RacingThePlanet Blogs 2022

View All Posts 2022 From : Iris Derke

Iris Derke
Take off!

13 August 2022 08:26 am (GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi

This is it. Bag is packed and everything fits inside!  3rd time 3rd race is the charm I guess. I remember trying to pack for Patagonia, my first, and in absolute tears because there was no way it was going to work. (Many thanks to the RTP tribe of repeat runners who descended on my hotel room and taught me quite a few things!). SO, thrilled that my sleeping bag is on the inside and all latches closed on the 1st try. Linda (a rockstar repeat offender down the hall) saved my angst by lending me a scale (and lots of great conversation!) and lo and behold I pulled 20 lbs on my first weigh in. (Mind you, I discreetly did not include my poles and sleeping pad on that check….but who’s counting).

I purposely am NOT opening my backpack again. The voices in my head telling me to add and subtract with no logic so at this point I yell BASTA and move on!

Up too early today for last texts and calls with home.  A beautiful morning meditation on the river to clear my head and fire up my belly.

Last clips of the nails to the nub and a small prayer to the gods of the feet to protect me this week. Much talk of “you’re going to get wet” making me think and rethink sock strategy but I will leave that for campfire chit chat tonite. I’m sure there will be a lot of great advice passed around. For now need some food and a very hot shower (the last for a week). We have a 3.5 hour bus ride to camp 1 in the middle of beautiful nowhere. Check ins and checking of all equipment to happen today as well, so I imagine it will be a long, if not slow, day.

Northern lights?  I am told that because it does not really get dark, the best time to see them is between midnight and 3am if the skies are clear. We are all already talking about setting northern light alarms to awaken everyone if there is a good night. Now that would be amazing. Here’s to hoping!

And yes Ella (our daughter): plenty of reindeer photos to come!!!

Comments: Total (2) comments

Liana Vinson

Posted On: 14 Aug 2022 12:48 pm

Hi Iris it was awesome seeing you do this good luck and it was fun having you over

Jennifer Holmes

Posted On: 14 Aug 2022 03:32 am

Go, Iris, go! This is so exciting! Keeping all the good thoughts for you for an amazing, empowering, healthy, spectacular time!
Iris Derke
Land of the Midnight Sun

11 August 2022 08:45 am (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

OK, so it’s the land of the midnight sun. I am told that there are a few hours of darkness, but I don’t believe I saw them last night!  Blackout drapes don’t work and are certainly not a staple inclusion of the RTP provided tents (ha!), so I believe the airplane blindfold will be my friend for the next week. This was something I was not exactly expecting in my preparations, but I’m not surprised and easy to fix. May any other upcoming challenges be the same!

I slept hard anyhow, even though my body said “WTF?! Time zones Iris!” to me this morning as I tried to get on schedule with an early 530 wake up.

It was better than caffeine to hit the breakfast room and see so many patches representing countries of the world: friendly faces, although a little timid to start, until I found a few old friends from the Patagonia race.   Always fun to reconnect and start sharing concerns about rain, weather, packing, and so on.  And a good reminder on flags and which countries they are!

Today is my day to truly lay out what’s going with me and what is staying at the hotel (a hard lean on the latter!). That gives me tomorrow for all of my second, third, and fourth checks of gear and second-guessing…if only I had a scale to weigh it all. I guess I will need to wait for Saturday check in at camp.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Finley Woolston

Posted On: 12 Aug 2022 02:51 pm

Hi, Iris. I forgot to check on you yesterday but here I am on Friday the 12th and wishing you all the best. Be careful but enjoy the challenge. I'll check back later and see what's going on.

Marco Grobbelaar

Posted On: 11 Aug 2022 12:15 pm

Good going, Iris. I look forward to meeting you and other racers soon. The few hours darkness could be a problem yes, but I honestly think we will be so exhausted after each stage that we can even sleep with our eyes open if needed. Haha. Good luck with the final packing and weigh-in.
Iris Derke
Hei Helsinki!

09 August 2022 07:10 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

Made it to Helsinki!! Have to say that I’ve never been here nor have any preconceptions of the place. And wow. I’m in love. Old world architecture + very chilled people + a coffee shop every 200 yards= a place that I’d like to get to know better!  I forgot how freeing it is to travel somewhere totally foreign and perhaps not on your agenda. Wonderful to hear the language, see the smiles, and consider all of the different foods. Moose meatballs, reindeer hotdogs, and every kind of fish under the sun. Everyone seems light and happy. And I love that I am often first addressed in Finnish (rather than English) with people thinking that I’m a local (blonde and blue eyed helps). I’m enjoying the opportunity to wander and accept my discombobulation after an overnight flight that was pretty much devoid of sleep. A 7 hour flight with the requisite staring out the window, delight in airplane food (which was amazingly good - crab cakes?  So many vegetables!) but too short to say it was a night of rest and recharge is just reality right now.  SO - a two shot Americano and some deep fried fish (Vendace), the national food of Finland, should keep me going midday!


