AlaskaMan – Extreme Triathlon
It has been a few weeks since an entry, but the time has been well spent. I had the opportunity to take a trip to Alaska to cover the inaugural Alaskaman as part of the X-Tri series. The Alaska wilderness and landscape is simply awe inspiring, it is a huge contrast to our Houston commute consists of.
The basics of this event, 2.7 mile swim, 113 mile bike, and 27 mile run, you would think this is just another Ironman, well this isn’t your typical distances! The day before race start, athletes and their support attended a meeting to discuss any updates and to go over the guidelines of the race. Race director Aaron Palaian managed to answer any concerns about the event and course. With support from Stuart McInnes from X-Tri, he was there to support and reinforce their support of AlaskaMan.
With the conclusion of the meeting, everyone walked back to Seward and enjoyed a good meal before being rested for an early start to setup their bikes and gear at T1 at 2am. We were up at 2am to get some moments before boarding the bus at 3:30am for the start at Miller’s Landing at 4:30am.
At the swim start the water temperature was approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the athletes swam through a glacial waterfall wash which dropped the water temperature close to 50 degrees. Shivering would be an understatement for how their bodies were reacting to the swim. The men and women powered through the change in temperature and were created with cheers along the shoreline and with helping hands at the swim exit. The crowd of supporters were 3-5 deep along the swim exit, waiting for their athlete to exit and get them whatever they needed to get warm and ready for the transition to the bike.
The weather was overcast with a light drizzle all morning in Seward, the roads and shoulders were prepared for this event by the Alaska Transportation department with a last minute sweep of the shoulders. The views were scenic, the climbs were long and gradual, yet these athletes took it in stride as they were getting their body warmed up after the swim.
Upon finishing the bike, the athletes exit T2 about 10 miles past Alyeska Highway and start their run to Mount Alyeksa. Elevation gain for the run is approximately 4000 feet with just over 2000 ft in the last 7 miles. The finish is at the top of Mount Alyeska, the views the athletes were greeted with were spectacular, they traversed ice fields, climbs with 20+% grade.
Congratulations to all athletes and support personnel. This extreme triathlon was exactly that, extreme. The athletes determination to meet the time cut-offs were unquestionable, I can only imagine how these athletes felt finding out they missed the cut-offs after reaching the checkpoints. I’m sure this will not deter them from any future X-Tri event!
2018 cannot come soon enough!