new ITI logo


March 24 2014

We have moved! Our new website:

The 2015 race will start Sunday March 1 at 2:00 PM.

November 18, 2013

We just finished a great guiding season with 106 days of guiding in Alaska and Southern Utah. It is time to start thinking and planning for the big race. The 2014 race roster has been full since May with many veterans returning as well as a great field of qualified rookie entries. Thanks to Apula Design we have a new website that went online about a month ago.

We will keep the old website live for a while before we will take it down.

We are hosting the racers downtown this year at the Westmark Hotel. They are offering a discounted rate of $85.00 + 12% bedtax and are blocking 20 rooms for us from February 15- February 22,2014. Racers please make reservation by phone 1-(800) 544-0970 or email Vicky Logan

Please make your reservations as soon as possible.

The pre race meeting will be in their conference room on Saturday February 22 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.

The bus transportation to the race start leaves from the Westmark Hotel on Sunday February 23 at 11:00 AM.

Race start is Sunday February 23 at 2:00 PM at Knik Lake in Wasilla, mile 13 Knik Goosebay Road.

Looking forward to meet the new racers and see old friends again.

Racers will be getting regular race updates in their email soon.


Kathi M.


June 28,2013

Hello All,
       I hope all of you are having a great summer. Kathi and I just finished our 3rd guided trip and first Alaska trip of the 2013 season. It was a great float on the Kokolik River in the western Brooks Range. Got to see a herd of musk ox with calves, bears and thousands of migrating caribou from the Western Arctic Caribou Herd.  We leave for Katmai tomorrow for the next trip. I am looking forward to the paddling and seeing the big coastal bears.
        I have been accused (probably rightly so) of being slack on clarifying and enforcing the race rules several times in the past. To correct this and to help keep the race real and fair for everyone I have enlisted a rules committee of long time race veterans. They have clarified the rules and will investigate and make judgments  on claims of rule violations. Take a minute to read the revised rules. I still believe most of you don't need rules and penalties just a few guidelines about the spirit of the race but time has proven to me that there are  the few who need more.
         Just the other day we spent the longest day of the year in the arctic with the sun never setting just making a circle over our head but now the days are getting shorter and before we know it will be time for our annual get together on the Iditarod Trail.               
·         Leave no trace. Do not litter on the trail.
·         GPS tracking devices, such as SPOT, are not allowed in the race.  Satellite phones and/or EPRBs are permitted.
·         GPS units for navigation are permitted.
·         All gear and clothing for the McGrath and Nome races must be carried from the start to the finish. Sending gear or clothing ahead, including but not limited to, socks, gloves, shoes, stoves, sleds, skis, tents, is not permitted.
·         You may take any route you choose as long as you sign in and sign out at the required checkpoints to McGrath.  Required checkpoints include Yentna Station, Skwentna Roadhouse, Finger Lake Lodge, Puntilla Lake Lodge, Rohn, Nikolai and McGrath. Racers continuing to Nome must call in from Ruby, Kaltag and Nome on even-numbered years, and from Shageluk, Kaltag and Nome on odd-numbered years.
·         No support crews.  Pacers, friends or family, other than another racer traveling with a racer on the trail, is prohibited.  Racers may not arrange for trail breaking by snow machine or persons outside of the race, nor may aircraft be used for communicating with racers.
·         Media crews following an individual racer must be approved by the race directors and accompanied by an Alaska Ultra Sport guide.
·         No outside assistance is permitted to transport a racer on or off the trail (no snow machine or airplane rides).
·         Respect private property, Entering property posted with “No Trespassing” signs is not permitted.  Entering locked cabins is not permitted. 
·         Drop bags are limited to ten (10) pounds for each of the drop points. Drop bags delivered by race management to Finger Lake and Rohn (Wolfkill Slough [even years for Nome racers] and Iditarod [odd years for Nome racers]).  Drop bags are for expendables only, including food, fuel, batteries, chemical handwarmers.  Extra clothing, shoes, gloves, tents and other gear are not permitted to be included in drop bags delivered by race management or forwarded by the racer to any point on the course.  Drops may only be forwarded to villages. Racers are not permitted to take support or have food or drop bags stashed or delivered to points on the course.  Racers are, however, permitted to share food. (Drop bags will not be returned to the racers).
·         Racers are not permitted to take bikes, sleds or skis into checkpoints.
·         Cyclists must start and finish with the same bike.
·         Any deviation from these race rules, the spirit or philosophy of the race, or expected rules of fair play, as determined within the sole discretion of the race director, will be treated as a rule violation.
·         Smiles, Thank-yous and tips are appreciated at all checkpoints.
4 days from start to Finger Lake CP
5 days from start to Puntilla CP
6 days from start to Rohn CP
10 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds from start to McGrath
30 days, 23 hours, 50 minutes, 50 seconds from start to Nome
Missing cut-off times at Finger Lake, Puntilla or Rohn will not result in disqualification, but the racer will be responsible for their own food and lodging.
Any racer violating any of these rules will be disqualified and will receive a DNF in the official results.
Disqualified racers will not be permitted future entry into the ITI.

March 29, 2013

Hello All,
        The 2013 race is in the record books. In the 350 mile race Jay Petervary set a new men's bike record to McGrath, Eszter Horanyi set a new women's bike record, Anne Ver Hoef  set a new women's foot record and David Johnson won the men's foot race in near record time pulling a sled that at 36 pounds weighed probably twice as much as the sled Steve Reifenstuhl pulled when he set the record in 2005. Bob Ostrom won the mens bike race to Nome. The legendary "SEVEN TIME" Nome finisher Tim Hewitt won the men's foot division going completely self supported pulling a 100 + pound sled from the start and did not go inside a building the entire length of the Trail. Ausilia Vistarini took first in the women's bike division. The women's foot division was won by Shawn McTaggart won the womens foot division and set a new female record. After looking through the archives (at least the ones that I could find) Shawn also covered the last 77 miles from White Mountain to Nome in 23 hours and 45 minutes, faster than anyone on foot in the history of the race.
         Thanks to all of you both on the Trail and at home that supported and cheered on our racers this year. Thanks to all you racers who finished in McGrath and those of you who pushed on to Nome. We hope to see all of you back next year!
                               Bill and Kathi

March 25, 2013

Hello All,
        In my last update I forgot to mention that despite traveling unsupported, pulling a 100 lb sled from the start, Tim Hewitt was 3rd overall and won the men's foot division to Nome.
        At 7:00 pm Marco Berni and Beat Jegerlehner arrived in second place in the men's foot division under the burled arch in Nome. Their time corrected for the time change was 28 days and 4 hours. Congratulations Beat and Marco on a great finish. They dealt with strong winds and sub zero temperatures on their last leg from White Mountain to Nome. Behind them is Shawn McTaggart and Klaus Schweinberger pushing to get to Nome before the 30 day cut off for an official race finish. . Just as with the 10 day time limit to McGrath there is a 23 hour 59 minute grace period for the Nome race. Anything under 11 days to McGrath or under  31 days to Nome is considered an official race finish. Shawn left Elim at 4:00 am and Klaus left at 8:30. Here's hoping the winds die down so they can enjoy the last leg of their amazing journey across Alaska. Go Shawn and Klaus!!!!!!!!
                                                                                                               Bill M

March 23,2013

Hello All,
      Had the pleasure of meeting Tim Hewitt when he arrive in Anchorage after his unprecedented seventh finish to Nome. He has established himself as a true legend of the Iditarod Trail Invitational. This year Tim carried everything he needed from Knik to Nome. No resupply and he did not enter a building start to finish. I enjoyed all the stories but none more than his story of a pack of hunting wolves waking him howling and barking all around his bivy site. Stuck in his bag with a frozen zipper he said yelling  at the critters in the dark that sounded only a few feet away seemed his only option and it worked. Were they chasing prey that just ran next to Tim's bivy or was Tim the prey they were so excited about. You would think they would know better than to try and eat anyone as tough and stringy as Tim. Guess we will never know for sure.
      Currently Beat Jegerlehner and Marco Berni have left the warm hospitality of Joanna Wassillie and her husband Jack in White Mountain this morning at 10:30 to finish the last 77 miles to Nome. Joanna and Jack are and have been through the years true trail angels to all of us who have passed through White Mountain on our way to Nome. They go above and beyond to care for our racers like they were family. Beat and Marco hope to finish sometime Sunday in Nome well under the 30 day cutoff for an official race finish.
     Shawn McTaggart left Shaktoolik yesterday after she picked up her package at the post office to head out across Norton Sound to Koyuk. Klaus Schweinberger planned to leave Shaktoolik about 6:00 PM. The 40 miles of sea ice between Shaktoolik and Koyuk can be one of the most beautiful sections on a nice day or one of the most intimidating if the wind is blowing. I have heard being on the ice during a ground blizzard referred to as like being on the inside of a ping pong ball. Having been caught in a windstorm on this section I would say that's a pretty good way to describe it. With no horizon and everything white with no contrast it is difficult to even stand without falling over from vertigo. I hope to hear about their crossing sometime later today when they arrive in Koyuk.
Bill M.

March 12, 1:14 PM

First things first. Good Luck and tailwinds to our racers still on the Trail to Nome: Bob, Tim, Sebastiano, Ausillia, Beat, Marco, Shawn and Klaus. They have had very warm wet conditions but it seems to be cooling off now so maybe the Trail will improve for them. Facebook is a great way to keep track of them on their way to Nome since folks on the Trail have been posting first hand reports.          
       Forty eight finishers in the McGrath race out of 48 starters! I expect the odds of that ever happening were about as good as winning the lottery. It is a testament to the strength and determination of this year's field of athletes. Jay Petervary set a new men's bike record and the top seven finishers broke the old record. Eszter Horanyi broke the women's bike record and Anne Ver Hoef the women's foot record. David Johnson won the men's foot division just shy of a record with a big smile and a thirty six pound sled behind him. Thank you to all of you who came and raced to McGrath and on to Nome this year and all of you folks out on the Trail, in homes, lodges, checkpoints and villages, behind computors, on machines and dog sleds who made it possible and a lot less painful. .
           If you have ever wondered what those like lodge owners Dan and Jean Gabryszak, checkers Rich Crain and Iris at Yentna, Mark and Cindy at Skwentna, Zoe at Shell Lake Lodge, Carl, Kirsten, Mandy, Tyrone and crew at Winter Lake Lodge, the Perrins at Rainy Pass Lodge, Rob and OE at Rohn, Nick, Olene and Stephanie in Nikolai and Peter and Tracy in McGrath who welcome us have to deal with------ Imagine welcoming not one but forty eight folks half of whom you don't know into your home or place of business  to eat and sleep at all hours of the day and night who haven't had sleep or a bath in who knows how long and treating them like family. And it goes on for days. First place or red lantern winner each one of you racers are part of the Iditarod Trail extended family. That Trail family goes far beyond our racers, checkpoints and volunteers. Alan Tilling received as big a cheering welcome by Iditarod Rohn volunteers as any musher when he came through after having to start the race 5 days late. A musher passing out snacks to some and hot chocolate to others was reported through the Trail grapevine. I heard stories of Nome racers helping the checkers in Iditarod in exchange for shelter and food in the spirit of a time long past some places but alive and well on the Iditarod Trail. Another racer loaned his sat-phone to a musher and helped try to catch a loose sled dog. One of the Iditarod Trail Breakers to whom the Nome racers have to thank for their trail beyond McGrath in many places saying they enjoy running in to our racers going to Nome. Iditarod comms folks retrieving racers drops sent to a village so they were available on Sunday. School teachers and principals checking on and looking after racers in the villages. When we had 3 racers overdue in Rohn and not seen by Rob Kehrer on his way out of Rohn Terry Boyle and the Iditarod Rohn Crew were immediately ready to help. OE aka Kevin Robins one of our volunteers in Rohn was in his plane and looking as soon as he got it warmed up calling us shortly saying he had spotted the racers who had taken a very scenic 25 mile in and out tour of 3 mile canyon before heading over Rainy Pass and were just running a bit late. Thats just some of the stories I have seen or heard this year and I am sure others could add many many more.
         I have watched the race evolve over the years from a couple of dozen diehard bikers with homemade and modified winter bike parts and gear (not because they couldn't afford it but because there were none to buy), a runner and a skier or two all seen by other Trail users and locals, probably rightly so, as a bit "out there". To see how we have been taken into the Iditarod Trail Community over the years gives me a lot of pleasure. It says more about the character of our racers than what place they finish. It is all of you racers being such great ambassadors on the Trail and the open hearts of all who help us out there that makes the Iditarod Trail Invitational of today possible.
        Thanks to all the Iditarod Sled Dog Race folks some of whom never make their efforts public who have been there for us through the years. To get to be part of our race and the Sled Dog Race as a checker in Rohn is something that makes me personally feel very priviledged. Remember to thank them when you can because without their race ours doesn't happen.
        Thanks to Greg Matyas  bike designer and veteran McGrath racer for holding our pre-race party at Speedway cycles home of the Fatback. Here racers reconnect with old friends and meet the new ones while eating pizza, drinking beer and talking Iditarod Trail.
        Kathi had Sharon Heiny long time race checker/supporter/ Iditartod checker and Andrea Hambach veteran 350 finisher and several others including veteran racers and folks on the Trail pitching in on her administrative team this year. Thanks to all of you for making it better for all the folks at home following friends, loved ones or their favorite racer.
         Last to mention but by no means least is the nationally recognized, crusty, sometimes jaded or brutally honest old outdoors reporter who has been stalking us since the beginning of time. Sure that someone might be interested in a story about this fringe group of winter athletes Craig Medred has traveled hundreds of miles on the Trail (part of them with me if that tells you anything about the company he keeps) and written thousands of words about our race from a perspective only possible by being there. Thanks for being there Craig.
           Thanks to everyone for helping Kathi and I be the facilitators of one of the last great races that belongs to all of you
                                                                                          Bill M.



