinking to myself that maybe I had gone out too fast. I had no choice. I wasn’t going to let myself down again so I stared at the snow and pushed as hard as I could. At mile 55 I cam out the other side; I think my body was using fat as fuel, I could tell the difference. At mile 60 you hit a resort that is road accessible and my 2-kids and wife met me. That picked me up. I actually hung out for 20-minutes with them. It was a great burst of energy. I realized the last 40-miles just needed to be done!

IC: So at 60-miles you hung out for 20-minutes. So, at this pint you weren’t covering ground… maybe the CR could be 20-min quicker? (Both laugh)

DJ: Normally I would have taken a 5 to10-min break but they had driven out to see me. We sat at the table while they ate… I couldn’t eat but I sat talking and shivering (laughs). The temperature was sort of cold but not cold if you know what I mean. I chattered my teeth and decided it was time to push on. My wife was begging me to slow down, ‘I don’t want to find you lying on the trail.’ My son told me I was nuts! It was great to see them, I just didn’t think about the time. Also the course was so hard. I took a beating out on the trail so the rest may have well been good. For the final 10-miles I was running 9-min mile pace which was great.

IC: Considering Susitna was last weekend and today, you embark on the ITI350, was this a long-term plan or have you just seized an opportunity?

DJ: This was always a long-term plan. It started 12-months ago after the 2013 ITI350. I knew I would do both races. In regard to how hard I would run Susitna I didn’t know that until a week before the race. I was doing one of my daily 10-mile runs with a sled and I was flying. I knew conditions were going to be opportune so I had to take advantage. When the gun went at Susitna I embraced the conditions and went hard. I hope the damage is done… a week is not long recovery especially when going into a 350-mile race. I went out a couple of days ago for a 5-mile run with the sled and I didn’t move too fast (laughs). I guess we will find out how the ITI350 goes. Many are shaking heads thinking I am crazy but hey, I have to give it a go.

IC: I guess you can start, see how it goes and you will know relatively quickly if it is a good idea or really a bad idea. I suppose the only thing that may happen, it may take a day before you feel good?

DJ: Yeah. We are starting to get some fresh snow; I was hoping for the super fast conditions but we have had fresh snow; which will slow things down. It is amazing what a few inches of snow can do. Just 3-inches can slow you down by 1-mile per hour. But I am going to go for it!

IC: You did 4-days 19-hours 14-mins last year and you were 37-hours ahead of 2nd. What’s the competition like this year.

DJ: I have some great competition. It’s hard to distinguish because you have runners doing both 350 and 1000-mile races. But everyone does the 350! So the harden 1000-mile races push hard for 350-miles and then rest for a day before pushing on for the 1000-mile journey. Tim Hewitt is one of the world’s best winter endurance athletes. John Logar raced with Joe Grant last year and I would say that Parker Rios will perform; he won Arrowhead in 2013.

IC: Well, I am really looking forward to following the action as the race unfolds. It has been really great to speak to you before the ITI350 and post Susitna. I am really looking forward to catching up with you after this year’s race so that we can have a blow-by-blow account of the 2014 ITI350 was like.

DJ: Thank you so much… I hope it’s a good blow-by-blow!

 

Notes and links:

All images ©davidjohnston

The Iditarod Trail Invitational

iditarod-route

The Race

The Iditarod Trail Invitational is the world’s longest human powered winter ultra. Beginning in Knik, Alaska it follows the Iditarod Trail to McGrath covering 350 miles. Ironically this is called the ‘short race’. They also have a ‘long race’ covering 1100 miles finishing at Nome, Alaska. Support is minimal. Two snow machines ride ahead of the leaders providing a broken trail to McGrath. Food drops are provided at 130 miles, 210 miles and in even numbered years a feed is provided at ‘Cripple‘ and odd numbered years at ‘Iditarod‘.

That’s it!

Between checkpoints, racers are solo or may work with each other. If they continue to ‘Nome’ for the 1100 mile journey once past McGrath it os solo all the way apart from a food drop at ‘Ruby‘. After that they can use village stores, mail packages ahead or possibly use a school for a warm nights rest. Hard core!

Somehow this quote seems a little understated: Tim Hewitt, six time finisher of the 1100 mile race said:

“It’s the toughest race in the world.”

