Iditarod Champion, Pete Ripmaster

April 26, 2018

A word of warning- this blog post contains extreme temperatures, gale force winds, and a pack of wolves.


Asheville boasts its fair share of impressive individuals. However, few compete with Pete Ripmaster. Don’t know Pete? You should!


Quite possibly the most genuine dude you’ll ever meet, Pete won the 2018 Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) Foot 1000 in March, a race only a handful of people have dared to attempt. Let’s take a moment to learn about what this race entails and discover just how rad Pete is.


The ITI Foot 1000 is the longest winter ultra-marathon in the world, and has built a reputation as this planet’s toughest winter race. Racers must complete the 1000-mile journey across the far reaches of the Alaskan wilderness to reach Nome, Alaska within 30-days. 1000 miles!? That’s the distance from Asheville to Austin, Texas! Add in -60F temperatures (similar to the avg. temperature on Mars), hungry wolves, lots of snow, and some gale force winds and you have yourself the ITI Foot 1000. To make the race even more challenging participants carry their survival gear with them, traversing the final 650 miles without support. It’s safe to say this puts 99% of us in the definitely won’t try this in my lifetime category. Then there’s Pete.


He ran his first marathon in 2008—fast forward 10-years and he has amassed an impressive list of life experiences. After completing 50 marathons in 50 states he graduated to ultramarathons, with the goal of competing in the ITI Foot 1000. No ordinary ultra-marathoner can just sign up for the ITI Foot 1000 and get ready to trek through snow and ice for a t-shirt, coffee mug, and champions patch. Participants must first compete in the ITI 350 to demonstrate a mastery of winter survival skills and self-reliance before tackling the ITI 1000.


Starting in 2014, Pete competed in his first ITI Foot 350, finishing in last place. Undeterred, he returned in 2016 to take third place. After proving he can survive in conditions most would call outrageously hostile, he set his sights on the ultimate test of endurance, mental fortitude, and resilience— the ITI 1000.


200 miles into his 2016 attempt Pete fell through a layer of ice, becoming fully submerged in the frozen river he was traversing. On sheer adrenaline and willpower, he fought against the current to haul himself out of the river. Freezing and close to hypothermia, Pete continued an additional 300 miles (that’s the distance from Asheville to Nashville!) before pulling out of the race.


Generally, a close brush with death dissuades even the most resilient of humans, but Pete was back in Alaska toeing the line in 2017.  Unfortunately, all racers had to stop due to extreme winter weather (think continuous -60°F temperatures). BUT, in 2018, at 4:30am on March 24th, Pete crossed the finish line victorious! With a final time of 26 days, 13 hours, and 44 minutes he finished an entire 12-hours ahead of the 2nd place finisher.


His journey to become ITI Foot 1000 champion is one of many reasons why Pete Ripmaster continues to inspire us here at Darby Comm. We can’t wait to see what challenge he tackles next! If you spot Pete around town throw him a wave, he’s sure to throw one back with a giant smile.



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