March 9, 3:12 PM

Most updates are being posted on our face book page, it seems to be the most looked at page covering our race.

It is a public page, so everyone should be able to access it.

8 racers are heading to Nome currently. The weather has been unusually warm, wet and rainy. Despite, those 8 racers are pusing on. Tim Hewitt is leading the running division despite his heavy sled with 24 days of food supplies.

The leader of the race is Anchorage cyclist Bob Ostrom and he is making he way of the 122 miles of Yukon River to the next village of Kaltag. Iditarod is ferrying dog food down to Eagle Island from Kaltag since the bush planes were kept from flying because of bad weather. This should help and firm up this remote section of trail some more since there is no other traffic other than the Iditarod Trail breakers and mushers and runner and bikers of the two races heading to Nome.

Howard Cook and Anne Ver Hoef had finished their race in McGrath, but hace decided to fly to Unalakleet on the coast and travel the scenic 250 miles on the coast to Nome since they had sent out their drog bags on the trail to the village post offices.

Recent posts on our face book page:

Update from Tim's wife Loreen:
Tim Hewitt has also left the small community Grayling and is now heading up the 122 miles of desolate Yukon River. Most times racers face a head wind there. Currently there is a tail wind from reports we are hearing. Tim was able to get some rest in his wet gear in his parka along the trail. He is making amazing progress with a sled loaded with 100 lbs of food and fuel for 24 days. Go Tim!

This is a logistical challenge for Iditarod because of bad weather, but...
This is good news for our bikers and runners, if they are bringing in supplies by snow machine from Kaltag down to Eagle Island that means the trails get packed by additional snow machines between Kaltag and Eagle Island. Is is 60 miles of trail on the Yukon River not used by anyone other than the Iditarod sled dog race and our racers and broken out by the Iditarod Trail beakers ahead of the lead musher. article/20130308/ iditablog-mushers-fret-over-dog -food-crisis-yukon-river

Update on Ausilia & Sebastiano from the principal in Grayling: They arrived there late last night at 22:44. They had pushed their bikes a lot but were in good spirits. Thank you Michael. Ausilia and Sebastiano are departing this morning for the 120 mile long Yukon River stretch up to Kaltag which is the next possible place to make a phone call to us. This section of Yukon River is notorious for head winds, if the wind blows and the trails drift in it could take racers 4-5 days to arrive in Kaltag.

Updates from the Nome racers: Beat and Marco arrived in Shageluk last night. They are drying gear, resupplying from the packages they mailed ahead. Everyone in the villages, principals, post master has been really helpful. Marco has issues with his borrowed shoes, they stay wet, his old shoes are falling apart, but he carries them as a spare. Beat reports conditions have been very challenging, wet, they got rained on and slushy trails. This morning he says it seems the trails are frozen. Marco wants to take a longer rest in Shageluk before heading out again. Beat plans to leave this morning and make it as far as Grayling tonight.

update on Anne Ver Hoef:
Mike flew me back from McGrath to Anchorage on Monday, but looks like I may go back out on the trail. I had a back strain, so I could not continue early this week from McGrath. However, I am feeling much better (thank you, extraordinary Rolfer, Barbara Kavanaugh) and I think Cookie and I will fly out to Unalakleet and continue from there to Nome. I so wanted to see the coast and this is a way to run/walk the trail for fun. We already sent our boxes of provisions out there, so we just need to get ourselves back out on the trail. Here's to fun adventures!

Great update on Howard Cook and Anne Ver Hoef:

They plan to fly to Unalakleet and travel the section of coast from Unalakleet to Nome, about 250 miles! One of my favorite sections of trail besides the section over Rainy Pass.

Howard Cook posted to Kathi Merchant
about an hour ago via mobile

"Kathi I think that you will already know by now but I turned round and came back to Mc Grath yesterday . Very sad and miserable but today I have spoken to Anne Ver Hoef and it looks like we are going to fly up to Unalakleet next weekend and finish the last 300 miles or so to Nome . It's not perfect but it's a good compromise . Thanks for all of your hard work over the past couple of weeks . I don't envy your job , being at the sharp end with all the friends and family. "
Love Cookie xxxxx


Alan Tilling who started the race 5 days later decided to finish his ride in McGrath and not go to Nome this year. Glad you came to Alaska anyway and had a good ride to McGrath. Hope to see you again in Alaska in future years.


update from Howard Cook

It's not pleasant to watch an old guy cry so o took myself a few hours up the trail and sat on my sled in the wilderness . With just no fuel in the tank , sore feet and creaking muscles I had to admit to myself that Nome was a bridge too far . My tears were both of frustration and sadness . Frustrated that I am no longer 35 to 40 and that my age is starting to slow me down . Sad because my journey on the trail has come to an end . The trail is not just the thin White line weaving along the valleys of Alaska but it is also the sights , the sounds the people , the friendship , the sky at night , the hardship , the warm bed and the hot meal. It's the hard days which cause those brief moments of joy to shine bright like a jewel and become a memory that will never leave you .I am sad that I am not with my friends Shawn & Klaus sharing their companionship and the joint endeavour. As in life it is often better to travel happily than actually arrive and that is why I will miss the trail . 
I have now retraced my steps and arrived back in McGrath and due to fly out on Sunday.

Thursday March 7, 12:49 PM

Currently showing 32 F in McGrath. Shawn McTaggert and Klaus Schweinberger left this afternoon at 12:05 heading for Nome, the next community of Takotna is only 18 miles away. Cookie is giving it another day and plans to leave in the morning and head over to Takotna to see how his feet will hold up. Alan Tilling who started 5 days after the official race start is expected in McGrath today.

We are expecting to hear about the arrival of the first 3 bikersRobert Ostrom Ausilia Vistarini Sebastiano Favaro in Shageluk anytime soon.

You never know when the Iditarod Trail opens up it's own stash of tricks and challenges. It provided the best of conditions for our 350 mile race, with new records possible and 48 finishers! But now the Nome racers as well as mushers are facing challenging warm, slushy, wet and windy conditions on their way to Nome and race director Bill Merchant is battling 70 mph wind gusts trying to get back home from after two weeks on the trail over Rainy Pass. We wish all the racers, mushers and Bill Merchant safe travels out there!

Kathi M.

Wednesday March 6, 10:00 AM

Howard Cook (Cookie) receives the red lantern award this morning and arrives in McGrath.
Cookie's time is under the 10 day time limit.

The 2013 (350 mile) race is a wrap for us with all 48 racers that started finishing in McGrath.

This has been a great year for the Iditarod Trail Invitational race! New records, 48 finishers.

New overall record by Jay Petervary: 2 days 19 hours 16 min.( 67 hours 19 min)

New fastest women's by Eszter Horanyi in her rookie year: 3 days 16 hours 20 min.

Fastest woman on foot: Anne Ver Hoef: 6 days 12 hours 20 min.(that is about 54 miles per day)

First time under the 3 day mark: for the first 5 racers, including 3 rookies!

Another record: No scratches in the 350!

Congratulations to all of you! Bill and I both wish we could spend more time with you all and listen to your stories.

Any write-ups, blogs, race reports,newspaper articles please e-mail us a link to it!

Nome racer update:

The conditions up the trail have been soft and punchy for bikers and runners. 3 cyclist are in Iditarod. They were heading back on the trail behind the Iditarod Trail breakers. Until today there was no trail beyond the ghost town Iditarod. Temperatures have been too warm, making trails punchy and slow. Racers on foot and bikers pushing their bikes tend to get blisters, trench foot and have foot issues. We wish them well and that the temps will cool off for them.

We expect the first bikers in Shageluk (the first place that is inhabited year round since Takotna) by tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Howard Cook is evaluating his feet and will make a decision about continuing on to Nome by tomorrow.

Shawn and Klaus are planning to leave in the morning and get back on the trail.

I spoke with my husband Bill Merchant in Rohn, the last mushers are through as well and he is taking down our Wall Tent, stove and cleaning up the site. His plan is to snow machine 200 miles back to Wasilla tomorrow.

The weather forecast doesn't look good for the Alaska Range.

There is a high wind warning in effect with winds of up to 55 mph starting tomorrow through Friday.

We wish him and Terry Boyle (Iditarod checker) good luck on their journey back to town.

Kathi M.

March 5, 11:47 PM

Klaus, Shawn, and Tony have arrived in McGrath late this evening. We are waiting to hear about Howard Cook's arrival in the morning. The first Iditarod mushers have already come and gone through McGrath and this is the 9th day of the 2013 ITI.

Meanwhile 6 racers are on their way to Nome on the Southern Route, Bob, Ausilia and Sebastiano are in the ghost town of Iditarod. Once a thriving gold mining town of 10,000 a hundred years ago. Today the populations is zero and Iditarod awakens every two years during the ITI and Iditarod. The BLM has built 3 more shelter cabins along the way between Ophir and Shageluk and they are marking the trail as I write this.

map and location of shelter cabins

Beyond Iditarod there is currently no trail. Until tomorrow when the Iditarod trail breakers ( a group of longtime Iditarod volunteers on several snowmachines) come through. They are punching in a trail tomorrow which might help. Unfortunately the temperatures have been unseasonably warm in the Interior of Alaska, up in the 40's which can turn a trail into the consistency of mashed potatoes and make trails unrideable for bikers and slow for walkers as well. The best time is to travel at night when the trails might firm up a bit.

The first village they reach on the Southern Route is Shageluk
Population 139 -- The name is an Ingalik Indian name meaning “village of the dog people,” and when the Iditarod hits town, that is especially true. Adolph Hamilton, who lives here, helped race organizers find the original trail to the town of Iditarod, even though he had only been over it once, many years before with his father, as a small boy.

I have been in contact with the school principal and keep them informed about the race progress. Along the villages along the Iditarod Trail, the school is the only place to accomodate visitors.

For a fee racers have a warm place to sleep,use of kitchen,dry out their clothing, shower and use internet and phone. Those are all great things to enjoy when you are coming off a long section of trail.

Kathi M.


March 5, 12:08 PM

The last 3 racers left Nikolai mile 300 early this morning: Shawn, Tony, Cookie.

I got a sat phone call from Bob Ostrom this morning at 9:47 am. He is in Iditarod, between Ophir and Shageluk. There is no trail in yet beyond Iditarod. He is helping with the Iditarod check point there.

More news later this afternoon. We are almost ready to wrap up the 350 mile race in McGrath.

