As challenges go, the Iditarod Trail Invitational has to rank right up there with cycling around the world and the Race Across America, touted as it is as being the world’s longest human powered winter ultra-marathon.
The race begins in Knik, Alaska and follows the Iditarod Trail to McGrath for the finish of the 350 mile short option. Racers competing in the 1100 mile version will continue up the trail to Nome. To take part in the latter distance you have to have completed the shorter 350 mile race first.
The event was based on the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, and keeps the going simple with very few rules and restrictions, and there’s a minimum of support allowed for competitors. There is no designated or marked route only mandatory checkpoints racers must pass through
The rules do extend to GPS tracking devices liek SPOT being banned, and each rider must carry all survival gear needed for toughing out the harsh conditions. And harsh they most certainly are.
There are no support crews allowed and no outside assistance is permissible, and racers are reminded to “be self sufficient for several days” as “there are very long stretches of uninhabited trail on the way”. The only support provided to the racers is two snowmachines in front of the leaders as far as McGrath insuring a broken trail once and seven checkpoints where food and lodging are available. You can take a look at the map of the route here.
There’s 50 racers taking part this year (the event organiser’s limit to just 50) and among the many riders are several Brits. Steve Wilkinson, Aidan Harding, Roger Leavesley, Bill Dent will each be doing the 350 challenge while John Ross will take on the full 1100 challenge. See all the riders taking part here.