Alaskaman: Before I Go . . . by Taryn Spates

A view from the bike course.

We are approaching “Go time!” for Alaskaman race departure and I carved out some time to share a few more nifty details that I think many of you will appreciate.

First off, if you would like to follow along on our all-day adventure, (literally the sun rises around 4:45AM, and does not set until 11:15PM), you can track us on the app RaceJoy.

All of the information is available in this handy tutorial:

I have learned over the past year that it is a unique kind of athlete that signs up for a race like this, and I am certain that I will be sharing this event with a fantastic group of people. All of them are tough and adventurous, clearly, however, some of them have never even raced a full ironman distance triathlon, but were intrigued and inspired by this race, and decided to give it a go. I think that is amazing. It's also a little nutty, but I can’t wait to explore Alaska with these soon-to-be no longer strangers. There are also two very special competitors traveling from Arizona that deserve some attention, Ultraman Austraila’s second place female finisher, and bike course record holder, Mary Knott, and her prolific Ironman finisher husband, Army Veteran, and social media maven, Dan Beaver.

 Mary and Dan at the Oceanside 70.3 awards ceremony.

Mary and Dan are my teammates on TeamHPB, where we receive the careful and creative guidance of Hillary Biscay as our coach. Mary is one of TeamHPB’s coaches, too, so she is shepherding her own group of tenacious and passionate athletes toward their triathlon goals. Meanwhile, I have been in awe of Mary for quite some time because she is not only an accomplished triathlete, but she is rooted in trail running, and her swimming prowess dominates both the pro and age-group ranks. However, the best part is that Mary has reached her many accolades by curating years of hard work and hustle. To say that I am looking forward to sharing a race course with her is the understatement of the year.

I encourage all of you to read about Mary’s Ultraman journey, and other amazing race and life stories on her blog here:

Another worthy note about Dan and Mary is that they own and operate the top Running store in Gilbert, AZ, Cadence Running Company. Many of you know how much I value the importance of wearing proper running shoes, and how being fit for the correct shoe for you is the key to comfortable and competitive running

A group run at Cadence Running Company

Therefore, even though I live in Southern California, I ordered from Cadence Running Company a few months ago, because I wanted to go the Top Gun of running stores, and they had my order shipped to me quickly. So, if you are ever nearby Gilbert, go visit the store in person, if not, check out their website and order the goods from afar.

Regarding the race itself, a few folks have asked me if this race is a Kona qualifier, no, it is not. The only races that are Kona qualifiers are branded Ironman races, and this race is an “extreme triathlon”, so it is not in the same lane at all as Ironman. In fact, the distances are different as well, and seem to be ever-changing, a natural effect of an inaugural race in such challenging terrain as Alaska’s, but the current distances are: 2.6 mile swim, 111 mile bike ride, 27.2 mile run.

The swim exit.

This race is truly a one-off experience that we are choosing to race because it exists, that’s it, not because it leads to any other level of greatness or grandeur. Choosing to sign up for a race like this versus an Ironman is like taking a big bite out of life blindfolded, instead of taking a big bite with your eyes wide open. Both are mighty mouthfuls of adventure, but with Ironman you know what to expect, and know you will be taken care of, whereas the visionary team behind Alaskaman is literally sending us into the wilderness with a bell and a thumb’s up. I can’t wait!

 “Why go out there every afternoon and beat out your brains? What is the logic of punishing yourself each day, of striving to become better, more efficient, tougher? The value in it is what you learn about yourself. In this sort of situation all kinds of qualities come out – things that you may not have seen in yourself before.” – Steve Prefontaine

These MUSE lyrics will be my mantra on Saturday.:)

Taryn Spates is a standout age-group triathlete and SMASH-Dimond team member. She wrote a book entitled 35 by 35: A Runner's Quest about her first 35 marathon adventures. Read her last post on parenting & triathlon here.

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