Residents of Black Mountain were doing double takes this winter at the sight of a runner pulling a 60-pound plastic sled over streets and trails. That would have been
Black Mountain Running Company owner Peter Ripmaster training for one one his greatest challenges yet, the Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI), the world’s longest human-powered winter ultra-marathon. Beginning in late February, 55 elite athletes tackled the 350-mile Alaskan path between Anchorage and McGrath, running, biking or skiing. Ripmaster, one of the 14 running competitors, will share intriguing tales and show stunning pictures of his experience.
Ripmaster, the “50 Marathon Man”, has been doing marathons since 2008 when a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway turned into an impromptu 26 mile run. That run became a mission. Since then, he’s been averaging a marathon a month, raising over $25,000 for Susan G. Comen For a Cure efforts in honor of his mother, and he’s currently working with the Athletes for a Cure Prostate Cancer Foundation in honor of his father. He pays his own expenses for participation in the events so that all money raised goes directly to the cause.
The Iditarod Trail Invitational takes place over a section of the same course used by the fabled annual Iditarod dog sled race. Black Mountain weather doesn’t approach the kind of numbing cold and snow served up by an Alaskan winter, but he prepared by averaging 50 miles a week in training time, half of it pulling his improvised equipment sled. ITI racers had 11 days to cover the 350 miles, but Ripmaster’s secondary goal, other than completing the event, was to finish in seven days.
In addition to hearing Ripmaster’s gripping account of how the adventure turned out, attendees can enter a raffle for several pairs of high end sporting shoes. There will be a chance to interact informally with the speaker afterward, and music for dancing will be provided by the White Horse.