We will keep track of the Nome racers on XCtrails, here on latest new as well as our face book page.

Thank you everyone for checking in and following along this year.

Kathi M.

March 4, 12:02 AM

7 days and 10 hours into the 2013 Iditarod Trail Invitational only 5 runners have yet to arrive in McGrath. The rest finished in record time, with NO scratches this year andnew records.

On to Nome are Bob Ostrom,Ausilia Vistarini and Sebastiano Favaro from Italy.

We will continue to cover the progress on our leader board and

as well as face book updates.

Nome racers Anne Ver Hoef, Marco Berni,Tim Hewitt and his wife Loreen, Beat Jegerlehner are still in McGrath tonight.

Tim Hewitt is bivied outside since his trip is completely self supported pulling a 100 lbs sled with food and fuel for 24 days.

Still on the trail tonight on the7th day of the race are Shawn McTaggert Howard Cook and Klaus Schweinberger also planning to to to Nome, Tony Covarrubias and Steve Ansell who will finish in McGrath.

Craig Medred wrote a great article today in the Alaska Dispatch what's ahead for the sled dogs and what a super highway the Iditarod Trail has been so far for the ITI.

Sounds like it is a record year out there on the trail maybe for the mushers as well, at least to Nikolai and McGrath. Who knows what happens on the trail beyond or what the weather or wind will do to the trail.

Bill M. is still in Rohn waiting for the dog teams soon to arrive.

We leave up our Wall Tent for the mushers to use as well and Bill keeps the wood stove going and hot water ready for the mushers.

More updates in the morning.

Kathi M.

March 3 8:05 AM

Today is Sunday March 3 restart of the Iditarod sled dog race in Willow.

The ITI race is going on 7 days. 32 racers have finished in McGrath.

The last 3 that had gotten off trail are in and out of Rohn this morning Shawn Tony and Cookie.

Anchorage runner Anne Ver Hoef sets a new foot record shaving over 11 hours off the previous record: 6 days 12 hours 20 minutes. Congratulations Anne!

We will continue to update the leader board and you can follow the racers to Nome here also on XCtrails:

Anne as well as cyclists Ausilia and Sebastiano are expected to continue on to Nome sometime today.

Kathi M.

March 2 12:27 PM

Still waiting on Jim Barkeley this morning. Cyclist Aaron Fanetti finished in McGrath this morning. Well done Aaron!!

Bob Ostrom is the first racer to check out of McGrath this mornhing at 9:30 have a safe journey Bob! We might hear from him from Takotna, but then not until Shageluk mile 487.

New update from Rohn: Bill Merchant called me on our sat phone.

Klaus is there, not Cookie Shawn or Tony. Klaus had followed their tracks, but realized they were going the wrong way. There were snow machine tracks veering off the the right. Klaus realized it was the wrong direction and corrected his course. OE is warming up the plane in Rohn this morning. No worries family and fans!
They will loose time over this, but they are not in any danger. I will get a report from OE after he takes a flyover to see where they are. I also checked in with Puntilla, they are not bacj there. We are looking for them. More updates this afternoon on that.

Thanks Armin with XCT trails , map is current:

Kathi M.

March 1 11:58 PM

Currently 1 F in McGrath. Noaa forecast for the McGrath area:
Tonight: Mostly cloudy. Scattered flurries east of mcgrath. Lows zero to 8 above. Light winds.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy in the morning then clearing. Highs in the upper teens. Light winds.

Saturday Night: Mostly clear. Lows 8 below to 4 above. Northeast winds to 10 mph.

23 racers have arrived in McGrath so far. the last one was Dan Jansen this afternoon. Ausilia, Sebastiano, Joe Grant, Joe Logar and Jim Barkely are on the home stretch to McGrath. There is 20 more racers behind them on the trail across the Farewell Burn, once the largest burnt area in North America. It is the place where racers have had hallucinations during the race. It is a long desolate stretch across barren wilderness inhabited by wolves and a wild herd of buffalo. There is one place to find shelter in the Bear Creek public use shelter cabin put in place by the BLM. The BLM is the overall manager of the historic Iditarod Trail and has several of those cabins in place. In the past 3 years they have added some between Ophir and Ruby (Northern Route/even years) and Ophir and Shageluk on the Southern Route/odd year on the trail to Nome.
This year the Nome racers will follow the the Southern Route, we switch every other year just like Iditarod does. For many the Southern Route is thought to be harder, because it is only used every 2 years where the Northern Route is used every year by the Iron Dog Snowmobile race ( which starts a week before the ITI) and part of it follows and old road bed into Ruby.

Only 1 woman ever has traveled the distance on foot (officially) Janine Duplessis with her husband on their honeymoon in 2000 in 41 days 10 hours and 30 minutes. This year we have 3 very qualified with one or more 350 finishes signed up: Anne Ver Hoef, Loreen Hewitt and Shawn McTaggert. 
Tim Hewitt is walking and running to Nome self supported with a 100 lbs sled, carrying all his own food and fuel for 24 days.
The first racer to depart McGrath on his way to Nome is Bob Ostrom who arrived in McGrath about 24 hours ago. The next bikers on the trail heading for Nome are Ausilia and Sebastiano and veteran racer couple for Italy.

This year 12 racers have signed up the the 1000 mile distance. Since the inaugural year of 2000 only 36 individuals have finished the 1000 mile distance human powered. Tim Hewitt has finished it 6 times on foot. More stats and finishers are found here:

This year's ITI will go into the history books with the largest number of athletes at the starting line with 48, no scratches on day 5, it looks like all 48 will make it to McGrath and the Nome racers another 650 miles, new records, fastest finishing times overall. Record year for the racers and the ITI organizers. A big success!

Good night.

Kathi M.


March 1 10:22 AM

My internet conection is slow this morning, trying hard to get the info out there.

Our longtime McGrath host Peter Schneiderheinze is cooking up a storm this morning feeding 20 racers man cakes! Peter & Tracey we could not do this race and offer such an amazing finish line without you two!!!!!


There are no Thursday flights out of McGrath right now, so there were 19 racers at the Schneiderheinze's house this morning having breakfast. A big shout out to Peter & Tracey Schneiderheinze and all the other wonderful check point hosts hosting our racers!!!!

First phone call from Rohn this morning from Iditarod volunteer Lisa Jaeger. Most racers have arrived and departed Rohn. Only 4 left to arrive: Shawn, Tony, Klaus and Cookie.
Bill Merchant arrived back in Rohn at 3:00 AM. They had a busy night there with many racers arriving and departing. Thanks to the crew there, Rob Kehrer and OE, Lisa, Terry, Jasper!!!

Kathi M.

February 28 10:40 PM

This is a phenomenal year for the Iditarod Trail Invitational race. So far we have seen new records, no scratches and racers moving along the trail posting amazing times. It will be a year to remember.

I went to the Iditarod banquet in the Danaina Center tonight. Kay Parks did the updates and leaderboard for me. Runner David Johnston has already checked out of Nikolai and has 11.5 hours to best Steve Reifenstuhl's record of 4 days and 15 hours (2005). Can he do it? He seems very determined only stopping 43 minutes in Nikolai. He has been setting a very fast and steady pace this race. It's possible. He will find out in the morning. He needs to arrive in McGrath before 5 AM to break the fastest time on foot between Knik to McGrath.

Runner David Johnston from Willow has a chance cracking the 2005 record on foot set by Steve Reifenstuhl in 2005. He needs to arrive in McGrath before 5 am.

We might also see a new women's foot record. Anne Ver Hoef is already out of Rohn and could set a new record. The current record holder Loreen Hewitt was a little over 3 hours behind her out of Puntilla, the exact time is unknown, we know that Anne left Rohn ahead of Loreen. What and incredible year!

There was only one racer not in Puntilla at 20:25. Klaus.

Rohn is a really busy check point tonight. The check point is a 10x20 foot Wall Tent with a wood stove. Several racers are sleeping outside, there is just not enough room for so many people a the same time.

The temperatures were rather mild in Rohn today, 20 F in the daytime.

More updates in the morning.

Kathi M.



February 28 8:31 AM

Eszter Horanyi sets a new women's overall course record in the 350: 3 days 16 hours and 20 min. She shaves 6 hours off the previous record held by Louise Kobin. Eszter is an accomplished ultra racer, mountain biker, backcountry skier, but this was her first race in the Iditarod Trail Invitational. She finishes 10th overall.

3 time defending champ and Peter Basinger finished one hour and 20 minutes before her this morning.

All but one racer have checked out of the Winterlake Lodge check point and many more have arrived and departed from the halfway point at Puntilla. More racers are arriving in McGrath at the finish line this morning. The next ones are Eric Warkentin and Jay Cable how have been travelling together.

Kathi M.

Another great article by Craig Medred in the Alaska Dispatch this morning:

about Canadian racer and oldest in this year's race Lindsay Gauld who had a brush with terrible frostbite in last year's race.


Feb. 27 8:43 PM

7 finishers have arrived in McGrath. All 7 of them shattering the previous record set by Pete Basinger in 2007. We are still waiting on defending champ Pete B. to arrive tonight. Rookie Eszter Horanyi is also on course shaving off several hours off Louise Kobin's record set in 2011.

In the running division David Johnston is setting a blistering fast pace and far ahead of his closest competitors Joe Grant and John Logar and Eric Johnson.

6 time Nome finisher Tim Hewitt with his massive sled packed with food and fuel for 24 days is keeping pace with "regular racers".

A strong women's runner field including Loreen Hewiit, Anne Ver Hoef and Shawn McTaggert are steadily moving up the trail towards the halfway point in Puntilla at Rainy Pass Lodge. Anne checked into Puntilla at 15:20

While I was writing this Anchorage cyclist Brian Hartman has also finished in McGrath in 8th place.

Cyclists Ausilia and Sebastiano and Joe Grant and John Logar are expected in Rohn tonight.

Exciting day for the racers, fans us, everyone, record setting year.

Mild temperatures, little wind and good trails with a stacked field made it possible this year for all these racers.

Another record so far, no scratches 3 days and 7 hours into the race.

Will write another update in the morning.

Kathi M.

Feb. 27 10:50 AM

New champion Jay Petervary from Idaho!

2 days 19 hours 16 min.

New blazing fast course record in the 350!

Second place Alaskan Tim Berntson 2 days 19 hours 50 minutes. Third place a tie from Fairbanks boys Jeff Oately and Kevin Breitenbach. 5th place rookie Anchorage racer John Lackey. All five finishers times so far are 9 and 10 hours faster than the previous record held by Peter Basinger (2007). For the first time in race history the course records have gone under the 3 day mark. What an amazing field of athletes out there.

Eszter Horanyi on record setting pace too in her rookie year on the trail. David Johnston from Willow expected in Rohn this morning leading the running division. Anne Ver Hoef from Anchorage leading female runner at the moment out of Winterlake Lodge. No scratches so far. Zoe at Shell Lake reported everyone is through Shell Lake this morning, last racers on the trail Shawn McTaggert, Tony Covarrubias and Klaus Schweinberger.

More news later this afternoon.

Kathi M.

Feb. 27 8:06 AM

News from Stephanie in Nikolai:
Tim Berntson, Kevin Breitenbach and John Lackey left at 3:45 and Jeff at 3:50 this morning..and

Phil Hofsetter arrives at 7:00 this morning.

Kathi M

Feb. 27 1:20

Jay Petervary left Nikolai at 1:24. Will he be the new champ? New overall course record for Jay P.?? The 4 chasers Jeff O, Kevin, John Lackey and Tim B. were taking a nap in Nikolai.

Kathi M.

Feb. 27 00:57

Wow, Jeff O. Jay P. Kevin B. and John L, into Nikolai at 00:50 2/27 not sure who the 5th racer is in the group.

Kathi M.

February 26 11:51 PM

Suspense. Everyone is waiting to hear from the Nikolai check point. Who is the leader? Will there be a new record? Bill always said:" A rookie will never win this race." Well... it is possible this year. New recors in the men's and women's division are up for grabs. Everyone is glued to the computer screens tonight waiting to get news from Nikolai. Stephamie Petruska has food ready for them and is waiting for their arrival.

Bill Merchant, trail breaker headed over to McGrath this afternoon by snowmachine. He is inMcGrath tonight.

