Joe Grant joins Inov-8

Joe Grant

February 21, 2013

HARDCORE new inov-8 athlete Joe Grant is preparing to tackle the extremes of Alaska in a 350-mile race described by organisers as the world’s longest human powered winter ultra-marathon.

An interview with Joe is available on Episode 27 of Talk Ultra and just THIS WEEK, Ian from Talk Ultra caught up with Joe before he headed out to the race. You can listen to that audio in Episode 29 of Talk Ultra released on February 22nd.

The 29-year-old, who will form part of a new global inov-8 team of athletes set to push boundaries and stretch limits in 2013, begins the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Knik, Alaska, on Sunday.

Born in the UK, raised in France and now based in Colorado, US, Joe will wear inov-8’s roclite™ 286 GTX boot to tame the snow and ice in a race that can take runners anything between four-and-a-half and ten days, depending on conditions in the Alaskan wilderness.

There are just seven checkpoints on the course where food and lodging is available. Between checkpoints racers have only each other.

Joe said: “It will be the longest ultra I’ve done in terms of distance and the extreme cold will make it tough but it’s a super exciting challenge. I just hope I can keep all my toes until the end!

“When racing over 350 miles in such wilderness and conditions it’s crucial to have trust in your footwear.

Roclite243_2-13[1] roclite286gtx_02-01

“The roclite™ 268 GTX is light and close to the ground, which is good on uneven snow. It runs like a low top trail shoe, but has all the advantages of a high top for these kinds of conditions.

“The GORE-TEX membrane helps keep my feet dry and warm, while the height of the boot in combination with gaiters prevents snow from getting in.”

Following that, Joe hopes 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 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 epic 2012 Hardrock 100-mile race in the US – an achievement he wants to better this year.

“I want to be on the start line for Transvulcania but it will depend on how my recovery goes after the Iditarod Trail Invitational,” said Joe, who has finished top-20 at the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB).

“The Hardrock 100 is a big one for me this year. It’s an awesome race, which embodies everything I like about racing in the mountains. I really want to do a fast time there in July.”

Joe will wear shoes from inov-8’s trailroc™ and roclite™ ranges to race over trails and mountains across the world in 2013.

He said: “I’m super excited about the roclite™ 243 (new for spring/summer 2013). Its specifications are spot-on and I couldn’t think of a better shoe for trail and mountain running.”

More details on Iditarod Trail Invitational visit 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