I took down the blog over the summer as I was away working and hadn’t posted anything in months so decided to remove it for the time being.
I went back on a diving contract in Saudi Arabia to replenish the bank account. I had taken 18 months off since my last dive. In that time I climbed Ama Dablam 6812m in Nepal and made an attempt to climb Annapurna 8091m in winter. I raced the Yukon Arctic Ultra 300 Miles and 3 weeks later I crossed frozen lake baikal in Siberia alone over 17 days and 700km. I then spent a lot of my hard earned diving money on a carbon fiber ocean Rowing boat and Rowed the Atlantic solo. After that I decided I wanted to row back across the North Atlantic from NYC to Ireland. But I discovered 2 days before my flight to New York I had a stress fracture in my back so I cancelled the expedition. So it was a good 18 months off!
I spent the best part of 2 months recovering from the back injury and also recovering from the initial row which took more out of me than I cared to admit. I was making the rounds as a public speaker, visiting schools and business telling people my stories. I wasn’t sure if this was the full time path for me so I decided to go back and doing some of my trade as commercial saturation diver.
I picked up a contract in the Middle East with a company I had worked for in the past. I ended up spending 10 weeks mid summer in Saudi Arabia. Half of this time was spent inside a small chamber and on the sea floor doing heavy construction.
Halfway through the trip my back started to feel a bit iffy, a similar pain to what it felt like not long after the row 4 months previous. Had I broken it again? Diving is a tough job on the body make no mistake about it, one of the reasons is you can be up to your waist in mud and trying to maneuver large bolts and studs into pipe flanges, proper manual handling techniques go out the window, it turns into a wrestling match of sorts. My head did a number on me and I spent the 2nd half of the trip worrying which of course compounded everything.
After I got home I went straight to see Emmett at Galway Bay Physio and he felt it was just the ligament that was a bit aggravated, the specialist confirmed this a few days later. Having not really done any training in months I was looking forward to cycling, running, swimming and generally moving around on terra firma a world away from a small chamber and the dank sea bottom in the Persian Gulf. September was all about getting moving again. My body hurt after my first slow run. I had 5 months to Iditasport in Alaska.
This race is the pinnacle of Ultra Endurance Winter racing and perhaps one of the gnarliest things out there. When I first took part in Likeys 6633 Arctic Ultra In 2015 I always knew I wanted to get to Alaska. The Iditasport is actually the lesser known race, the big one is the Iditarod Trail Invitational, which has been on the go for over 10 years. The Iditasport race used to be around in the 90’s and after it went defunct The ITI came along.
Last year the Iditasport organization came back thanks to Billy Kotsich and it staged a 1,000 Mile edition again as a 20 year anniversary.
My friend Jan Kriska raced it, I followed him closely during it. It was in Feb/Mar of this year when I just back from the row. I was envious and knew then I had to try do this race. When I had news on my back and pulled out of the row back across the Atlantic my head switched instantly to Iditasport and to enter it this year.
Jan had a really tough time on the trail last year. He made it 600 miles along the trail which is a huge feat as the winter up there was particularly harsh, in a year when noboady from either race finished the 1,000 mile edition. The Iditasport and ITI really ride on the back of he Iditarod Dog Sled race. That’s the big event there every year and has been for a very long time.
The Iditarod Trail is a historic trail the crosses Alaska from just out Anchorage to Nome on the Bering Sea, spanning 1,000 miles or 1,700km it is truly a mammoth challenge for a man and dogs, but for a man alone with a sled it is mind boggling.
There are very little roads in Alaska yet there are many towns, during the winter the trail joins these towns via the frozen tundra, lakes and rivers. The Iditarod dog sled race helps bring something to each of these villages that otherwise wouldn’t see much else being located in the middle of nowhere. Each year the race changes the route slightly in the middle section on odd years it takes a more southerly route and on even years it takes a more northern route.
2018 is the Northern Route and i'm already busy studying maps and gps tracks to figure out the towns, villages and stops along the way. The race is supported with checkpoints upto the 600 mile mark and beyond that you're on your own. So I have to organise my own food drops via the post offices in the villages along the way. US Post has an awesome set up where you can mail yourself a package and pick it up from said post office much like parcel motel, they will hold it for 30 days and send it back to where it came from if you don't pick it up. So i've plans to head over a couple of weeks before the race starts to mail packages. The only problem being the opening hours of the post offices, no use arriving into a village at 7pm knowing the post office won't be open for another 14 hours! So i will have to overstock each mail package and bring extra supplies between villages incase i need to by pass a post office location.
Everytime i revisit my website i'm scared by the countdown timer on the main page, today it reads 67 days and i feel no way ready. I picked up an quad injury when i was in USA last month and it's not fully healed. To say it's been a frustrating year for injury is an understatement. But it teaches me humility and i need it by the bucket load. But it's all happening, planning can still be done and also some new exciting sponsors are getting involved, more on that and more blogs soon!