NOTE: Earlier today (2PM Sunday, Alaska time) the 2013 Iditarod Trail Invitational began. Jay Petervary sent us these words a couple days before the start. He's on trail now on his Beargrease so send him some good vibes. -Kid
I got very excited a few weeks ago when the stars aligned and the opportunity to do the Iditarod Trail Invitational came up. There was no hesitation to accept. When I think about this journey there are so many past experiences, pictures, and thoughts that come to mind. Most of which are things I really look forward to. Some are easy to express and others are very powerful feelings of being in the moment that can only be felt while on the trail.
The vast landscape is all very overpowering and beautiful. Having the chance to be on a trail that is really only able to be traveled for a few weeks out of the year is special. Going from a frozen river to a tree thick forest, to crossing the Alaskan Range, through one of the biggest forest fire sites ever, and then on to a usually very cold interior is amazing. Knowing that it is going to be very different every time due to weather is also the draw to do it over and over.
There are a variety of people that are actually on the trail and involved in this whole journey. Some live on the trail in cabins, others are just affiliated with the event, and the most heart-warming are the natives in their villages. At this point I consider the people that I know when coming to the Iditarod to be my "trail family". Being welcomed into the different cabins and lodges is something to appreciate. Hearing their stories, as well as them expressing interest in who I am, shows friendship. The fellow competitors, some good friends, are also folks I enjoy seeing this time of year...before and after anyway.
Besides the tangible things there is the actual racing and the feelings and thoughts that go into it. I actually look forward to challenging myself physically and mentally...even if it does include some very hard times of suffering, a word I hesitate to say as it sounds so negative. I look forward and challenge myself to the question: how far can I push myself? This comes down to sleep deprivation and physical output, as well as my favorite: the mental challenge.
There is SO much to look forward to but one of the biggest things are the "man-cakes" in McGrath...basically a pancake on steroids that one just can't get enough of after such a trek.
What does this all boil down to this time around? I am greatly looking forward to the experience this adventure by bike will present me once again.
This quote from the race director sums up my feelings quite well: "We go into the Alaskan backcountry to look for cracks in ourselves. We go back a year later to see if we have done anything about them."