17lbs on my back (so far) for this part of the trip from JFK to the starting line village of Roveniemi (noting that it’s a 3.5 bus ride Saturday morning from hotel to starting camp). I just packed the essentials on my back for carry on that would be earth shattering if I had to replace due to luggage lost. My checked in bags intact and accounted for so far. One more short shuttle air leg tomorrow north and then I can unpack all and repack to my hearts delight. I look forward to that moment and its resolution(s) (translation: final decisions on what’s going with me and what is NOT!). Too many lists and “what ifs” in my head that need to be put to bed.


Funny how little things make me happy (that’s a good sign): the “care bags” from the plane contained a toothbrush and the smallest of toothpastes that I pined for when packing for the race. End result: 2 of them added to my pack to last me the race and a happy heave-ho to the heavy “trial travel” size toothpaste sold by our local CVS. A win and less weight already!!!


Desperate to stay up to 8-9pm today (that 7 hour time change whips my butt) and be ready for an early run on the water tomorrow before my next flight. Sunset not until 10pm which helps!

Comments: Total (1) comments

Finley Woolston

Posted On: 09 Aug 2022 07:50 pm

Helloooooooooo, IRIS! I get to be the first to comment. Happy you made it in good order and very much hope you whip the jet lag. I'll keep very close watch as you proceed. And I still worry about you. :)
Iris Derke
"adventure, authenticity, and a refusal to obey limits"

06 August 2022 05:59 am (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time(US & Canada)

I love words – I love their power to educate, expand your creativity, and take you elsewhere.  As I continue my research/reread/retest pattern of the past year preparing for Lapland I found myself unable to sleep very early this morning (this time due to excitement) and reread the “Essentials” of the race.  The very last page which hasn’t had as much of my attention as race plans, nutrition, equipment, etc includes a beautifully written media statement about Racing the Planet describing their races, and most especially their people and experiences.  Oh so powerful – I love the punch of these words encapsulating some of the ethos of the “why” of doing something like this, and the shared perspective of the other participants I had a chance to connect with in past RTP experiences: “…mingling around Racing the Planet’s signature campfires with a shared commitment to adventure, authenticity, and a refusal to obey limits”.  (Well done RTP crew!  Imagery, connection, passion and challenge all rolled up nicely!) 

I’m going to let those words roll around in my brain a bit….a great reminder, and a help to quell some of the nervousness that I am trying to accept (reminder to self: I’ve done all I can to be prepared for next week.  Just trust the process).  So much more I’d love to post and share but for now, need to pack and repack my backpack yet again and triple check the lists.  Looking forward to meeting some extraordinary people in Finland next week – hoping that everyone is feeling strong and chock full of bright anticipation.

Comments: Total (3) comments

Jennifer Holmes-Cole

Posted On: 09 Aug 2022 04:33 am

You are a BADASS. This is awesome!

Danuta Gross

Posted On: 08 Aug 2022 03:47 pm

Welcom you are at stating line Ris.

Danuta Gross

Posted On: 08 Aug 2022 03:47 pm

Welcom you are at stating line Ris.
Iris Derke
30 Day countdown and a "Hei" (in Finnish)!

12 July 2022 03:07 pm (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time(US & Canada)

You had me at Northern Lights! 

Since first surviving, and then enjoying RTP Roving Patagonia (2017) and Atacama (2018) my bucket list has included a 3rd RTP with an eye on Antarctica….and then life, and business, and pandemic just kept moving that wish farther and farther down the runway.  But, one read of NORTHERN LIGHTS in Finland and I knew that this was at least a “possible”, and as we all know, unless you decide to embrace possible and turn it in to something more you might as well buy a lotto ticket.  So with a “register” and an add to the calendar I linked “hope” to “possible” and here we are 30 days away and I am SO glad I accomplished those steps forward. 

So much to write – and so many people to meet – and gee whiz, a hell of a lot of MILES to accomplish, but for now saying hello and getting myself up on the board.  NYC reporting in to the Lapland crew of runners, walkers, explorers, dreamers, and people who make things happen.  I can’t wait to meet up with you very soon and I hope that the last rush of training and prepping is going well.  The anticipation of such a journey is always so sweetly tinged with the sharp tips of joy, anxiousness, and excitement.  Hang on!

Comments: Total (3) comments

Steven Grives

Posted On: 01 Aug 2022 06:46 pm

I look forward to following along on this journey, Iris.

Iris Derke

Posted On: 15 Jul 2022 05:20 pm

Thank you for your comment Mary! I hope to see you in Lapland along with your amazing RTP crew.

Mary Gadams

Posted On: 13 Jul 2022 03:38 am

Hi Iris, so glad to see you back at a race. It seems that time has stood still for more than two years. Lapland will be a fantastic wilderness experience. Mary