Saturday, February 29, 2020

Following the 2020 Iditarod Trail Invitational

Well, it's nearly here — the Sunday, March 1 start of the 2020 Iditarod Trail Invitational. This will be the sixth time I've stood at this starting line with an intention to race, my second with a hopeful ambition to reach Nome, and my first with the completely idiotic idea to walk the entire distance. This post includes several links to follow the race while I am gone. With any luck I will be out there for the entire month of March — I believe a best-case scenario is to finish in Nome in the 30-day range. Hopefully I won't post here again sooner than that, because that will mean I've stopped early.

Right now we're facing a rather dire weather forecast right out of the gate, with heavy snowfall — as much as two feet in some forecasts — slamming the Susitna River Valley tonight and Sunday. By midweek the forecasts predict clearing accompanied by a return to chilly temperatures — possibly 20s and 30s below on this side of the Alaska Range, perhaps some -40s in the Interior. It's just ... oooof. All of the fears are being packed for this one. I thrive on my natural inclination toward pessimism, so I'm bracing for the worst but hoping for a little better. I do feel like I can be mentally and hopefully physically prepared for such difficulties. As I told Beat, "Day one and two will be just like the Fat Pursuit, and then it will be our Christmas trips in Fairbanks." For the record, I was very slow during both of these outings, and they were both unbelievably taxing in terms of energy spent per mile. But I understand how to manage them for a few miles at least.

Anyway, there will be tracking again this year, if you want to follow some really, really slow dots:

2020 Iditarod Trail Invitational on Trackleaders
My personal tracking page on Trackleaders

I probably won't make much of an effort to update social media while I am out there. However, there's a chance I will feel lonely and in need of vicarious virtual human connection and send tweets from my InReach, similar to my string-of-consciousness feed in 2018. If you have any interest in seeing these posts, please either follow me on Twitter or my "Up in Alaska" page on Facebook. Per Facebook's policies, the InReach posts will only appear there and not on my personal profile:

@AlaskaJill on Twitter
Up in Alaska on Facebook

Finally, I've written many words about adventures on the Iditarod Trail. If you'd like a more in-depth narrative to accompany the dots, or to support me in my work while I'm away, please consider buying one or more of my books. Here are links to three about my experiences in the ITI specifically:

My 2018 walk to McGrath:
Meanwhile the world goes on

My 2016 ride to Nome:
Into the North Wind: A thousand-mile bicycle adventure across frozen Alaska

My first time on the trail, the 2008 ride to McGrath:
Ghost Trails: Journeys Through a Lifetime

Thanks again for all of your support over the years. I can't believe it's been 12 years since I first set out from Knik Lake. I hope I'll return with as many intense memories and renewed perspectives as I did then. 


  1. I can't believe it is 12 years either Jill. Best wishes for an amazing, safe and successful walk. What a pain that the weather has to be cantankerous from day 1.

  2. Best wishes on the trip! I hope you find all you are seeking our there.

  3. Hi Jill, i am a random person from Australia who loves to follow your adventures. Best of luck!

  4. Good luck, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

  5. Best of luck and stay safe. I hope you have plenty of jelly candies to keep you alert. I remember in 2018 you really regretted taking too many sunflower seeds and trail mix, and not enough sugary snacks.

  6. How does one eat an Iditarod Elephant? One step at a time.
    Hope you have a good supply of hand/foot warmer packets...and a couple hundred podcasts cued up. Go Go Go...
    Box Canyon

  7. Best of luck to you both, with the weather and trail conditions. Will make checking your "dots" part of my morning coffee and imagine your adventures!!

    Jeff C

  8. Safe journey Jill. Thinking of you from Arizona...a wonderful place to defrost. Liz M.

  9. Best of luck to both you and Beat! Will be following your adventure...

  10. Hugs and look for the dipper

  11. Hoping you can get through the rough starting weather patterns. A warmup is expected by this coming weekend! Either way, you are brave and we are all rooting you on!


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