The stove issue got rehashed last year, with basically the same results. More than likely I'll buy a Jetboil and hope to split it with a partner or two. A lot of the relevant performance aspects late in the race are psychological, and hot coffee and soup helps that.
On the poncho tarp, it'll be used near a fire and I don't want my raft getting burn holes.
My raft has a deck (it's a 2009). A deck should be considered mandatory for the Classic. Much warmer and safer.
I'm thinking about making a hybrid foam/inflatable PFD. If I could get at least 15 pounds of flotation with less bulk I'd be psyched.
Eugene, with your insulation question you bring up a central issue. To be brief, I believe the current array of clothing, calories, and shelter (tarp) is the right balance of safety. With good judgment and technique it should suffice under just about any circumstances. It's considerably more clothing than I took last year, because of what happened with our bad weather. We had fairly close to the worst weather which could be expected (90 minutes of wet brush, a few hours of rain and a stiff wind, a glacial river crossing, more wet brush, then rain turning to snow), and had to make a choice. To even have a chance of warming up we needed shelter and fire, and that meant we had to turn around and go back into the spruce. With more clothes we might have been able to make the 7-9 hour push over the passes and back into the trees, but it would have been committing, and we decided to not roll the dice like that. My current selection reflects a revised balance which will hopefully provide more options should the forecast turn south.
As for training, the blog post I did this past weekend reflects what I hope will be a more rigorous progression. I'm pretty lazy, and prefer to start the morning off like I am right now (coffee, 'puter) rather than going running. I hope to engage in a bit less sloth this winter. The other side is that those trips in May and June last year were really hard. After the Memorial Day traverse of the Bob I was useless for almost a week. I've long thought that most endurance athletes are too compulsive and under-rest. That Paige and I had no injuries of any kind or any particularly sore joints after (just hurt all over) was a sign of good rest and full batteries going in.