Iditarod Trail Invational 350 Mile Interview and Ben’s Skimo Tips

The picture below shows it all. With a pulk behind them and hundreds of miles of baren tundra in front of them, it takes a special type of athlete to line up at the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Alaskan transplant David Johnston has won the event six times in the last seven years, but this was Gavin Woody’s first attempt at the 350 mile distance. (There’s a shorter option, then there’s the 1,000 mile version.) 

Iditarod Trail Invitational
For 350 miles. Pic by Gavin Woody.

Six weeks prior to toeing the line at ITI, Gavin Woody ran the toughest ultramarathon in Europe….The 268 mile Spine Race in the UK.  And two weeks prior to the start of the ITI, David Johnston ran—and won–the freezing cold Susitna 100 miler. At the end of the Iditarod Trail Invitational, both men finished together, tying for the top spot.

Gavin Woody David Johnston
Gavin Woody David Johnston

This podcast episode is a recount of their preparation and a breakdown of their five days out on the tundra. For two guys who barely knew each other when the gun blew, they’ve developed a bond that few share. They talk about what they learned from watching an experienced competitor make a near fatal pacing mistake, and the joys and wonder of blue tarps and Budweiser. 

Episode Notes

Here’s our original interview with Gavin Woody from January 2017.

Here’s the site for the Iditarod Trail Invitational.

Here’s Gavin’s interview with The Ginger Runner after his The Spine Race finish in 2018.

David Johnston’s ultrasignup.  And Gavin Woody’s list.

Here is Yitka’s excellent biography of Gavin’s life and adventures.

More on David Rosales’ outro music right this way.

Dave Johnston
Dave Johnston: Snow, shortsleeves, Buds, and a pulk.

Gear Talk with Ben

URP Gear Editor Ben Zuehlsdorf joins me at the end of the show to talk about his introduction to ski mountaineering/skimo.  We talk where, why, and how to get into the sport, he fills me in on his gear choices, and he talks about how he thinks it’ll help his trail running. Below is his gear lineup:

Skis: Dynafit Speed 90 ($985) 

Boots: Salomon S/Lab X-Alp ($900)
Bindings: Salomon MTN + BRAKE ($450)

Skins: Dynafit Speedskin Speed 90  ($250) 

Avalanche/Safety Kit: Black Diamond/Pieps Safety Set ($550)


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