The trail to Nikolai was rough, but he covered Nikolai to McGrath in 2,5 hours, 50 miles.

It is getting really late tonight, and the leaders have been pushing on without any sleep, so we might have to wait until morning to get some updates.

No scratches so far, all racers are moving up the trail steadily!

Kathi M.

Kathi M.

Feb. 26 4:23 PM

8 bikers are out of Rohn on their way to Nikolai this afternoon. Defending champ Pete Basinger has made up time on them. Women in the lead Eszter Horanyi was not in Rohn when I spoke with Rohn checker Rob Kehrer earlier in the day. Bill Merchant went ahead of them by snowmachine to make sure there was a trail where the trail has potential to get drifted in when the wind blows. Our Nikolai checker Stephanie Petruska is currently waiting for Bill M and the first bikers. They could be there as soon as 8 or 9 tonight.

By tomorrow we will have a new champion in McGrath.

4 more bikers hace checked out of Puntilla. We are waiting to hear word about the leading runner Dave Johnston who left Winterlake at 7:40 this morning.

Racers are also moving up the trail from Skwentna mile 90 to Winterlake Lodge mile 130.

The last three racers were seen 13 miles below the Skwentna Roadhouse on the Yentna River this afternoon.

No scratches so far.

Leader board is updated.

More news this evening.

Kathi M.

February 26, 10:00 AM

Bill just called from Rohn on the Sat Phone: Oately, Breitenbach, Berntson and Lackey are in ROHN at 9:30. Took them just over 8 hours over the pass!!! Trail must be hard packed and fast this year!

We have news from Puntilla halfway point mile 165: in the lead are 4 Jeff O. John Lackey, Kevin B, and Tim Berntson out of Puntilla at 1:19 AM followed by Jay P at 1:48 , Jason Buffinton out at 4:10 and our fast woman Eszter out at 6:50 am this morning. What a race!

David Johnston leading the running field out to Winterlake this morning at 7:40 AM. Fast pace on foot!!

Kathi M.

February 25, 10:39 PM

All racers have made it to Yentna Station. A charge of veteran and rookie bikers is chasing rookie Jason Buffington into the foothills into the Alaska Range up to Puntilla Lake, the location of the oldest hunting lodge in Alaska, Rainy Pass Lodge has the 75th anniversary this year. Fast first woman and keeping up with the boys is rookie Eszter Horanyi from Colorado. She spent her training in the mountains of Colorado. There are many hills between Winter Lake Lodge and Puntilla, then more climbing follows over Rainy Pass at an elevation of 3300 feet.

Bill Merchant race organizer and checker and Rohn checker Rob Kehrer are getting a good sleep tonight getting ready for the first bikers tomorrow.

Bill Merchant will leave Rohn early in the morning to break trail ahead of the leaders into Nikolai.

More bikers have arrived at Winterlake Lodge nestled at the edges of Fingerlake in the foothills of the Alaska Range.

Willow resident David Johnston is charging ahead and leads the running division. He is a veteran of the race and finished the race last year with his wife Andrea. A bit over 2 hours behind him is race veteran from Utah Eric Johnson.

Legendary 6 time finisher Tim Hewitt pulling his 110 lbs sled going self supported checked into Yentna Station at 11:20 this morning.

The race leaders arrived at Winterlake Lodge early this afternoon with Jay Petervary from Idaho in the lead. A pack of 5 bikers chasing him with race veteran Jeff Oatley and Kevin Breitenbach from Fairbanks, Alaskans Tim Berntson and John Lackey only 20 minutes behind Jay, followed by Jason Buffington from Minnesota,a rookie racer with wins in the Arrowhead 135 and Tuscobia 150. What a race we have!

Jason Buffington sneaks out the Winterlake Lodge check point and takes the lead ahead at 15:55 followed 5 minutes later by Jay P, Jeff O,Kevin B,and John Lackey and Tim Berntson. What a race!!Rookie Eszter Horanyi from Colorado is staying with the boys and arrives at Winterlake Lodge at 16:25 as well as Nome resident Phil Hofstetter at 15:30 and Alaskan Brian Hartman at 17:07.

Hoping to have more news from down the trail to see where the running leaders are.


February 25, 10:48 AM

The leaders are reported at Shell Lake Lodge, 110 miles into the race: Tim Berntson leading the charge closely followed by Jeff O, Jay P. and Kevin B. Not sure why defending champ Peter Basinger is further behind at this point. This is second hand information through face book. The bikers started and arriving and departing early this morning at the Skwentna Roadhouse, our second check point 90 miles into the race.

The first runner into the Yentna Station check point was David Johnston from Willow at 5:05. He departed at 7:40 followed Eric Johnson from Utah 8:32.

We have got quite the race in the biking and running division so far.

The weather is clear here this morning in Anchorage with 18 degrees, clear in Skwentna and snow was falling at Winter Lake Lodge the third check point, mile 130.

Bill M. and Rob Kehrer are ready in Rohn with the Wall Tent up, fire wood cut and split to keep the wood stove going. They are ready there for the racers too. They are taking another trip with two snowmachines up towards the pass back down the trails to get it packed some more for the racers.

More later, as I hear reports from the trail.

Kathi M.


February 25, 7:39 AM

Update early this morning I received by e-mail from Peggy Garoutte, longtime host of human powered events on the Iditarod Trail from their cabin:

Good Morning, from Flat Horn,(mile30)
Busy nite on the lake, Rich and friend stopped by around 4, then Craig Medred was here around 7 and did some computer time and left around 9. Headlights on the trail steady, plenty of hot water at bottom of our hill. Biker Leslie came by to change and get some water and tea, stayed for 15 min. then headed back on the trail. Nice full moon before I went to bed at 10:30. I woke up this morning at 2:30, stayed up to read a book, then later I saw headlight out by cabin, It was Ann, she stayed with 2 others on foot at the cabin since 11:00p,m. So she came in and gave her a hug with some hot water, and a cup of Russian Tea. She left here around 3:30 am. I went over to the cabin and cranked up the wood stove the other 2 guys are camped out on the couch and floor. I put their sneakers by the wood stove and left them sleep. No other headlights on the lake at this hour(4:45 am.). 
Check in with you later..Peggy:))

Thanks Peggy & Kirk. A big Thank you!!

February 24, 23:35 PM

First updates from Yentna Station 60 miles from the start are in: Jay Petervary, Jeff Oatley, Tim Berntson, John Lackey into Yentna Station at 22:50 out of Yentna Station 23:00. Also into Yentna Station shortly after Phil Hofstetter, Brian Hartman and Jason Buffington also at Yentna Station, our 1st check point on the Yentna River, 60 miles from the start. The trail report coming from the Yentna checkers:

Trail news from the checkers at Yentna Station- trail is fairly hard and lead bikers are moving fast. Only place they had to get off and do some pushing was across Flathorn Lake. More news and updates in the morning.

Kathi M.

February 24, 2013 8:30 PM

News by 8 PM Alaska Time from Alaska Dispatch reporter Craig Medred from the trail

And the racers are off! 49 racers left the starting line at 2:00PM this afternoon under cloudy skies and temps in the 20's. Kirk Garoutte reported snow falling out at Flathorn Lake, 30 miles from the start. Kirk and Peggy are out there to offer support to our racers this year. They have been supporting human powered races on the Iditarod Trail since its beginnings in the mid 80's. Thank you Kirk and Peggy for your support!!

They will have food, water and a lantern down on the lake. Some of the walkers might spend the night there at Flathorn Lake. I will also get updates from them later this evening even though they are not an official check point.

Please check into our face book page it is is a public site and available to anyone, even folks that are not face book users. The face book page will be updated more frequently than our latest news page.


Depending how things go out there for the racers and how much I hear from the Yentna Station check point, I will post another update later tonight.

Kathi M.



February 23, 2013

Bill is out on the trail and has made it over the pass with his trail crew. Much work to be done there, moving tent, stove and drob bags from the end of the air strip in to Rohn, setting up camp, moving all the dog food as well, since we are first into Rohn. Then go back up the Dalzell Gorge to build ice bridges and make the trail safer. Ice bridges are built cutting brush and branches, then add snow, ad water, repeat and so on until there is a level path across the Creek. The Dalzell Creek will be crossed by our racers (and mushers a week later) several times before they get onto the Tatina River and on into the Rohn check point.

Today at 2:00pm I will hold the pre race meeting at the Golden Lion Best Western Hotel. It is mandatory for racers. Information about trail conditions, check points and a trail report is passed on the the racers.

A large bus transports the 48 racers to the starting line about 70 miles from Anchrorage at Knik Lake. Start is at 2:00 PM tomorrow Sunday.

The first updates will start coming in in the evening and will be posted on the leader board and face book.

Once a day I will have an update here our our" latest news".

Also out on the trail will be Craig Medred with the Alaska Dispatch, an online publication. I am looking forward to read his trail stories. He often writes an article every other day from the trail.


I wish all racers a great race experience & safe journey and all of our fans, friends & family an enjoyable time following along via website, leader board and our face book page.

Kathi Merchant
race organizer/HQ


February 19, 2013

Bill last update before he heads out on the trail Thursday morning.

Hello All,
     The Alaskan weather has cooperated once again and let Barry and I get the drops, food  and the Rohn camp out on the Trail. It was blowing pretty hard at Finger Lake and bouncing us around a bit but it was just another day at the office for Barry. Puntilla was sunshine and a light wind. The trip over the range was smooth and Rohn was calm, sunny and -6 F. The river wide overflow that was reported Saturday on the Tatina has refrozen for the time being. Snow came late this year to the Alaska range but with all the recent storms there seems to be a good snowpack.
      I always breathe easier when we get the drops in place. My next big goal is getting the Trail in over the Pass. Terry Boyle, Rob Kehrer and I leave thursday morning and will spend the night in Puntilla if all goes well. The past 3 years it has taken us 2 days to break trail and put in ice bridges from Puntilla to Rohn with a bivy somewhere in the middle. We usually get in around dark and Jasper Bond (The Mayor of Rohn) greats us with a hot meal.
      I hope all of you get to attend the Pre Race Party at Speedway Cycles at 6:00 pm on Friday.
        The mandatory pre race meeting will be 2-4 pm at the Golden Lion Hotel in the lounge.
     Thanks to all of you for joining us for the 12th annual Iditarod Trail Invitational. I will see you soon on the Trail.


February 18, 2013

The race starts this coming Sunday Feb. 24th at 2:00PM at Knik Lake. The first updates on the Leader Board should be coming in that night from our first check point Yentna Station, 60 miles into the race. Face book will have more frequent updates, our FB page is public, for everyone to see and post and like. We also have a message board for family and race fans to post messages for thr racers. They can see those at some of the check points, for sure when they get to the McGrath finish line and on their way to Nome, they will have acces to Internet in most schools in the villages along the way.

We went to Willow today, Bill to fly drop bags, food and our wall tent for Rohn with Barry Stanley-Denali Air Service. I met with Sharon and Andrea who will update our leader board during the race. They both have experience with the race, Andrea as a racer and Sharon as caretaker/checker in Puntilla. Some of you might know them. I will be in Anchorage before the race for the pre race party at Speedway on Friday evening and the pre race meeting on Saturday and at the start at Knik Lake on Sunday.

Looking forward to the race and people checking in.



