Endurance: From Our Search for All Things Woolly...

Outside magazine, May 1995


Endurance: From Our Search for All Things Woolly...
By Todd Balf


John Stamstad is the acknowledged master of wilderness endurance races, so it surprised nobody that last February in Alaska he overcame the woolliest Iditasport Human Powered Ultra Marathon in memory, finishing first. Testament to the harsh conditions, which included blowing snow and temperatures of minus-20 degrees, is that Stamstad biked the 155-mile course in 25 hours and nine minutes, almost nine hours slower than his winning time the year before. Stamstad, 29, even took a layover--his first in four races--sleeping four hours at the Big Susitna River checkpoint, 35 miles shy of the finish. "It wasn't the sort of year where you could take your hands off the handlebars and go whistlin' down the river on hardpack," says organizer Dan Bull. "It required real technical snow-riding." It also required a fair bit of skill not to get blown off course. Twenty-two of the 79 starters didn't finish, but the youngest competitor, 14-year-old Connecticut native Jason Milas, did, having been miraculously discovered by a passing race official on a snow machine after he wandered some 18 miles off course. "He had bivvied overnight and was hypothermic when they found him," says Bull, "but it could've been worse." Milas recovered and chalked up a 13th-place finish.

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