Man in the Arena

There is probably no other place in the world where so many people test their grit—than in Alaska.

In the land known as the “last frontier” there’s a wide spectrum of personalities belonging to its residents. We have diverse skill-sets and wide ranging accomplishments. Among the most adventurous Alaskans the human persona often reflects the complexity of the surrounding landscape. Goals are sometimes as big as the land is wide. As such, failures are often huge, too.

Alaska is a theater of extremes where respect is often reserved for only those people who have failed at least a time or two. People who have succeeded in their perseverance. Merely accomplishing ones goals isn’t enough to win the admiration of the Alaskan community. The irony of success lies in a persons willingness to fail. This might seem like a paradox to most people living outside our wild state.

Here in Alaska there’s an unparalleled level of passion for “leaving everything on the field,” exposing ones heart, soul, and all of the dedication and sacrifice required to truly test the limits of human potential. 

Matt Novakovich is an Anchorage based endurance athlete who epitomizes this passion. He has enjoyed success both here in Alaska and in the lower 48. He’s a father of four young children, a husband, a business owner, and an incredible mountain athlete who knows what it’s like to win, and to fail.

Matt is The Man in the Arena, as Theodore Roosevelt referred, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Despite my own personal knowledge of Matt, I still find him to be enigmatic. He is an absolutely fierce and yet vulnerable human being. Recently, while Matt engaged in the “art of suffering” through an incredibly grueling training session, I took pictures. My goal was to capture some of his qualities that intrigue me. At the end of the day, in classic Alaska fashion, we went and shot guns.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.