February 12, 2013

Hello All,
     Some of you have already heard but Nick Petruska who along with his wife Olene and Grand daughter Stephanie have done a great job as our checkers in Nikolai for the past 16 years is in the hospital after having a stroke. Stephanie had surgery the day after Nick was admitted. Stephanie says she will be ready to take care of racers but Nick is looking at a long recovery. All our best wishes to the Petruskas.  
      I spent Saturday cheering on racers at the TRIO fat tired race in Talkeetna while Kathi raced. Congratulations To Greg, Tony and the entire TRIO crew for a race well done. The fastest time was under 2 hours for the 20 mile loop and the slowest was over 9 hours. For some a quick 20 miles on snow for others a full on epic adventure. Out on the course disguised as a grumpy old guy in a fur hat sitting on a snowmachine I cheered folks on reminding them what a nice day it was for taking their bike for a walk on a very scenic trail. For those who looked to need extra encouragement I reminded them there was beer at the finish line.
       Word from the Trail is: John Runkle from Nikolai is working cutting brush from Nikolai back to the Bear Creek cabin. He reported that there is 2 feet of snow at the Bear Creek turn off and there are a lot of big drifts (the kind that tip over snow machines) on the Trail across the Burn. For those of you who don't remember before the permits were cut John ran a Bison hunting camp half way from Rohn to Nikolai and he and his family hosted an unofficial check point where racers and other Trail travelers were always welcome. It was just past where the snarling wolf was standing by the Trail one year. Several racers including me saw that wolf so he had to be real. Thanks John and Marty for all your hard work now and in the past.
       Kathi has been contacting schools for the Nome racers and will be mailing out your contacts soon.
       Peace on Earth Pizza in Unalakleet is looking forward to feeding hungry racers again when they reach the coast and will be open "nearly" 24 hours a day during Iditarod.
      I pick up the drops for Finger Lake, Rohn and Iditarod at the B&B on Saturday by 12:00 noon. Weather permitting we fly the drops on Sunday. I'll post more on Trail conditions when I get back.
                                                                                            See you Soon


January 28, 2013

Hello All,

       Winter has finally returned to Alaska. Just in time for our 5 day winter bike camp on the Iditarod Trail. We had 9 great guys from 6 different countries for this year's camp. Trail conditions were everything from hike-a-bike to fast and flowy enough to bring out whoops and giggles. The only thing missing was the -35 F we had last year for their last night's remote bivy on the Dismal Swamp. Some rode all the way to Yentna for a burger and the trail up the Susitna and Yentna rivers are good with a bit of not quite knee deep overflow. Been reports of a lot of overflow everywhere this year.
       Pen Air is again giving us a discount on flights back from McGrath. Regular walk up fare is $251.00. Our rate is $189.00 and bikes and sleds fly free. Thanks Missy Anderson and Pen Air for all your support. They are currently flying Monday, Wednesdays, Friday and Saturday. The told us they may add a Tuesday flight to that. We will keep you informed.
        Drop bags are due by noon Saturday, February 16th at Alaskan European B&B
                                                                                             3107 Cottonwood st.
                                                                                             Anchorage, Alaska 99508
         Racers planning to stay at the B&B should contact Irene: 

         Greg Matyas will be hosting a pre race party again this year at Speedway Cycles on Friday evening Feb. 22nd.  All racers are welcome. Its a great place to meet the other racers and check out the latest Fatback frames and accessories.Thanks Greg for your support of the race for the past several years
        The mandatory pre race meeting will be Saturday, Feb. 23 from 2-4 pm at the Golden Lion Hotel lounge.
        The bus to Knik will leave the Golden Lion at 11:00 am on Sunday, Feb 24.

        The Golden Lion Hotel will give racers a 10% discount ($89.00 + 12% tax) if you reserve by phone 

(907) 561-1522 and tell them you are an Alaska Ultra Sport racer.
        I always try to ignore the old aches and pains that magically reappear this time of year. I have found the only cure is to get back out on the Trail. They disappear when the Trail gets really fun and all I have time to think about is how to keep all this fun from killing me.
       I hope training goes well for all and I look forward to seeing all of you on the Trail

November 30, 2012

Hello All,
       Our very busy summer / fall guiding season is finally finished and our thoughts are fully occupied with the winter season and the race. We have a very strong field of both runners and cyclists. Our field of rookies is probably the strongest ever with most having multiple finishes in the Arrowhead 135, White Mountain and or Susitna 100.
        As we have done the past three years Rob Kehrer ( our Rohn checker) and  I will head out on thursday before race start to hopefully give us time to get the Pass broken out, all the ice bridges put in the Gorge and the Rohn checkpoint set up before the lead racers arrive. I will then break trail ahead of the leaders to McGrath turn around and ride back. After a scolding last year for the grooves left by my sled I have a new Cross Fox Trapper sled ordered that will leave a buff trail at least until it snows or the wind blows.
       I miss getting to attend the pre race meeting and party to see old friends and meet the new racers but I get to see most everyone who finishes somewhere along the Trail. No place better to get to know someone than the middle of the Farewell Burn at midnight at -40.
       I have been in contact with all our checkpoints and it has been cold helping to freeze up all the rivers and lakes but not much snow anywhere. Hopefully it doesn't wait until race start and dump like last year but especially all you new racers might want to look at last years split times before you decide which pieces of your gear and snacks you want to take or leave. Ask yourself if a stretch that normally takes 8 or 9 hours takes 2 days do I have what I need. A lot of folks were caught by surprise last year but big storms can and have hit almost every section of the Trail in the past so just be prepared.
       As we get closer to race time I will update you with trail reports, due dates for drops and other race info. Until then I hope everyone stays healthy and training goes well.
                                                                                                    All the Best
                                                                                                 Bill and Kathi 

October 21, 2012

It is finally fall in the western hemisphere and we are still mountain biking on dirt here in the Southwest desert finishing up with our last guided trip of the summer/fall 2012season. Alaska has seen the first snow flakes and the tundra, rivers and lakes are slowly freezing up. I start thinking about winter and the race and soon will be focusing on making all the arrangements for the trail and check points along the way. Bill and I will be back in Alaska for our only winter training camp this winter season from January 21-25, 2013 and we have 5 folks signed up from 5 different countries so far. It looks to be an interesting one. We are really looking forward to it.

Anyone interested to join us, we have one spot left.

There are several winter races taking place before the ITI.

These are qualifiers for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 mile race.

The Tuscobia Ultra in Wisconsin will be Dec. 28-30.

The winner of the 150 mile race will receive an entry into the 2014 ITI 350 mile race.

Next up will be the Arrowhead 135 in Minnesota on Monday January 28, 2013.

Their race roster is filled as well!

First runner and first biker receive an entry into the 2014 ITI.

Unfortunately the Susitna 100 was cancelled this year, but will return in 2014.

Alex Casavovas( a finisher of the 350 mile ITI by bike) is offering the Rovaniemi 150 K for the second year in Finland.

Currently it is the only qualifier we accept in Europe at this point.

The White Mountains 100 near Fairbanks Alaska takes place on Sunday March 24, 2013.

All 65 spots have been filled already and many including me ( Kathi) are on the waiting list.

I was hoping to do this one after we finish up with our race on the Iditarod Trail.

I hope everyone is having a great fall season and training for the ITI or other winter races.

Happy Halloween and happy trails!


August 8, 2012

Summer has been busy for us guiding wilderness trips all over the state. The fire weed is blooming which is a sign that summer is almost over in Alaska. As soon as we wrap up our summer season here Bill and I will head to Utah to guide mountain bike trips in the desert. By fall the first snow flakes will fall in Alaska and we will focus on the 2013 race. The race roster has been full since April with a long waiting list for racers that did not get a spot. We sill have spaces available for our 2013 winter training camp 5 days from January 21-25. Contact us if anyone is interested.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!!

Kathi M.

April 29, 2012

The 2013 race roster is online now. We have a great field of very qualified racers for the 2013 event signed up. The 2013 race is FULL! A wait list will be kept. We hope to make more changes to our website this summer including a new banner image and race map as well. Hope everyone has a great summer and many fun races and events. Looking forward to next year's winter racing season. Check back for news and updates on our face book page.

Kathi Merchant

April 16, 2012

We are receiving entries in the mail daily as well as many e-mails about the 2013 race. We are still reviewing all the applications and waiting for more to show up in the mail. April 8 we opened entries to rookies.

After finalizing the 2013 roster with the accepted entries for the 2013 event we will publish the 2013 race roster. A waiting list will be kept after that. This year quite a few people received an entry later in the year from cancellations.

The start date for the 2013 event is Sunday, February 24, at 2:00 PM.

We will also offer a winter training camp again in 2013 from January 21-25 for new interested racers without previous winter experience or a finish in any of the qualifier events such as Susitna 100, Arrowhead 135 or White Mountains 100.

Hope to hear from you all and looking forward to the 2013 event.

In the meantime there will be updates on face book throughout the summer and fall.

Kathi Merchant

March 28, 2012

Hello All,

Our email has been busy with mails from veterans and new racers expressing interest in the 2013 race. Just a heads up that entries will open for veterans on April 1st. The remaining starting places will open for rookies on April 8th. First time racers should contact us before the 8th for pre-approval to have the best chance for a spot at the starting line.
Kathi and I are heading to Utah for our spring mountain bike guiding season next week. Our Alaska winter/ spring has been beautiful if a bit epic with all the snow but now its warming up and soon all the snow will be replaced with water and mud. I am looking forward to riding on dirt and rock for a while before we return for our summer season.
Good luck in the coming year and I look forward to seeing you next year for another adventure on the Iditarod Trail.

Bill M's race recap posted March 9 9:11 PM

  Peter Basinger wins the 350 mile McGrath race for the unprecedented 6th time. Congratulations Pete! I expect that qualifies you for the Iditarod Trail Hall of Fame. To win the mens foot division Geoff Rose edged out former race winner and 6 time Nome finisher Tim Hewitt right at the finish. Ausila Vistarini won the womens bike division and Anna Ver Hoef won the womens overall.  Anne became our first foot person to win the overall women's race to McGrath. Geoff and Tim gave the bikers Pete, Phil and Pavel a run for their money all the way to Rohn and were still hot on their heels by Nikolai. We had 18 racers who pushed on through conditions that had local freight haulers on snowmachines turning back to Skwentna because of blizzard conditions and deep snow. They pushed on through soft conditions nearly the entire way to finish in McGrath. Some even managed while battling the Rohn Plague. Congratulations to you all!
     Thank you to the people who made this year's race happen. From the pre race party at Speedway Cycles hosted by Fatback designer Greg Matyas to the Finish Line at Peter and Tracy Scneiderheinze's home and everyplace in between. When a need arose someone stepped up to help. Thanks to the racers and all the great folks at the checkpoints, trail volunteers, trailbreakers and supporters of the race in Anchorage, the Valley and in the communities on the Trail. Former racers and some who scratched jumped in to help with internet coverage, pictures, stories and attempting to explain to fans outside the circles the complexities of reporting and communications on the Trail. By being great ambassadors all of you racers former and present have helped develop a supportive Iditarod Trail Invitational community on the trail which respects our efforts that includes not only community members but Iditarod volunteers, mushers and even the Iditarod trail breakers. They told me they were a bit sad not to see any of us on the Nome Trail this year. John Baker last years Iditarod winner told me in Rohn he was going to get a snow bike to train off season on the beaches of Kotzebue. Only veterans of the early races understand what a huge change this is from the early years but we have come a long way. Thanks to all of you who made that happen. 
        I will finish this with a quote from Ausilia Vistarini said after she arrived in McGrath with a smile and a sparkle in her eyes, " Last year was a vacation. This year it was REAL Alaska!
       I hope to see you all back again next year to see what the Trail has in store for us.

Bill Merchant
Iditarod Trail Invitational 
trail manager/wilderness guide 


March 9, 2012

After snowmachining out from Rohn 200 miles Bill M. made it back to Wasilla early Thursday morning 2:00 AM. After some of the Iditarod volunteers in Rohn got sick with stomach issues that started in Rohn he decided to help Iditarod with the mushers out and hosted them in our Wall Tent that was still up after our last racer had come through. After spending a short night in a motel room in Wasilla we picked up our tent camp in Willow which was flown out that day by Barry Stanley with Denali Flying Service and then picked up the trailer with 2 snowmachines at the Point Mac store. We finally made it back home to Chickaloon together where we had 10 inches of new snow on our 200 yard long driveway and a cold cabin.

Today was a day to recover and take it easy for both of us. I want through some more pictures on my camera I took in McGrath and read the articles by Craig Medred in the Alaska Dispatch (in total 9 articles). Thanks Craig for being on the trail.

Thank you to all our volunteers and checkers, check points and everyone helping out for the start until the last day of the race to make it all happen.

Thank you everyone helping with the race this year!

Bill M. will post another race recap on his end in the next couple of days.

Kathi M.

