Rebecca Rusch Finishes the Brutal 350 Mile Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska

Feb 28, 2019
by Sarah Moore  

bigquotesI'm scared. For the first time in 10 years, I'm legitimately scared for an expedition. I swore I would never do the Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI). I'm not intimidated by the distance, but instead by the brutal elements and conditions of the Alaskan winter. You see, I don't belong in the cold. I have the unfortunate combination of poor circulation and active sweat glands. In the subzero temperatures of Alaska, this can be a deadly combination. I also have lung and breathing issues that have caused debilitating infections in cold or long races.Rebecca Rusch

Those were the Queen of Pain's words before embarking in her latest adventure. The organizers of the Iditarod Trail Invitational say that it "forces competitors to reach deep within themselves to persist while being besieged by relentless physical and mental challenges." The field in the 350-mile event included 28 bikers, 19 runners and two skiers.

Today, Rebecca Rusch finished the 350-mile event with a time of 3 days 20 hours 55 minutes. Food and basic shelter were provided at checkpoints along the course, but it was otherwise self-supported and many riders including Rebecca had to sleep trailside when the exhaustion became too much. Temperatures were -23 degrees Celcius (-10 Fahrenheit) at the finish line.

bigquotesExploration and pushing outside my comfort zone have been part of who I am my entire life. I've lived and preached the rewards of taking calculated risk for decades. What I realized this year, as I turned 50, is that it had been a while since I'd taken a really big athletic risk myself. I've done hard things, but haven't had that palms-sweating, heart-racing feeling about an expedition for 10 years. I realized I needed to really and truly challenge myself again. It was time to take on something bigger than I've done before.Rebecca Rusch

Congratulations to Rebecca and all of the other competitors. For those of you still out on the trail finishing up the 350-mile event or competing in the 1000-mile event, we wish you the best of luck! You can follow the live tracking here and see the full roster of athletes here.

Photos on Rebecca's social media are by: Dan Bailey

Author Info:
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Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,336 articles

