Tailwind Nutrition athletes, Neil Beltchenko and Grant Maughn, took home first and third last week at the 2018 Iditarod Trail Invitational in the Bike 350 and Foot 350, respectively. Using Tailwind’s Endurance Fuel to stay hydrated and fueled throughout the competition, both athletes faced one of the most challenging experiences on the planet.
The 2018 Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) is a true test of human endurance, adaptability and mental fortitude. Beltchenko and Maughn traveled 350 miles on the historic Iditarod Trail, the week before the renowned dog sled race, either by bike or on foot carrying all of their gear with them. With only six checkpoints that offer food and minimal sleeping quarters, racers are expected to be mostly self-sufficient and battle some of the most intense weather conditions in the world to get to the finish line in McGrath, Alaska.
Neil Beltchenko, founder of Bikepacker Magazine and ultra-endurance athlete who holds the record for the fastest traverse of the Arizona and Colorado Trail bike routes, competed in the ITI Bike 350 where he took third last year. Battling gnarly conditions and waist deep snow that made traversing difficult, to say the least, Beltchenko was in the lead by the 130 mile mark at Finger Lakes. For the next 220 miles of the race Beltchenko was alone, dealing with 75 mph winds, hallucinations and fierce snowstorms to take first place with a time of 3 days, 1 hour and 4 minutes.
“After putting in my time at last year’s race where I took third, I set my sights on cutting down time and being more efficient in route this year,” stated Beltchenko. “As the race unfolded, conditions deteriorated yet I found myself with a solid lead halfway through the race. Knowing anything could happen in the race, I kept pushing as hard as I could, including literally pushing my bike through deep snow when it was un-rideable. I had to use my soft flask bottles for my Tailwind because the water would freeze so fast out there. Every time I would mix up some Tailwind and chug it down I would get an instant jolt, and that was a true highlight of my calorie intake during the race!”
Grant Maughn was returning to the ITI Foot 350 for the second time as well. Maughn pulled out of last year’s race after a storm with -60° temperatures left him with a bad case of frostbite on his fingers and nose. This year, balmy conditions of -30° enabled him to pull his sled and finish the race the morning of the sixth day in third place. Maughn ran into a couple of obstacles along the way, such as forgetting his drop bag at a checkpoint and having only a bag of licorice another racer had dropped and one stick pack of Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel—which he poured straight into his mouth with a chaser of snow—to get him through the 75 miles to the next checkpoint.
“The ITI is an incredibly difficult race that requires not only stamina but good gear and skills,” says Maughn. “You need to be able to help yourself in difficult situations and more importantly to realize before you get into those situations and avoid them. Self-management is utmost importance.”
Maughn carried two one-liter thermoses for hot drinks plus a one-liter bottle for his Tailwind Nutrition mix. “It’s surprising how thirsty you can get in winter races and how much sweating you can do pulling the sled, so it’s good to have cool liquid,” Maughn said. “The electrolytes in Tailwind helped it not freeze as quickly as plain water, so I carried stickpacks of the Endurance Fuel and used them to refill my bottle at checkpoints and creeks.”
About Tailwind Nutrition
Since 2012, Tailwind Nutrition has been manufacturing all-natural endurance nutrition products that are free of GMOs, dairy, soy, and gluten, are easy to digest, and support an athlete’s fueling and recovery needs during exercise. Owned, operated and manufactured in Durango, CO, Tailwind Nutrition’s specially formulated drink mixes help athletes perform and compete at their highest level without the worry of food allergies or sensitivities. Tailwind is all you need, all day. Really. For more information visit tailwindnutrition.com.