The Susitna 100 is a 100 mile race through the frozen Alaskan wilderness. Competitors can choose their own mode of travel: ski, bike, or run/snowshoe. When I first heard about this race, shortly after moving to Alaska, I knew that I had to do it. I just love crazy adventures like this.
Last year, I did the shorter version of the Su 100, called the Little Su 50K. I treated that race as a test to see if I could handle the kind of conditions I would encounter if I did the 100 miler. The race course is on remote snowmobile trails, which can be very narrow and bumpy. What I discovered last year was that, yes the course was narrow, bumpy, and challenging, but it also was not any worse than the snowmobile trails I used to train on when I was in high school back in New Hampshire.
After his commanding win in last year’s Su 100, Tim Kelley said to me that he could have gone a lot faster with someone there to push him (hint, hint).
I took the challenge and decided that I was ready to give the Su 100 a try in 2005.
I did my normal ski training plan until about Christmas time. Then I planned to supplement my usual training with 40-60 mile skis on the weekends. But because of sickness and work, I only ended up doing four extra-long ski workouts, with the longest being 5 hours and 45 miles. I was a bit worried about my lack of preparation, but as one friend who is a Su 100 veteran told me, â€œIts not the last month of training that is going to get you through this race, it’s the years of building a massive endurance base.â€
I sure hoped so.
Also very important in this race is the gear that you take. The list of required gear is: a Minus-20 sleeping bag; Insulated sleeping pad; Bivy sack or tent; matches or lighter; Stove; 8 oz. fuel, cooking Pot; 2-qt insulated water container; Headlamp or flashlight; 1-day of food at ALL times (3000 calories); 15 lbs of gear (not including food and water) at ALL times.
All geared up and heading to the start line. Damn, now my gear all clashes with my red suit and jacket.
Here I am refueling at the EagleSong lodge checkpoint, which is about halfway. Photo by Linda Grover
By the halfway point, I was feeling better. The narrow, winding trails were fun to ski, and I was beginning to notice that I didn't feel any worse than I had at mile 30 (but I certainly didn't feel any better either). Maybe I can make it…
Tim Kelley finishing.
Tim finished a short while later. Skiers ended up taking the top 5 spots. The soft course gave us a huge advantage, but I am really impressed by all the bikers and runners who still finished in these conditions. About half of the field dropped out, which is a lot more than usual.
ADN article on the Su 100: http://adn.com/sports/story/6203255p-6077553c.html
ADN Interview With Tim Kelley (not about the race): http://www.adn.com/outdoors/story/6193505p-6067600c.html
My photo gallery pf the race: http://www.xcskiracer.com/gallery/Su100
More photos from the race: