Transcript for the Piece Audio version of Inaugural Whites 100 Challenges Athletes in Remote Alaska
Time: Long version - 5:34
Short version – 4:42
A 30 day public-comment period, 600 homemade cookies, 16 Volunteers, an infinite number of hours behind a computer plus countless loads of firewood and gallons of water and fuel made a 100 mile adventure race possible in the White Mountains National Recreation Area this past weekend. Emily Schwing has more.
What began as a daydream during a river trip last May, became a reality for Fairbanks outdoor enthusiasts and race directors Ed Plumb and Ann Farris this weekend.
AF: Well were crossing the trails you know so on beaver creek the trails crisscross and you can see some signs and going oh yeah this is where we skied last winter and … It just seemed like a fantastic idea.>
And so became the White Mountains 100 - a 100 mile human powered wilderness adventure race in the White Mountains National Recreation Area, 38 miles north of Fairbanks.
The inaugural event required a special permit from the Bureau of Land Management. Collin Cogley is the Outdoor Recreation Planner for the BLM’s Eastern Interior Field Office in Fairbanks.
Unlike other adventure races in Alaska, this race course had everything from rough and uneven, tussock covered trail and large swaths of oozing overflow, to what’s known as the “Wickersham Wall” – a near vertical hill about 6 miles from the finish line and also a series of “ice-lakes” near the Windy Gap cabin about 62 miles in. To all of that, add blinding sunlight and sub-zero night-time temperatures in the Beaver Creek River valley along with howling winds, gusting to 20 miles per hour. Ed Plumb says that kind of challenge is what a race like this is all about.
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In addition to a tough and variable trail, this year’s low snow conditions also made for an “adventure.” But it wasn’t as if racers were left entirely to their own devices. When the civil air patrol got wind of Ed Plumb’s idea, they asked to use the event as a training mission.
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Four mandatory checkpoints were set up along the course and racers were expected to carry along survival gear… just in case.
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Early on Sunday morning, skiers, bikers and runners from Fairbanks, Anchorage and one Juneau competitor lined up for the start.
Byte: countdown to start – in the clear for 4 seconds
Racers were given 60 hours to complete the 100 mile loop, but they all finished long before, with the last skier coming in just before 10pm on Monday night.
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To limit the amount of wear and tear on the trail the pool of racers was limited to 50 competitors. Some of them had never been to the White Mountains, while others used the trails in the Rec Area to train for the event. But everyone had a reason to race.
Fairbanks resident Jeff Oatley biked his way to a win, finishing in just 12 hours and 37 minutes.
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Farris and Plumb agreed the competition heading into the race was stiff.
“AF: Yeah absolutely, there’s some great athletes doing this race
EP: and the thing with this is that biking is pretty straight forward, I mean you have a bike that you use. But with skiing, you have that – you know do I skate ski, do I use short skate skis, do I classic ski, you know there’s so many variations and that may determine, partially determine who gets ahead.”
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The first woman to finisher was also a biker - Heather Best – who came in Sunday night, 13 hours and 55 minutes after she started.
The first skier to cross the finish line was also from Fairbanks – Mike Kramer skate skied his way around the loop in a quick 16 hours and 17 minutes.
Trystan Herriot, also from Fairbanks was the first and only runner to complete the Whites 100, in 36 hours and 23 minutes.
Aside from some minor frostbite and one racer who scratched due to a recurring injury, the race went of without a hitch. Both Ed Plumb and Anne Farris say they hope the Whites 100 might become an annual event.
In Fairbanks, I’m Emily Schwing.Back