An ultra marathoner whom I, and many others, have quickly grown a deep respect for is Geoff Roes. He has dominated the ultra scene for a number of years but probably first became a common name with his 2010 Western States 100 mile win which has now been made into the remarkable and intriguing film “Unbreakable” His quite humble nature mixed with a relentless drive to push past physical limits is simply mind-blowing. His recent win at the 350 mile Iditarod invitational was unreal and a great example of his character. Such an event tends to shed light on exactly who we are at our core, this in itself has tremendous value. In modern-day society we do not face our core nearly enough to have any recollection of who we are and what we are made of. Geoff Roes defiantly found out what he was made of.
The Iditarod Invitational is a human-powered race through the Alaskan wild in the dead of winter set on the Iditarod trail. The race is open to bikers, skiers, and foot racers. Roes not only won the foot division but nearly beat out all the bikers as well. This was in large do to some extremely harsh conditions that brought the speed of travel down to a crawling pace, (Literally Crawling) With temperatures plummeting to -50 degrees at some points in the race survival becomes part of the game as well (not to mention having to cover 350 miles on snow) I have personally been in Alaska when it has been -50 degrees and basic breathing is difficult. When the air hits your lungs it feels like your whole chest is going to collapse.
One thing I admire about Roes performance was that he had attempted the race the previous two years and failed both times. I don’t know how many times in life we see the final product and success of an individual and later find how many times they failed before everything came together for them. I truly believe that fueled by failure is a trait of many successful people. Most people give up on something far to soon. Roes wrote up a very detailed race report about his experience. It is pretty long (it was a week-long race) but if you have some time it is defiantly worth the read. Roes character, respect for his fellow competitors and astounding drive to push pass human limits really comes through in this race report. Here is a short excerpt from his write up.
Day 6 / Mile 165 – 210 – “The wind had done its thing here also, and left in its wake some amazingly hard sastrugi drifts. It wasn’t the surface that was the comical part though; it was the lighting that was so flat that I couldn’t see what I was walking on. Numerous times I would walk off 2-foot ledges without having any idea that they were there. At times I was crawling on all fours just so I could feel what was underneath me. It was so difficult and absurd that it was funny. And so I walked, crawled, and inched my way upward toward the pass.” Geoff Roes