  • 107 2
 What a badass. Not just her, but all of the athletes out there.
  • 20 0
 100+ miles a day in the snow! That lady is hard as nails!
  • 60 4
 I swear to god if anyone bashes Fatbikes in this article...
  • 5 62
flag milkdrop (Feb 28, 2019 at 20:03) (Below Threshold)
 I would. Fatbikes are very silly in almost every situation - on a compact snow/ice a commuter with studded tyres is always better, and for winter touring on a dip snow and in woods skiing is better.
  • 2 42
flag SickEdit (Feb 28, 2019 at 21:47) (Below Threshold)
 I've got to admit, they are trying really hard to justify it.
  • 22 2
 You must admit that it would be more impressive if it was 500miles on a fat unicycle...
  • 34 1
 It's funny how one trick pony lots of MTBers can be. Fuck, it's a bike, you can have a fuck ton of fun on it.
  • 12 1
 @milkdrop: well there is a race in Europe, 300km distance. Runners with snowshoes, biker's and skiers are allowed. Guess who are the fastest by far? The fat biker's...
  • 13 19
flag WAKIdesigns (Feb 28, 2019 at 23:20) (Below Threshold)
 @Hand-of-Midas: no, actually you can’t. It’s like saying that crossing Antarctica is just as fun as luge, because it involves a sledge too. Or that a 50yr old parapelgic pole dancer can get guys red hot, just because she is a woman. No, just no. This race was not about fun, it was about “facing the challenge”, “overcoming” and stuff. No point in introducing fun appropriation and fun equality.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: If you don't have fun when facing a challenge and overcoming it, that's your way of seing life and I respect it. On my side, I enjoy those kind of situations.
  • 8 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I raced the Iditabike in 1989, and although it nearly killed me at night, in the day time when the sun was out, surrounded by fantastic scenery and feeling like Superman for being able to ride in an area so inaccessible to mere mortals was extremely fun. The rollercoaster ride between fear and fun made the fun peaks higher, more so for me than cleaning some sketchy rock face or clearing a gap jump that haunted me for a while
  • 1 0
 @taprider: That's awesome! Were you running double-rim wheels, or normal ones?
  • 3 4
 @taprider: when I get into a haf frozen lake, sit there for a few minutes and come out I feel incredible. I just don’t tell everyone that they must try it and it is one of the most amazing things a man can do. That it is just as fun as “insert whatever you want”. The kick after overcoming a challenge is an extremely common thing and one doesn’t need to go to extremes to experience it. Everyone has different needs, but saying that fat bikes are as fun to ride as every other bike because it has two wheels is a stretch. It falls under get cheap props category and pretty much none of the proppers would actually subscribe to what they are propping
  • 1 0
 @ ^
  • 3 0
 @dolface: regular 2.25". One guy (Roger forget his last name) had four tire/rims laced to two hubs. For most of the route regular tires were faster, and even Roger couldn't ride the moose wrecked/cratered section of trail
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Don't know what happened to that last comment, but here it is again
I had Type 1 fun too. Whoops to pump, speed, scenery, corners, other racers to chase down etc..
Much like riding downhill is fun, but involves riding/pushing your bike to the top of the hill
  • 41 0
 Congrats to her. On another note, glad to see her ENVE rims held up lol.
  • 5 0
 Laughing my ass off
  • 3 0
 “Guaranteed for the most technical snow lines”
  • 20 0
 Weren't fatbikes kinda invented for this type of event? I recall back in the day that John Stamstad fabricated some sort of fat bike by lashing 2 regular 26" MTB wheels together (side by side)....
  • 16 0
 350miles???..impressive...if the ride goes more than 40km and doesn't end with a pub Im upset
  • 14 1
 Congrats Rebecca Rusch! The Queen of Pain slays another challenge!
  • 8 1
 AK the “adventure cyclist” dreamland. 365 days a year of riding! You get 300 extreme weather days and then 60ish enjoyable ones that don’t involve sweat freezing to your body or pneumonia inducing rain.... That said, it needs to be on your bucket list!
  • 5 0
 Hard. As. Nails. Hell yes- that's super inspirational and what an awesome role model. Can't wait til my daughter is old enough to ride a bike and I can show her pictures of this.
  • 3 0
 "I have the unfortunate combination of poor circulation and active sweat glands. In the subzero temperatures of Alaska, this can be a deadly combination. I also have lung and breathing issues that have caused debilitating infections in cold or long races." Strange choices made here...
  • 6 0
 Such a badass, huge congratulations to RR.
  • 7 1
 Wow Rebecca you are unstoppable awesome!!!
  • 5 0
 what is the mouth thing?
is it a pre-breather to warm one's breath, or something to keep goggles from fogging?
  • 3 0
 As I understand, most things that cover the mouth for warmth just freeze solid from moisture in your breath, and these do better in that regard. I've ridden 2.5 hours in -52f, but never anything as long as events like this. Insanity.
  • 3 1
 @Hand-of-Midas: where the frozen hell did you find -52F and why did you stay there long enough to want to ride a bike in it!?
  • 2 0
 @ryetoast: I've biked to work at -55C and breathing while riding uphill was making me cold from the inside out
breathing while going down hill made me want to puke. And it was only 3km
I was thinking about something on my back with tubes to my face mask to work as a preheater, either with my body heat or with batteries, but at that point, you would nearly be dressed like an astronaut
  • 4 0
 I have commuted in -25c on a bike and it is hell on earth. or rather, like north of the wall with the night king etc. Very impressive well done Rebecca
  • 6 1
 Congratulations Rebecca! That's incredible.
  • 5 1
 Jeeezus........lung and circulation gosh, this is an incredible feat............Congrats to her.
  • 5 0
 bad ass. Couldn't do it.
  • 3 0
 badass. I wonder what type of gear and clothing she used to help her through.
  • 5 2
  • 5 1
 mad props!
  • 5 1
  • 4 0
  • 2 0
 A fantastic achievement, but did I read 19 nutters ran it??? If so that is insane
  • 3 0
 A bike check would be sick.
  • 2 0
 my air shox would not even last a day out their
  • 3 0
 Hats off!
  • 2 0
 IDITAROD is a palindrome for Rad Idiot!... Congrats you nutter!
  • 2 0
 What a great accomplishment, congratulations!
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 She's properly nails Big Grin
  • 2 1
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