Alaska is in the news for more reasons than one. Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife spent their 4th of July fishing, kayaking and meeting with the locals. Later that month, Alaskaman 2017 brought 198 atheletes to the starting point of one of the most extreme triathlons on the planet.
What is Alaskaman?
The Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon is a 2.6 mile swim, a 113.5 mile bike ride, and a 27.5 mile run. A total of 142 miles that takes triathletes across breathtaking scenery from Resurrection Bay all the way to the top of Mt. Alyeska.
Who Won the First Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon?
The first ever race in 2017 was won by 33 year old Andrew Fast from Salt Lake City, Utah, who finished the race in 11 hours, 18 minutes, 29 seconds. He came in 20 minutes ahead of the runner-up.
What Is Challenging About Alaskaman?
Bear Mace. Open Course. Traffic. No Buoys. The challenges keep coming in Alaska.
Lifeguards, a few aid stations and flags along the run route – these are the frugal joys of Alaskman participants. In the inaugural event, each triathlete needed to carry their own cellphone with a backup battery and internet reception, and timing was set using the app RaceJoy.
The frigid waters of Resurrection Bay are definitely among the most unique tests of Alaskaman. The waters are at about 55 degrees in July. If you fear they could be colder, don’t worry. The water temperature is constantly checked, and if there are any changes, then the length of the swim is adjusted in the interest of safety. The Seward Firefighters used a bright light to guide swimmers because the bay is too deep & has currents too strong for swim buoys.
(Image: Photo Credits: Eric Wynn)
The elevation is almost daunting in this race. During the 113.5 mile bike course, triathletes face a gain of approximately 4,100 feet. The 27.5 mile run also gains roughly 6,000 feet with the last 7.5 miles seeing about 4,800 feet of the gain. The total gain is about 10,000 feet!
Time plays a crucial role in the race. The bike ride must be completed in eight hours, which means participants have to ride at about 14 miles per hour on average. They also have eight hours in which to finish the run, so they must meet an average of about 17:27 minute miles.
Finally, team work is essential. Each participant needs to bring their support crew since the race doesn’t have personnel support. At any given point in the race an athlete must have someone with them. Not doing so would mean they get disqualified.
What Are the Highlights of the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon?
The pictureseque views and complete one-ness with nature are the biggest highlights of the race. The elevations of Mount Ayleska provide great views of mountains, hanging glaciers, streams, and wildlife.
Speaking of wildlife, you could encounter some face-to-face during the bike and run. The race’s website offers some advice for participants, including carrying bear bells, horns, and Bear Mace. But nothing beats the thought that while you’re swimming in the waters of Resurrection Bay, your swimming companions could be anything from Humpback Whales, Minkle Whales, Fin Whales, Orca Whales to Dall’s Porpoise, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Halibut, Salmon, and a host of other amazing sea creatures.
However, there’s no need to fear. There’s an Alaskan Wildlife Expert at race briefings so you can get helpful tips for a safe swim. Be prepared for an extreme triathlon in all senses of the word.
Apart from the massive sense of accomplishment, finishers at the 2017 event got an Ulu pizza cutting knife, a t-shirt, a race photo and a delightful brunch with fresh Alaskan salmon.
How Do I Register for the Alaskaman Triathlon?
Lottery registration for 2018 opens in October and remains open for 1-2 weeks. The winners are notified and asked to confirm registration. There are a total of 320 spots available in the race: 10 Professionals, 10 Race Director’s Choice, 100 split between Alaskans and Volunteers and 200 General Lottery Ballot. The limited number is beneficial for several reasons. It helps increase race safety in addition to preventing disruption of local traffic, business and tourism.
What Events Lead up to the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon?
There are two kinds of major events you need to remember:
Online Conferences: Beginning November 1st 2017, there are monthly online athlete and support video conferences leading up to the race. Each conference deals with aspects of the race like training tips, rules, gear, wildlife, safety and more. Check the details here.
Alaskaman Social Swim Practice: On July 19, 2018, athletes, support, family, and friends can gather at the swim start at Miller’s Landing to experience the water firsthand, chat to fellow participants and have fun before the big day. This event is compulsory for participants.
What’s the Right Wetsuit for the Race?
When it comes to gear, a good thermal wetsuit that can keep you warm in the cold waters of Resurrection Bay is an absolute must. Wetsuits like the Orca Predator Women’s Wetsuit have a heat reflective titanium coating. The Blue Seventy Helix also has some features you don’t want to miss: aqua seal cuffs which prevent entry of cold water, quick exit legs, gender specific design and excellent buoyancy. High Vision Swim Caps are essential and Wetsuit Base Layers for additional warmth are other triathlon gear you should consider.
We are all thrilled about the Alaskaman Extreme Traithlon and can’t wait for the 2018 registration.
At Just Wetsuits, we have a fine collection of triathlon gear you need for cold water events such as this. Explore cold water wetsuits for rent and sale. If you need assistance, contact us at Just Wetsuits today.