The 2012 ITI is officially over. The last racer, Dave Kelley, made it into McGrath at about 3:45 this morning. Noone, not even Tim Hewitt, is continuing on to Nome this year. I think this is the first year that has happened. The weather patter for the McGrath race this year was:
Day 1 - blizzard, dumped 3 feet of snow around the confluence of the Yentna and Susitna
Day 2 - high winds
Day 3 - some winds followed by another snow event.
(by this time I was sitting on my couch, so this is just armchair observing)
Day 4 - snow falling
Day 5 - negative 45 degree temps
Day 6 - negative 45 degree temps
Day 7, 8 - 8" to 1' of new snow fell on the final section of the course
Day 9 -Racers get passed by the Iditarod circus and the lead mushers.
Add to that a stomach bug that got passed around Rohn.
Nice way to lay it out there day by day, Sean. Day 1 through 8 was essentially Beat's pace, although he missed most of the 30 degree wet snowstorm into McGrath (and also managed to avoid that stomach bug.) Add also temperatures well above freezing (he saw up to 37) on day two, and you have a week of 80-degree temperature swings, heavy precip, and high winds. Who knows what "real winter" means, but in these years of advancing climate change, wild weather swings will probably become more common rather than less.
It's interesting you mention Billy's snowshoe and sled system may have not actually provided any advantage this year. I wondered about it myself. Beyond the time it takes to put everything together, a sled that massive would drag so much more than a wheeled bike, even in waist-deep snow. I'd be curious to hear what he thinks of that system. I also wonder how he's recovering from his frostbite. Have you heard from him?
Footwear seems tricky if you're planning for a lot of bike pushing. If you're basically prepared to push 300+ miles, you need something comfy that doesn't sweat too much, but if you're bringing a bike you also need something that will keep your feet warm during long periods of pedaling. I discovered in this year's Su100 that I can't just wear the warmest footwear possible and hike 100 miles. The system that worked great for me at -30 to -5 during an earlier training trek was terrible for -5 to +30 during the Su. I actually burned the skin around my ankles and had painful maceration across my soles because my feet were too hot (and wet) for too long. Of course layering systems are best but I think it would be a tough balance to strike. Anyway, footwear is tricky whether you're dragging a sled or using a bike as a laundry cart. Either way, if this year's weather is any indication of years to come, walking is probably the way to go in this race (unless your feet can handle 300+ miles of "walking" in ski boots.)