A look into the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon

Alaskaman.jpg
The Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon began at 4 a.m. in Seward, pictured here in 2017. Participants start the triathlon with a 2.6-mile swim in 50-degree water. Photo credit: Eric Wynn

One year after its debut, 320 athletes signed up for the second year of the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon, which took place July 21. Included in the 320 participants were a handful of second-time racers, willing to battle out the Alaskan wilderness over 141.8 miles and a total 11,635-foot elevation gain.

The event begins with a 2.6-mile swim in the cold waters of Seward with an average temperature of 50 degrees. Once completing the swim, competitors are expected to bike 113 miles from Seward to Girdwood. To finish it off, the athletes must run a complete marathon throughout Alyeska Ski Resort with a 2,134 meter elevation gain.

Nathan Teater, an Anchorage local, decided to give the event another go. Last year, Teater finished at 86th with a time of time of 16 hours and 38 minutes.

“My strategy last year was to enjoy the experience and just finish the race, which I did,” Teater said.

Teater realized after the fact that he could have significantly altered his pre-race training. He said that he did a poor job with his race day nutrition that resulted in suffering cramps during the beginning of his run.

He felt that other training could have better prepared him.

“Hopefully by focusing more on core strength over the last year, along with a better nutrition plan on race day will translate to better results,” Teater said.

- Advertisement -

In comparison to Teater’s emphasis on core and nutrition, the 2017 women’s winner and Texas local, Morgan Chaffin, took a well-rounded approach.

“I added in more stair climbing, and did lower more frequent running miles outside,” Chaffin said in an email.

Her training also comes with the plan to compete in the Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon this year, which is two weeks after the Alaskaman.

The Norseman is an extreme triathlon in Norway that features a 2.5-mile swim by leaping off of a ferry and requiring a wetsuit, a 112-mile bike and a marathon.

Due to the extreme nature of both triathlons, Chaffin explained she has been focusing extensively on endurance.

“I really enjoyed the climate, the terrain and the surroundings [of Alaska]… Most of the time, I didn’t realize I was doing an extreme event because I was surrounded by such amazing scenery,” Chaffin added.

Although she found significant success last year, with a No. 1 women finish and No. 6 overall finish, she is returning in hopes to improve her time.

In 2017, Chaffin finished the race in just 12 hours and 47 minutes, but the course was reported to be more difficult in 2018, providing an extra challenge.

The continued success is what race founder and designer Aaron Palain was aiming for. He created the event because he thought there was no better place for “an extreme triathlon of grand proportions than the Last Frontier.”

The unique aspects of the event are what Palain is hoping to use to motivate people to come back year after year.

“Our AlaskaMan distances are all longer than most normal long distance triathlons, we have 54-degree water with no visibility, our bike course is one of the most beautiful on earth, but the valleys and mountains can create some extreme weather and our run course takes athletes through just about every terrain imaginable,” Palain said.

To learn more about the event itself, visit www.akxtri.com or their Facebook page of Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon (@akxtri) and to access the 2018 race results visit www.akxtri.com/results.