History

The Iditarod Trail Invitational follows the historic Iditarod Trail. The famous sled dog route runs 1000 miles through frozen Alaska every March since 1973 in memory of those brave individuals who brought the important serum to Nome in 1925 during a diphterie outbreak. Using bicycles as a means of transportation on Alaska’s frozen rivers and tundra might seem a little odd and a crazy idea, but men looking for gold around 1900 that couldn’t afford a dog team actually used what they then called a “wheel” and followed the gold rush from Dawson City to Nome on the Yukon River on bicycles.

How do you get in?

This is the most remote and longest winter ultra race in the world.
Competitors in the human powered event go through an interview process with race organizers Bill & Kathi Merchant.

If they have the skills and knowledge to be self sufficient in cold weather, such as high altitude mountaineering experience or previous arctic expeditions they can enter the race.
Prior finishes in races such as the following are qualifying events.

 

 

 

Joe Grant and the Iditarod Trail Invitational

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6 Days 8 hours and 47 minutes – he did it!

TO tackle an epic 350-mile race across the lonely frozen wilderness of Alaska requires an athlete to be extreme and committed.

Inov-8 / Arc’teryx athlete Joe Grant proved he has both qualities in hardcore measures, overcoming exhaustion and pain to finish the Iditarod Trail Invitational in joint-second place.

Joe has been interviewed twice on Talk Ultra in the build up to the ITI and you can listen to those episodes:

We will have a post ITI interview with Joe Grant on Episode 31 or 32 of Talk Ultra

Described by organisers as the world’s longest human powered winter ultra-marathon, Joe raced on foot across frozen rivers and swamplands, through forests and over mountains to complete the course in 6 days, 8 hours and 47 minutes.

He did so pulling a sled weighing 35lb/15kg and taking in just 13 hours of sleep throughout.

The 29-year-old, who is part of a new global inov-8 team of athletes set to push boundaries and stretch limits in 2013, said:

“It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“It was relentless, every day it felt like I’d done 100 miles.

“I slept for just 13 hours in six days and none of that was what you would call really good sleep.”

Born in Oxford in the UK, raised in France and Spain, and now based in Colorado, US. Joe took part in the 2013 Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) race that saw 19 competitors on foot and 29 others on bikes complete the 350-mile route between Knik and McGrath.

There were just seven checkpoints on the course where food and lodging was available. Between checkpoints racers had only each other.

Joe said:

“Form the start it was hard.

“We left Knik at 2pm on the opening 57 miles to the first checkpoint at Yentna Station. I hoped to arrive there in the middle of the night at the latest. I eventually got there at 6.35am. I was wrecked, it felt like I’d done double the distance.

“The soft snow had made it tough going, and it was a relief to get inside and eat. I slept for about an hour and a half and left feeling surprisingly great.

“The next 30 miles to Skwenta Roadhouse took another nine hours. I’d planned to sleep for four hours at this point. I ended up sleeping for six hours. It didn’t, however, have the required effect and I left, at midnight, feeling banged up.

“That night on the course was a rough one for me. It was actually quite warm by Alaskan standards, above freezing level, and the snow was like mashed potato.

“Then, between the checkpoints at 130 mile (Winterlake) and 165 miles (Puntilla), and with the surroundings becoming more remote, I hit the wall. I had no choice but to bivvy down in the snow. I couldn’t sleep though, I felt like I was losing my mind. After getting into my bag fully I lay there and shivered for two hours.

“I eventually got into Puntilla at 7.30am. I was so miserable. Then the best thing all race happened – fellow competitor John Logar walked in. We hit the trail again, this time together, and to have that companionship was great.

“We charged up the big climb that followed then dropped down to the next checkpoint at Rohn (at 210 miles).

“Despite having John there with me, I arrived at Rohn destroyed, probably the most destroyed I’ve ever felt. Knowing there was still 140 miles to do to the finish, it seemed impossible. I thought about giving up, but after some soup and rest we set off on the next 90-mile section.

“Arriving at the last checkpoint at Nikolai knowing there was only 50 miles to go, I thought I’d feel improved, but instead my body rebelled in the heat of the hut and I started to feel feverish, so we didn’t stay long.

“Between Nikolai and the finish in McGrath, the temperature fell to -25C. Myself and John crashed and burned several times, lying down on our packs and falling asleep. We’d then get back up and go again.

“With 345 miles done and just five left to go, unbelievably we took a wrong turn that cost us a couple of miles. I think out of sheer frustration more than anything else, we turned around and ran the final seven miles to McGrath!

