My strategy for the race is to keep a steady pace but stay mostly within my comfort zone while moving, and try to limit stopped time to improve overall speed. Beat, for his own experimental purposes, is traveling fully self-supported for the first 350 miles — meaning he is hauling all of his food for that section and not planning on stopping inside of any cabins. My goal is to shadow Beat as best I can and possibly spend nights out with him, camping on the trail. I want to do this for both the wilderness experience, and as a race strategy. Cabin checkpoints are often loud, hot and crowded, and I rarely sleep well if at all inside of them. However, a simple shelter, someplace warm and surrounded by other humans, is such a huge comfort that I'm not sure I can resist the gravitational pull, even if I know for a fact I'll sleep better curled up in my bivy sack outdoors. We'll see. I'm announcing my intentions on my blog in hopes that some public accountability will hold me to it. I'd like to move in an out of checkpoints relatively quickly and grab most of my sleeps on the trail.
"There are no such things as omens," he replied. Maybe not, but there is optimism, and that can go a long way by itself.
If you'd like to follow up with how the race is going, here are a few links. As a walker near the back of the pack, there won't be much about my progress, but the leaderboard should be updated once a day with the location of the last check-in. My best-case scenario is to finish sometime in the afternoon of Sunday, March 2. A more likely scenario is Monday or Tuesday, and the race officially ends on Wednesday, March 5.
Iditarod Trail Invitational
Rugged and crazed cyclists, runners ready for Iditarod Trail Invitational
Running Wild Alaska (TrailRunner interviewed Beat for this article)
Fairbanks fat bikers pumped for ITI
Ultrarunner Johnston readies for Iditarod Invitational