While the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was making statewide, national and international news over the past week, another group of trail enthusiasts was blazing a path alongside the mushers.
Miron Golfman of Anchorage crossed the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Invitational in downtown Nome Wednesday at 12:51 p.m. The human-powered race follows the path of the famed dog race.
The Iditarod Trail Invitational, a bike, ski and foot race, travels from Knik Lake near Anchorage to the interior community of McGrath, continuing to the Bering Sea before reaching the trail’s conclusion in Nome.
The course travels along the Historic Iditarod Trail and, according to race organizers, requires self-sufficiency and resilience to make it through up to 30 days and nights of freezing temperatures and inclement weather.
Golfman left Knik Lake on Feb. 26 and finished in Nome with a moving time of 6 days, 21 hours, 5 minutes. He had a resting time of 10 days, 1 hour, 34 minutes. He averaged 5.9 mph while underway and covered an average of 57.1 mile a day.
Conditions were treacherous from the start, he said.
“We went right into first night, and it was negative 30 degrees out on the Yentna River, and a lot of folks got frostbite and got eliminated immediately … on day two we hit this big snowstorm and we all contended with that,” Golfman said. “We were able to get up and over the Alaska Range before the snowstorm hit us, but we were just like everyone else contending with that and 80 mph winds, and it was whiteout snowing.”
Conditions warmed up on Monday, and that brought a different kind of challenge to the trail, according to Golfman.
“I clocked 49 degrees on my thermometer at the peak in one day and so everything turned to slush,” Golfman said. “I ended up spending almost two days pushing my bike and my every bit of gear got wet because the second day it rained, and I was pushing my bike through about seven hours of rain. Everything got drenched.”
Riding on his 9ZERO7 Lynxbike, Golfman was racing to raise funds for the Ride to Endure project.
“This was my second annual ride for the Ride to Endure Campaign, which is a charity that I started a couple years back,” Golfman said. “It is raising funds and awareness for ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
Golfman’s uncle is six years into his battle with that disease. Golfman has previously lived with him and was his primary caregiver. It was the experience of taking care of him that inspired Golfman to pursue his passion of becoming a bike racer.
A total of 98 competitors took part in this year’s invitational. Three more bikers finished side by side-by-side Thursday night just before Iditarod musher Mike Williams, Jr. crossed under the burled arch in Nome.