“With the sweat freezing to our bodies, we rolled across the finish line. I had given every last ounce of anything that was in my body to the race.”

With the 350-mile epic now in his locker, Joe will turn his attention to drier trails and plans to go head-on with the world’s best mountain runners at the opening race in the 2013 Skyrunner ultra series.

May’s 83km Transvulcania La Palma ultra-marathon monster on the island of La Palma in the Atlantic Ocean, which features 4,415m of elevation gain, was last year won by Dakota Jones, with Joe in joint 11th.

Joe went on to record an outstanding second place finish at the 2012 Hardrock 100-mile race in the US – an achievement he wants to better this year.

Note:

Joe wore inov-8’s roclite™ 286 GTX boot for the ITI

Clothing supplied by Arc’teryx

Iditarod Trail Invitational website and 2013 results: http://www.alaskaultrasport.com/alaska_ultra_home_page.html

 

Iditarod Trail Invitational

Iditarod

This race is not for everyone. A mistake at the wrong time and place in the Alaskan winter wilderness could cost you fingers and toes or even your life. At times the only possible rescue will be self rescue. For those who do not agree with this philosophy, expect marked trails and more support there are other races out there which will cater to your needs.

Iditarod map

Most races try to entice you to enter by telling you what a great experience you will have. How pleasurable it will be. Not the Iditarod Trail Invitational.

Image of Geoff Roes copyright Geoff Roes

Image of Geoff Roes copyright Geoff Roes

As Geoff Roes proved. This is one seriously tough tough race. In 2012 he was the first man home covering 350 miles in 6 days 23 hours 25 min. Mmmm makes Western States look like a piece of cake eh!

In 2012 only 18 people finished the 350 mile race. The first man home was Peter Basinger in 6 dyas 15 hours BUT that was on a bike! An impressive 6th victory for Peter. Overall 2nd and 3rd was taken by bike riders and then Geoff Roes, 4th overall and 1st runner. Incredible.

In 2013, Arc’teryx athlete Joe Grant will be taking part. I plan to catch up with him before and after this incredibly challenging race and the interviews will be on Talk Ultra.

Joe Grant - Arc'teryx

The Race

The Iditarod Trail Invitational is the world’s longest human powered winter ultra. Beginning in Knik, Alaska it follows the Iditarod Trail to McGrath covering 350 miles. Ironically this is called the ‘short race’. They also have a ‘long race’ covering 1100 miles finishing at Nome, Alaska. Support is minimal. Two snow machines ride ahead of the leaders providing a broken trail to McGrath. Food drops are provided at 130 miles, 210 miles and in even numbered years a feed is provided at ‘Cripple‘ and odd numbered years at ‘Iditarod‘.

That’s it!

Between checkpoints, racers are solo or may work with each other. If they continue to ‘Nome’ for the 1100 mile journey once past McGrath it os solo all the way apart from a food drop at ‘Ruby‘. After that they can use village stores, mail packages ahead or possibly use a school for a warm nights rest. Hard core!

Somehow this quote seems a little understated: Tim Hewitt, six time finisher of the 1100 mile race said:

“It’s the toughest race in the world.”

History

The Iditarod Trail Invitational follows the historic Iditarod Trail. The famous sled dog route runs 1000 miles through frozen Alaska every March since 1973 in memory of those brave individuals who brought the important serum to Nome in 1925 during a diphterie outbreak. Using bicycles as a means of transportation on Alaska’s frozen rivers and tundra might seem a little odd and a crazy idea, but men looking for gold around 1900 that couldn’t afford a dog team actually used what they then called a “wheel” and followed the gold rush from Dawson City to Nome on the Yukon River on bicycles.

How do you get in?

This is the most remote and longest winter ultra race in the world.
Competitors in the human powered event go through an interview process with race organizers Bill & Kathi Merchant.

If they have the skills and knowledge to be self sufficient in cold weather, such as high altitude mountaineering experience or previous arctic expeditions they can enter the race.
Prior finishes in races such as the following are qualifying events.

iditarod route

The 2013 race roster is available to view HERE

Official Race Website HERE

Joe Grant has a great blog called Alpine Works. Follow this HERE

Additional reading – 2012 winner of the 350 mile race, Geoff Roes wrote a detailed report for iRunFar available HERE