Alaska Dispatch articles:


Fairbanks News Miner:

Capitol City Weekly:

Huffington Post by Kirsten Dixon:



March 7 2012 6:30 AM

Dave Kelley arrives in McGrath at 3:45 am. He received the red lantern award this year! He was in great spirits when he arrived and was very hungry. He had pushed his bike most of last night and was mistaken for a musher in McGrath. He said it was very funny when fans realized that he was a biker! Congrats Dave!! 
He has been dealing with a stomach bug that was going around Rohn that also Dave J. and some other racers must have caught in Rohn! Great job Dave hanging in there like this!!
No racers continuing on to Nome this year! It has been a tough year for racers! I am flying out to Anchorage this morning myself. This year's race is finished! More detailed follow up and race report will follow soon.

Kathi M. from McGrath

March 6, 2012 10:19 PM

Leader board has some updates! Shawn McTaggart arrives in McGrath this evening at 9:45pm. Congratulations Shawn at 9 days, 7 hrs and 45 minutes! Only one more racer in the pack, expecting Dave Kelley here before midnight.

Billy Koitzsch has arrived in McGrath! Time will be set at 7:15pm. He has suffered frostbite on his left foot and arrangements are being made to get him treatment tonight at the clinic. Otherwise he is healthy and his usual effervescent self. He says he saw both Shawn and Dave on the trail outside of McGrath. More updates to follow. We are minutes from the first mushers arriving into McGrath and will try to hear from them if when and where they saw our last two racers. Robin in McGrath.

March 6, 2012 5:00PM

Cyclist Ausilia Vistarini and Sebastiano Favaro just arrived in McGrath at 1:19PM. Congratulations! They said they passed Dave Kelley and that he had taken a nap on the trail. Ausilia is the only female cyclist to finish the race this year. Way to go Ausilia! And she did it with a single speed bike. Very impressive. We are still waiting here in McGrath for Dave Kelley, Billy Koitzsch and Shawn McTaggert. They are all expected here before midnight tonight.

The first dog musher is expected in McGrath tonight around 8:00PM.

Kathi in McGrath

March 6 2012 7:12 AM

Italian runners Cesare Ornati and Roberto Gazzoli finish in McGrath early this AM as well as Rick Freeman. Congratulations to everyone that made it to McGrath in such a tough year. Rick said there was a new foot of snow on the trail last night. This year was the hardest ITI he has done with 4 snow storms pounding them along the way! He came in on the river since the Iditarod Trail breakers have made it here in front of the dog teams. It is 7:10 AM here at Peter's Schneiderheinze's house and racers are chatting about the trail and eating Peter's mancakes. Several are flying out this morning on a Pen Air flight back to Anchorage.

Kathi M. in McGrath

March 5, 2012 11:00PM

Anne Ver Hoef and Beat Jegerlehner arrived this afternoon at the finish line of the 350 mile race in McGrath. Congratulations to both of you! Anne wins the women's division and they finish in 6th place overall. So far 8 racers have arrived in McGrath. Most of the day it was snowing here and there are 6-8 inches of fluffy snow on the ground. Temperature has risen up to 0F. Tomorrow 30 degrees are predicted.

We are waiting on two Italians runners tonight Cesare and Roberto who might have bivvied along the way.

Our Nome field is dwindeling and so far none of the competitors that have arrived in McGrath are continuing on.

This year has presented itself as a very tough year with the highest drop out rate anyone remembers.

9 more racers are on the trail or were resting in Nikolai. Shawn had not left of this evening and Billy was planning to continue at midnight.

Two more racers had scratched this morning Frank Janssens and Walter Hoesch. They flew back to Anchorage on a flight that was unexpectedk but had to land in Nikolai. So they were able to get out and back to Anchorage today.


I will post more updates tomorrow.

Kathi M. from McGrath


March 5, 2012 10:49 AM

More news from the trail this morning. Roberto, Cesare, Anne and Beat, Andrea and David all runners left Nikolai this AM. Unfortunately we have more scratches in Nikolai. Walter Hoesch decided to stop here because of numbness in his toes. Frank Janssens came back to Nikolai because of stomach issues. More racers arrived early this morning:Billy, Dave K. Ausilia, and Sebastiano. Stephanie at our checkpoint in Nikolai told me they were waiting on Shawn. She is currently the last racer on the trail.

Here in McGrath it has started snowing this morning. With the clouds and snow the tempetatures are warming up.

At the McGrath checkpoint we are expecting the first woman this afternoon Anchorage runner Anne Ver Hoef who left the Nikoolai checkpoint with Beat Jegerlehner at 1:10 AM.

We expect them this afternoon.

Meanwhile McGrath has turned from a quiet town to a busy town with Iditarod volunteers and Iditarod fans coming in.

The dog teams are in Rainy Pass Lodge and expected in Rohn today.

Kathi from McGrath

March 4, 2012 8:16 PM

Well known ultra runner from Juneau, Alaska Geoff Roes wins the foot division this afternoon in 6 days 23 hours and 25 minutes. Congratulations Geoff!! He managed to pass up Tim Hewitt who had left Nikolai ahead of him. Tim arrived nearly four hours behind Geoff even though he had left the Nikolai checkpoint 4 hours ahead of Geoff. 6 racers have arrived in McGrath so far including italian biker Dario Valsesia.

As of 8:24 PM there were four runners resting in Nikolai.

Walter Hoesch was seen at the Bear Creek Cabin this afternoon as well as Shawn McTaggert. Andrea Hambach and David Johnston were were not too far from Nikolai. The last four bikers Ausilia Sebastiano, Billy Koitzsch last Dave Kelley were seen from the air near Farewell Lakes this afternoon.

The busiest checkpoint tonight will be Nikolai with several more racers arriving tonight and some departing. Temperatures could plummet again tonight since there are clear skies again. Stay warm out there racers!

Kathi M. from HQ in McGrath

I am heading over to our finish checkpoint. I can't connect my my laptop there to publish on the website. It has the software on it.

So only the leader board and face book will be updated until later this eveing. I can use any computer for that.

Kathi M. in McGrath

March 4, 2012 11:00 AM

Cyclist Pete Basinger wins the race in 6 days and 15 hours arriving at the McGrath checkpoint at 5:00 AM this morning. Nome cyclist Phil Hofstetter and Pavel Richtr from Czech Republic tied for second place at 8:08 AM. Congratulations to all of you!!

Temps had dropped to -30 below tonight and they are all pretty frosty faced. They were hungry and ready for a shower and sleep.

Front runners foot division:

Tim left Nikolai at night as well 4 hours and 15 min ahead of Geoff Roes. The leading woman Anne Ver Hoef was resting in Nikolai this morning.

Unfortunately Lindsay Gauld decided to scratch in Rohn this morning after evaluating his minor frostbite on his nose and fingers. It was a wise decision for Lindsay. Michael Schoder is planning to leave McGrath today and head to Rohn and give Lindsay a lift in his plane to Shell Lake and from there he can get get a lift by another pilot into Anchorage.

Kathi from HQ in McGrath


March 3, 2012 5:22 PM

Just got a call from Nikolai from the Petruskas that race leaders Pete and Phil arrived at the check point there. They arrived at 4:58 PM.

They are eating right now. I am not sure how long they are planning to rest.Our trail breaker Bill Merchant is heading back down the trail and returning to Rohn by snowmachine. He will give us an updated later and status on the other racers by sat phone later today.

Our face book page is accessible to anyone who doesn't have a personal face book account. It is a public page. Just click on our link here


There is great additional info by race veterans and other racers that took pictures during the race as well as links to the great Alaska Dispatch articles by Craig Medred who was on the course for the first 5 days on the course up to Rainy Pass Lodge. He had to return to Anchroage.

Articles are found also here on the AK Dispatch online only publication:

I will more updates later tonight as soon as I get the information from our check point in Nikolai.

Kath M. HQ in McGrath

March 3, 2012 9:46 AM

More leader board updates this morning. A balmy 10 F degrees are reported by Michael Schoder from Rohn this morning. He said all the racers coming through Rohn had a positive attitude and were looking good.

Bill made a trail into the Bear Creek Cabin and cut some fire wood for racers. The shelter cabin is 50 miles from Rohn and I expect some but not all racers will take a rest here. Meanwhile our check point in Nikolai at the Petruska's house is waiting to see the first racer.

The last 5 bikers are on route from Rainy Pass Lodge over the pass into Rohn. No word yet from Nikolai on where the front runners are. A beautiful calm day here in McGrath. We are anxious to hear when the leader of the race arrives in Nikolai. A finish in McGrath at the end of the 350 miles is not expected until late Sat night/early Sunday morning.

I will write another report later this afternoon.

Kathi from HQ in McGrath.

March 2, 2012 9:42 PM

‎14 racers have arrived in Rohn today, and 9 have departed this evening. It seems that Geoff might be holding his lead, but the first 20 miles leaving Rohn will be good for biking. After that the snow gets deeper and softer. Beyond Bear Creek Cabin big snow drifts were forming. By Salmon River the trail was completely blown in in all the open areas. I got this information first hand from Bill M. our trail breaker who arrived in McGrath this evening. One more biker Dave Kelley is on his way to Rainy Pass Lodge. The others arrived there this afternoon.

Leader board is updated.

21 racers remain in this year's race. The trail conditions on the remaining course are still going to be slow and soft trails. There is a lot of snow between Nikolai and McGrath. During the big storm it snowed a foot on in that area. We will have updates from Nikolai by tomorrow morning. It will be interesting to see whether a walker or biker arrives in McGrath first.

Kathi M. from HQ in McGrath

March 2, 2012 8:40 AM

Michael Schoder callled this morning. He is flying over into Rohn and helping at the checkpoint there as they will be getting busy with racers. First into Rohn was runner Geoff Roes at 1 AM. Tim was bivvies in the Dalzell Gorge. He had passed him up. Reading Craig Medred's article about Tim Hewitt, it sounds like he sprained an ankle on the sastrugi on the Pass. Craig Medred is on the trail for the online publication Alaska Dispatch by snowmobile and has written several articles already that are linked to on our face book page.

Bikers Pete and Phil were getting ready to leave Rohn at 8:30 AM to take chase at Geof Roes who at this point is only 3 hours ahead of them. Pete and Phil had arrived in Rohn at 5:30 AM.

The next stretch of trail has very little snow on it and is hard packed. Since Rohn is in the rain shadow of the Alaska Range it receives very little precipitation and little snow most years. About 20-25 miles out of Rohn they will get back into more snow, since there at 6 feet here in McGrath as well.

21 racers remain in the race. Russell Worthington had to scratch in Skwentna, he walked back down the trail from halfway to Shell Lake. His freewheel broke. He is flying out to Anchorage today.

The last 4 bikers plan was to leave Winterlake Lodge, mile 130 at 5:00 AM this morning:Italians Ausilia Vistarini, Sebastiano Favaro, Anchorage cyclist Dave Kelley and Canadian cyclist Lindsay Gauld.

Our trail breaker Bill Merchant just called me now, he was warming up his snowmachine to go break trail into the Bear Creek BLM shelter cabin about 50 miles from Rohn which is one mile off the main trail and cut firewood there for the racers, since there were reports that there was no firewood. The bear creek cabin is the only shelter on the desolate remote and often extremely cold 80 mile stretch of trail from Rohn to Nikolai, the next check point.

Bill will break trail to Nikolai and on all the way into McGrath tonight/early morning staying ahead of the leaders and making sure there is time for the trail to set up.

Kathi from HQ McGrath


March 1 2012 3:45 PM

We moved into a new location today at the Hotel McGrath where we have faster internet. Thanks to Jennifer Baumgartner and Zeb we can stay here in a two bedroom appartment with Hughes Net which we can use. I was finally able to plug in my laptop that has the software to publish on our website.

It has been a crazy four days for us tracking racers on the course. This has been a particular tough year and the efforts that these athletes have been putting in are beyond description. The runnters are in the lead. Tim Hewitt is leading the race today out of the halfway point in Puntilla/Rainy Pass Lodge, mile 165. Following one hour behind him is another well known ultra runner Geoff Roes from Juneau Alaska. This is Tim's 7th race to Nome, 1000 miles. He is 57 years old and he is putting in an amazing effort as well and Geoff and Alaskan runner Anne Ver Hoef who is currently resting in Puntilla. She is currently in fouth position.

