Preparing For Another Run at Susitna

I’ve been spending the past several months training for my second running of the Susitna 100, coming up in two weeks from today. We’ve had another interesting winter here in Alaska, with not a lot of snow, and it hasn’t gotten particularly cold until just recently. The extended forecast doesn’t go out all the way to race day yet, but it’s currently showing temps in the mid 30s at the start of race week. We could end up with even higher temps than last year!

I feel much more confident going into the race this year, now having done it once before. With a long race like this in the winter, there are just so many different variables and things that can go wrong. I’ve already got my sled situation figured out, and I won’t have a camera crew following me this year, all I have to do is run 100 miles in the middle of the Alaskan winter – easy peasy!

I’ve had the good fortune lately to be able to do most of my long runs with a group, which has certainly helped. Two weekends ago, I ran a 30 miler pulling my sled in single digit temperatures, and was very thankful to have friends out there with me.

There have been many early mornings in the past weeks and months, preparing my body and mind for the many long miles that await me at Susitna.

I’m looking forward not only to the challenge of the race, but also to being “out there” for many hours with friends old and new. I’ve said it before, but especially up here with a relatively small ultra community, these races are a lot like a family reunion. I can’t wait to see everyone and spend some (or a lot of) time on the trail with them.

Throwing My Hat Into the Western States Lottery

After completing Zion 100 back in April, I’m qualified to enter in the Western States Lottery this year. Since I DNF’d Pine to Palm last year, I wasn’t able to enter the lottery, and so I’m back to 1 ticket this year. They haven’t published the stats for this year’s lottery yet, but based on last year, 1 tickets gives me about a 2.5% chance of getting into the race.

I realize it’s a long shot and I’m certainly not holding my breath, but a guy’s gotta try, right?

Update: they’ve released this year’s race statistics, and with 1 ticket it looks like I’ve got a 2.3% chance of getting drawn. Here’s hoping!

Update #2: as expected, I didn’t get in 😭

Susitna 100 Race Report

After much preparation and stressing over gear choices and my sled, the Susitna 100 finally arrived. As if running 100 miles in the middle of the Alaskan winter wasn’t going to be hard enough on its’ own, it turned out that I was also going to have a CNN film crew following me!

What packing for a winter 100 miler looks like.

Let me take a few steps back and explain that last part. Around the end of January, the race directors were contacted by CNN. They wanted to do a story on the race for their Fit Nation series, and were looking for suggestions for someone “interesting” to profile and follow during the race. They gave them several names, and after a preliminary interview, I found out that they had picked me! They flew up to Alaska from New York the week of the race, and I spent several hours with them over a couple of days recording interviews, getting shots of family time at my house, and doing some “Hollywood running” around my neighborhood and on nearby trails. They planned to follow me as much as possible during the race (only 2 of the 6 checkpoints are accessible by road), and they also gave me a small video camera similar to a GoPro to take some of my own footage during the race.

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Adding a Cover to My Sled for Susitna 100

These past couple of weeks, we’ve had several good dumps of snow in the Anchorage area. This has meant lots of long runs dragging my sled through deep snow. Aside from this being really hard work, I also quickly learned that I needed a cover for my sled before race day. My sled was taking on tons of snow, adding unnecessary weight and soaking my non-waterproof duffel bag. Something needed to be done – so I headed to Jo-Anns for some DIY supplies. I picked up some rip-stop nylon and a heavy-duty zipper.

The rip-stop nylon serves several purposes:

  1. As the name implies, it’s resistant to ripping or tearing, something I certainly don’t want happening during the race.
  2. It’s reasonably water resistant.
  3. It’s a slick material that actively sheds snow.

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