Coach Ricci Newland at the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon

What’s the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon you ask?

Below is Ricci’s Summary of this epic adventure:

Todd Kercheval, a member of Pure Austin, approached me a year ago about doing this crazy race in Alaska called the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon.

He said it was an Ironman distance — maybe a tad bit longer and a little crazier in Alaska.
My first thought was what are you nuts?
My second thought was hmm! I’ve never been to Alaska – why not!

The entry was maxed out at 310 people and was sold out in 2 days. Todd and myself were 2 of those crazy people who managed to get in to this first of a kind race in North America.

The race started in Seward, Alaska, swimming 2.6 miles in frigid waters of Resurrection Bay. Water temp on race day went from 56 degrees to 46 degrees – which was freakin’ cold.

The bike transition for me was 30 mins of shaking and shivering while my support stud – Joe Phillips, my client – helped me warmup with soup and a change clothes until I was ready to ride. This took a while as it was raining and wet as well.

Finally on the bike, I kept shaking and shivering until about 9 miles in, until I hit the first 4000 foot climb from Seward, Alaska up through the Seward Highway, 113 miles towards Girdwood. The roads finally dried out and I felt better and started getting serious on the bike and managed to get through it without any mechanicals (phew).

The only support you had was the people we brought with us and this was Joe’s job, and I must say he was outstanding and was there the whole way.  I couldn’t have done it without him.

Ooh, and I forgot to mention he had to run up and down Mount Alyeska with me for the last 7 miles of the marathon –  a vertical climb of over 4000 feet up and down-  twice! This man will be nearly 73 years old and doesn’t look a day over 50👍

After Mile 80 of the bike, I would not see Joe until mile 14 of the run so I was alone with possibilities of seeing bear and moose on the route.

Finally off Seward Highway, I transitioned from bike to run –  I put on my 7 pound pack and started the run headed to Girdwood.

.The jingle of my bear bell kept me company, and also the odd cheer I would hear from my phone from clients and friends, as we had to carry it for safety. The RaceJoy app was tracking us so family and friends could see our progress during the race.

Here’s a video from Mile 9 of the Run: Ricci_Alaska

The weather on the run was beautiful and the views I had of Alaska were breathtaking.
I made it to mile 14, saw Joe, refueled my body then headed of to the next 6 miles which was pretty hilly. We did have a warning of a black bear and 3 cubs on the course which I didn’t see, fortunately. I met up with Joe at the bottom of the mountain, took a deep breath and said ‘7 miles and we are done!’

We both headed up the mountain with mosquitoes in tow 😂

The views were amazing but the route was steep and extreme under foot. We made it to the peak of the mountain, took a few pics then started to head down the mountain.The descent was just as hard, finally down the bottom with 3 miles to go. We would see people hunched over looking like death — I did feel that way a few times myself.

I could smell the finish line but like the first 3 miles this was a killer with 15 switchbacks, dangerous drops and a lot of cussing.

I could hear the cheering and the announcer!  After nearly 17 hours of extreme conditions, hardheadedness, crazy talk to myself and a few Maori Hakas for motivation and of course probably the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen, Joe and I finished the race.

There were a lot of emotions and hugs in completing this race.

My final thoughts after completing this physical challenge was how can I describe my experience to someone to fully understand what I went through?

Well in one word it would be UNREAL.

The beauty ,the pain, the support, the people of Alaska was UNREAL

Back home in New Zealand there is a native word it is KIA KAHA. Basically it is my mantra with everything I do. It means Heart and Pride.

No matter what challenge comes into your life put your heart, soul, and pride into it and you will conquer anything.

We have failures but it’s how we bounce back that’s how we conquer !

Good luck in your next adventure.

Ricci.

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