It has been a very tough go for the bikers who have primarily been pushing their bikes through deep snow and drifted in trails on non existant trails. We have had 25 scratches primarily bikers, half the field has dropped out including race veteran and previous winner Jeff Oatley from Fairbanks and current women's record holder Louise Kobin.

9 cyclists remain in the race including 5 time champ Pete Basinger and the 2010 winner of the 1000 mile race Nome resident Phil Hofstetter who is teamed up with Basinger pushing their bikes.

The big question?

Can Pete and Phil make a move on the Pass or in Rohn where there has been no new snow since the race started and pass the runners.

Most years there is very little snow in Rohn and on the Burn where cyclist can make really good time on the trail.

There are four female racers left in the race out of 6 women that started the race. Anne, Andrea, Ausilia and Shawn.

We are all very impressed with the racers still in the race.

Feb. 28 11:00pm

It has been a long day monitoring the progress of racers. All but one racer have checked in and out of Yentna Station. 9 racers mostly runners and one skier made it to the Skwentna Roadhouse. Several more scratches today. Some overuse injuries, but mostly because it has been very tough for the athletes mentally with all the deep snow they have been struggling though. The trails have improved and racers are making better times on the trail. Three racers were at Shell Lake Lodge when I spoke with Michael Schoder there. They were resting and planning to push on to the third check point Winterlake Lodge on Fingerlake. They were Tim Hewitt, Geoff Roes and Andrea Cavagnet, the only skier left in the race. Way to go guys!! Skier and runners are still leading the race the second day of the race. The weather has been nice today and the winds have slowed down. More racers will make their way 20 miles further up the trail to Shell Lake Lodge and I will have updates in the morning. Dani Muldoon my volunteer assistant in HQ are flying into McGrath at 8:15 in the morning. I will post updates from there.


Feb. 28 11:05 AM

It has already been a busy morning with our high call volume and arranging evacuations. Kathi was on the radio this morning on Talk of Alaska discussing why the race shouldn't be tamed. Truly this race separates the weedend warriors from the meticulous great althetes. Not only are the mental and physical challenges overwelming but the adverse weather conditions as well. The Alaska frontier has thrown fastballs at these racers and struck several out already. Yet 37 have kept their defense strong and have managed to make line drives to first base. Tim Hewitt leads the way on foot, something not seen in over ten years in this race history. Peter Basinger and Phil Hofstetter on bikes are slowly creeping up on Tim and taking advantage of the break in better trail conditions. Altogether 29 racers have checked out of Yetna Station and are pushing on. These challenges aren't about never falling but how quickly one gets back up. Winds are forecasted this afternoon to blow on the open terrain possibly drifting snow over the trail yet again. Michael Schoder has reported to us that himself and four snowmachines and Michael pulling a groomer will be out to pack the trail for our athletes from Shell Lake to Skwentna.

Dani Muldoon/HQ Chickaloon


Feb. 27, 11:34 PM

It has been a busy day for us here at HQ for me and friend Dani finding out where racers are on the trail. Reports were coming in from all sorts of sources. There were very few snowmachiners on the Yentna River which is rather unusual for this popular snowmachine area. We did finally have arrivals by runners at Yentna Station the first check point 59 miles up the trail. Rich Crain our checker and volunteer at Yentna Station was busy hauling some racers to Luce's Lodge, 9 miles downriver. No bikers have left Luce's Lodge. The ones that had arrived this afternoon had gotten a cabin to spend the night. They must be really beat and tired and/or are playing it smart and are waiting for the trails to firm up overnight. Temperatures are supposed to drop tonight on the river to zero to 10 above and winds 10 -20 mph. It was -4 F in Rohn when I spoke with Bill Merchant in at 9 pm.

This year is sure a game changer. Mother nature threw a curveball in the race early making travel difficult for walkers and bikers. It has been 11 years since runners took the lead in this race on this early part of the course.

39 racers are left in the race, 8 racers scratched only 33 hours into this race. Runners are in the lead. We will see how tomorrow unfolds and if the trails firm up tonight. It is supposed to cool off. Rohn was already at -4 F. Let's hope for firm trails tomorrow.

Runner Tim Hewitt and six time finisher of the 1000 mile race to Nome is in the lead!

He left Yentna Station at 8:00PM after only resting there for 43 minutes!

Looking forward getting updates from Skwentna Roadhouse in the morning!


Feb. 27, 2:33 PM

I have been trying all morning to reach check points and lodges along the way getting information on where the racers are.

I did get some reports by sat phones from racers. Brij Potnis, James Keck, Jeff Jessen, Tom McDonald are pushing their bikes back to the Point MacKenzie store. Eric Johnson call Yentna Station from a cabin along the river, he is turning around. Donald Kane is also heading back to Knik. Rich Crain and Adam from Yentna Station are heading down the river to the confluence of the Susitna River and Yentna River breaking trail. A large group of tourist is heading up the Yentna River from Deshka Landing today. There should be a trail from the Susitna River to Yentna on to Skwentna. Michael Schoder has already snowmachined the trail from Shell down to Skwentna and back and is planning to pack the trail to Fingerlake as well. By this afternoon and later tonight there should be a good trail from the Susitna River/Scary tree all the way to Shell Lake.

I will update the website and face book as much as I can.


Feb. 27. 9:00 AM

Call from racers on a sat phone!
They camped out just before Flathorn Lake (mile 30). Jeff Jessen, Brij Potnis, Tom McDonald, James Keck. Bill Dent was with them last night and took off. Jeff Oatley and Heather Best were reported on Flathorn Lake as well. Rich Crain our Yentna checker is heading downriver with his snowmachine this morning.

February 26, 2012 9:00PM

The race started under cloudy skies and 32 degrees this afternoon at 2:00 PM. I went to Burma Road a road crossing about 9 miles down the trail and was hoping to get some pictures. It was snowing hard when I got there. I made my way back to Chickaloon where I was able to drive into our driveway, only about 4 inches of fresh snow since I had left Thursday afternoon. Half an hour ago I spoke with Cindy at the Skwentna Roadhouse, and they have gotton 14 to 15 inches of fresh snow since yesterday.

I don't expect racers at the first checkpoint at Yentna Station on the Yentna River mile 59 until 11:00 pm or midnight.

I will update the leaderboard when I get reports from Yentna Station.


February 26, 2012

Today the race starts at 2:00 PM. Today's forecast:

500 AM AKST SUN FEB 26 2012



February 24, 2012

Bill Merchant and Rob Kehrer our trail breakers on snowmachines and two Iditarod checkers who will be in Rohn left yesterday morning and made it 165 miles up the trail to Rainy Pass Lodge. They made really good time. Today they were planning on working on the trail up towards Rainy Pass, down Pass Creek and into the Dalzell Gorge. By tomorrow they should be in Rohn.

Meanwhile I am in Anchorage meeting new racers and seeing old friends here at the Golden Lion Hotel and at Alaska European B&B. I went downtown briefly today and watched a few dog teams competing in the Fur Rondy sprint mushing events. It was pretty fun to see those fast dog teams and the excitement going on this time of the year on Anchorage and in fact all over the state. I will be a Greg's pre race party later this evening and get a chance to have a face to face conversation with more racers.

Saturday from 2-4 PM we will have our pre race meeting at the Golden Lion Hotel in the Lounge 1st floor.

Then on Sunday the bus takes off at the Golden Lion Hotel 11:00 AM to transport racers to the starting line at Knik Lake.

We will start loading bikes at 10:00 AM in front of the Golden Lion Hotel.

It is about 80 miles from Anchorage to the start at Knik.

There will be food available for purchase at the Knik bar and a place to warm up in side before the race starts at 2:00 PM.

Knik Lake is on Knik Goosebay Road mile 13 outside of Wasilla.

The public is welcome to come to the start. I will have the first updates on the leaderboard up Sunday evening. Last year the first racers started getting into Yentna Station by 9:00PM.Depending on trail conditions, we will see what time they can make this year.


February 10, 2012

angry moose

Hello All,

This has been a very snowy winter along most of the trail. Because of the deep snow the moose are spending more time than normal walking the trails. Struggling up past their bellies off trail uses huge amounts of energy and they are really reluctant to step off the trail when confronted by other trail users. They are likely to be quite aggressive if pushed. I have lived around moose most of my adult life and should have known better but in 2008 in one of those, "Hold my beer and watch this moments!" I pushed a cow a little too hard outside of Skwentna and almost became moose food. Just be careful and don't make the moose angry. They have already stomped folks this winter.

     Greg Matyas is hosting our pre-race party at Speedway Cycles NEW location:
1231 W Northern Lights BLVD. It is right across the street from REI, just one building West.
It will start at 6:30 PM on Friday Feb. 24th. He said there will be lots of food and several different beverages. Thanks again Greg!!!!!

     We have always promoted reflective material on bikes, ski poles, sled poles and clothing. Now it is in our permit stipulations from Bureau of land Management that all racers have reflective markings on their person or equipment. I guess they heard their was a blind old guy riding back through the race after I finish breaking trail to McGrath.

     One last trail quote from McGrath, "There is someone trapping right along the trail through Farewell Lakes and the Burn. I hope one of your racers don't run up on a pissed off wolf or wolverine in a trap."

      Just over a week until Barry and I fly drops and food to Finger, Puntilla and Rohn . I will be picking up drops at Alaskan European B&B 3107 Cottonwood St. at noon on Feb. 18th. I'll have a first hand trail report through the Alaska Range and down the " prone to knee deep river wide overflow" Tatina when I get back.
                                                                                    See all of you very soon
ps. Cindy Abbott from King Bear Lodge on the Yentna about 15 miles down river from Skwentna on the left hand river bank is offering frre hot drinks and a place to sleep to racers. She said it will be marked and  lighted with tiki torches. Thanks Cindy and King Bear.



February 5, 2012

Remember the dead line for drop bags is Feb. 18.

Please mail or drop off your drop bags at

3107 Cottonwood Street Anchorage
Alaska 99508
by Feb. 18.

Another reminder. Make sure you have reflective tape on your bike, sled and clothing to be visible at night on the trail. Eagle Safety in Anchorage sells the best reflective tape. The stuff that goes on cones.

They also rent Satelite phones.


February 3, 2012

Check out Mike Curiak's video he filmed during the race last year traveling on the Iditarod Trail on a bike himself.

ITI '11 from lacemine29 on Vimeo.



January 31, 2012

Hello All,
    We are having an old fashioned winter this year. A lot of snow and plenty of cold. Temperatures in the interior have been -60 to -65. If this pattern holds it should be a great year to race with lots of post race stories about deep snow and cold.
     Kathi and I just finished a 5 day winter bike camp on the trails out of Flathorn Lake. Temperatures were perfect with lows from -10 to -30F. The students slept out all 4 nights and finished with a remote bivy at -30. All graduated by showing up at base camp the last morning with their fingers, nose and toes intact and a smile on their face. No small task at those temperatures. The trails around Flathorn and on the Big Susitna River are in great shape with just a little drifting on the lake.
     Latest word from Cruz Construction and Kiska mining is that there will be no ice road this year between Skwentna and Finger Lake. That should make navigation a bit easier.
     Good news from McGrath!! Peter is doing better and thinks he'll be fit enough by race time to host our finish. Peter and Tracy have been our hosts in McGrath since the race began in 1997.The Iditarod Trail Invitational would not be the same without them at the finish line welcoming us into their home. The thought of Peter's man cakes has brought many a nearly dead veteran the last few miles to the finish line.
     This real Alaskan weather has me excited and really looking forward to being on the Trail with all of you. I hope winter is good where you are and training goes well.

cold temps

January 7, 2012

Hello All,
    Our annual trail users meeting with Iditarod, Iron Dog and the Bureau of Land Management went well. Iron Dog teams had made it as far as Puntilla and word from the Trail is snow, snow and more snow. For those headed to Nome even Ruby has 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) on the ground. I will update trail conditions as I hear.
    Drops are due in Anchorage at Alaska European B&B by noon Saturday, February 18th. I will pick them up then and fly them to Rohn and Finger Lake on Sunday weather permitting. Drops for Cripple are due at the same time.
     Mike and Ingrid Jensen will not be at Finn Bear Lake this year due to an accident Mike had this fall. We will miss the hot drinks, smiles and encouragement they have always provided travelers on the Trail. Here's hoping Mike heals quickly from his wrist surgery!!
      Since I have had some questions lately here are the rules and a brief explanation to prevent misunderstandings:

Leave no trace. Do not litter the trail !! 
Being cold and uncomfortable or in a hurry is no excuse for leaving trash in a bivy site or anywhere else.
GPS tracking devices such as SPOT are not allowed in the race.
Sat Phones and/or EPRBs are allowed.

GPS units for navigation are allowed.

All survival gear
(clothing, socks, sleeping bags, etc.) for the McGrath race must be carried from the start.
You may take any route as long as you sign-in and sign-out of the required checkpoints.
Nome racers are not required to check in from each village but it is recommended so we can keep track in case of emergencies and keep the website up to date.

No support crews! Pacers, friends or family other than another racer traveling with a  racer on the Trail will be considered outside support.

Media  following an individual racer must be with an Alaska Ultra Sport guide or will be considered outside support.

No outside assistance to advance up or down the trail.
(no snowmachine or airplane rides for any reason unless a racer has withdrawn from the race)

Respect private property! We have had some problems with this in the past and the rule is stay off private property unless you are invited. Violating this rule results not only in disqualification but a lifetime ban from the race and possible prosecution by the law.

Expendables only in drop bags! Food, batteries, chemical handwarmers and simliar items only.
(drop bags will not be returned!)

Do not bring bikes, sleds or skis inside checkpoints! Thawing bikes, waxxing skis or repairing sleds is to be done outside the checkpoints.

Cyclists must start and finish with the same bike.

Smiles, Thank-you's and Tips are appreciated at all check points

Return flights from McGrath to Anchorage:
Pen Air has again given us a discounted fare without advance reservations of $198.00 and waived baggage fees for our sleds and bikes.

Greg Matyas is hosting a pre race party again this year for all racers at Speedway Cycles (Home of the Fatback). Thanks Greg!!!!
It won't be long now until we are all together on the Iditarod Trail.

Until then I hope the New Year is good to everyone and training goes well.

December 18, 2011

Winter Lake Lodge Iditarod Trail Alaska


Hello All,
        In a few short weeks Kathi and I have the pleasure of seeing all of our old friends and meeting the new racers who are coming for the eleventh annual Iditarod Trail Invitational. As always this time of year my mind is busy wondering what the Iditarod Trail has in store for us in 2012. After 2 years of good trails and mild weather I just want to remind those who haven't had the pleasure of experiencing the trail at its best in high winds, driving snow and bitter cold it might not be wise to leave that extra pair of long underwear behind to save a few ounces.
      I just talked with all the folks at our checkpoints on the Trail. Trails are in up the rivers and snow reports are from 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) at Shell Lake, 9 inches at Puntilla and almost bare at Parachute Lake near the edge of the Farewell Burn.
      Mike and Ingrid Jensen will not be at their cabin on Finn Bear Lake this year. Mike is recovering from surgery on a badly broken wrist.
      Peter Scneiderheinze who along with his wife Tracy have been our hosts in McGrath ever since the race began has just gotten out of the hospital where he spent time in intensive care with a bad case of pneumonia. We wish Peter a speedy recovery.
      Speedway Cycles (Home of the Fatback) will be hosting our pre-race party again this year.
Thanks Greg!!
      Carl and Kirsten Dixon at Winter Lake Lodge are offering a special deal for friends and family of racers who would like to stay at the lodge, see the race from the trail and maybe take a snowmachine or dogsled ride in the foothills of the Alaska Range. Those interested can contact them
      I'll have more to report as race time nears but for now we wish you good trails and a Happy Holiday Season.
                                                                                    Bill and Kathi

November 11, 2011

Winter has arrived in Alaska. While Alaska's coastal villages got pounded with winds and storm surges in the last few days,Southcentral received a significant amount of snow recently.Temperatures have been well below freezing at night and the rivers are starting to freeze up. Lakes are freezing over and Alaskans are getting excited about winter travel.

" Ice on the large lakes means that winter has come to Alaska. Ponds become meadows, lakes are landing strips and our rivers return to being highways." I am quoting John Schandelmeier, longtime Alaskan here in a recent article in the ADN.

Read more:

And he is right. Winter time is the time to travel to places in Alaska otherwise out of reach in the summer months.

It is also the time we have our race on the Iditarod Trail. And with the arrival of winter we are getting excited about the race. For about two months of the year this imaginary line in the Alaskan landscape comes alive with mushers, racers,bikers, skiers, runners,dogs and snowmobiles on the trail. We are looking forward to this time of year.

The race roster has been full with a long list of qualified racers.

We still hava spaces left in our winter training camp from January 23-27, 2012.
Upon completion participants receive approval to enter the 2013 Iditarod Trail Invitational.

See you in Alaska this winter.

Kathi Merchant


September 2, 2011

Hello All,
     Kathi and I have just finished our summer guiding season here in Alaska with back to back trips, rafting the Marsh Fork of the Canning River on the north slope of the Brooks Range and paddling the Savonoski Loop in Katmai National Park. Seems like summer was gone in a flash. Now we go south for a fall MTB guiding season in Utah. Before we know it it will be time to switch from dust and slickrock to ice and snow back in Alaska.  
     After two years of near perfect conditions I wonder what surprises the Trail holds for 2012. This is year 15 on the Trail for me either competing or breaking trail on a machine. I have been asked why I don't get tired of the same trail. I probably couldn't explain it to someone who has to ask. I have never seen the same Trail twice anyway and that includeds years I rode machines from Knik to McGrath and back to Knik. Something for racers who have only experienced the smiling face of the Iditarod Trail to keep in mind when trimming gear etc. for this years race is ," It ain't always that way!" You never know when we will be wading knee deep river wide over flow at -30 ( had to throw that one in for you Mr.O) pushing bikes over half the way to McGrath in soft snow, rain turning to wet snow with temps dropping to -35 overnight, I could go on and on but I am sure all of you have done your homework and read the reports from past years. Being prepared for a "What if???" can save fingers and toes or even your life. All that said the best stories come out of overcoming adversity not relaxing on blue bird days. Here's hoping this year's race leaves us with a lot of stories to tell and on the right side of the grass to tell them afterwards.                                        We look forward to seeing all of you on the Iditarod Trail.
                                                                                      Bill and Kathi

May 20th, 2011

The 2012 race roster is full! There is a long waiting list for racers that didn't receive a spot. The race will start Sunday, February 26th @ 2:00 PM. Bill and I are spending some time in Southern Utah currently mountain biking and getting ready for our guiding season in Alaska. We will answer racer's e-mails and questions about the race between trips whenever we are near a computer.

We have set three dates for our winter training camps since there has been a lot of interest this year.
Those are designed to prepare athletes without previous cold weather experience for the conditions during the 350 mile race on the Iditarod Trail, in order to finish the race safely and sucessful. The sucess rate among the participants of our camps is very high. Participants that complete the camp successfully will receive a spot in the race the following year.

We hope everyone has a great summer full of adventures and look forward to seeing everyone next February.

Kathi Merchant

March 29, 2011

2012 race start is Sunday February 26th, 2012

The 2011 race is officially over with Jerym Brunton finishing in Nome in 27 days. The start for the 2012 race is Sunday February 26th, 2012 @ 2:00 PM. We will start to accept entries starting April 1, 2011 for race veterans and April 8, 2011 for new racers. For race rookies please e-mail us your information including races you have completed and previous winter experience. You can call us as well at (907) 715 5336.
Looking forward to seeing everyone again next year and meeting the new racers.

Kathi Merchant

March 26, 3:34 PM

Nome resident  Meredith Ahmasuk, who also started this race several yers ago, called this afternoon that she had seen Jerym Brunton walking down front street in Nome. After correcting the time for dayling savings time, Jerym's finishing time is 27 days. Jerym is officially the first person to finish the Yukon Quest Trail 430 miles and 1000 miles to Nome in the same year back to back with only 10 days inbetween for rest.

Congratulations Jerym. Well done!!

Jerym is the 5th official person to finish the 1000 mile route this year and joins the elite club of human powered racers. Since 2000 36 racers have accomplished this.

We hope Jerym gets to celebrate in Nome and cherish his time remaining before leaving the Iditarod Trail and returning home.

The 2011 Iditarod Trail Invitational is officially finished!

Kathi M.

March 25 9:00 AM

Joanna posted on our facebook page that Jerym left White Mountain at 8:32 AM. He plans to go as far as the Topkok cabin and spend the night there. This is about halfway between White Mountain and Nome. We expect him to finish in Nome tomorrow afternoon/evening. Go Jerym! Many days and and nights you have spent in the Canadian and Alaskan wilderness!

Kathi M.

March 24, 8:45 PM

Jerym arrived in White Mountain at 7:00 PM. Joanna posted on facebook he already eaten his moose spaghetti and garlic bread, was resting and having more tea with Jack and Joanna. He plans to spend the night in White Mountain and leave for Nome in the morning.

Kathi M.

March 24, 10:00 AM

Jerym made it into Golovin last night, a small coastal village at the head of Golovin Bay 18 miles from White Mountain. He said he has been battling warm temperatures, fresh snow and winds going over Little McKinley, a mountain you have to cross before you drop into Golovin Bay. Jerym was planning to make his way to White Mountain today and rest up, leaving there tomorrow morning and go the the remaining 75 miles to Nome. Go Jerym! Way to hang in there. You are nearly there. Almost 1500 miles covered on the Iditarod Trail and Yukon Quest trail.
Jerym will be the first person to finish both races in one year, back-to back.

Some people have asked why we have all of a sudden changed the distance to 1000 miles. The length of the Iditarod Trail trails varies greatly from year to year and Southern and Northern Route. It is not 1100 miles, but somewhere around 1000. There are so many different trails used over the years, it depends who puts in the trail and so on. There are sections of trail that are used by us, but not by the Iditarod Sled Dog race or some used by the Iron Dog and some trails are local trails between villages. There are different maps showing different trails, but those trails may exist or they may not or they existed at one time and are now overgrown.
One old section of the Historic Iditarod Trail was cleared this winter and our racers got lost on it when it ended.Like I have said before, the Iditarod Trail is an imaginary line until that time of year when the trail is put in, first by Iron Dog, then by us and then by Iditarod. All three races start in different locations as well, so the distance varies, Iditarod starts in Willow, we start in Knik Lake, the home of the late Joe Redington Sr. and the Iron Dog starts in Big Lake.The Iditarod Trail is the only winter trail (snow route)in the National Historic Trail system.

The original trail started in Seward. Some of those sections on the Kenai Peninsula are hiking trails in the summertime and managed by the Chugach National Forest.
The trail length has been called a 1100 mile race, 1000 miles, I have seen 1050, 1150 , 1049 for the 49th state, 900 mile race and so on. We decided since we still start at Knik we will call the race a 1000 mile race on the Northern and Southern Route. From different measurements by GPS, bike computers and snowmachine odometers we know that the distance is different every time we measure, but 1000 miles is a good number.

Here are some interesting links about this:

Craig Medred explains some of that in the comments at the bottom of this article in the Alaska Dispatch
historic trail map BLM
Iditarod Trail National Historic Trail

Kathi M.

March 23, 9:00 AM

Jerym Brunton just called from Elim 48 miles beyond Koyuk this morning. He is walking on snowshoes. It has been snowing all night on the coast and this has slowed his progress. Jerym is hanging in there and plodding along as his goal is to finish in Nome. This is day 24 and he is still on a goo pace to Nome. He was hoping to either make the next village of Golovin 28 miles away or White Mountain 46 miles away.

March 21, 9:50 AM

Jerym Brunton called from Koyuk last night at 11:00 PM. He had made the trek across Norton Bay. He said there had been ankle deep overflow due to the warm temperatures on the first part that crossed a river delta. The crossing was not too bad he said and he didn't have too much wind. He had been invited for dinner with a local person. His plan was to get some rest and continue his trek the next day to Elim. Let's hope that despite the warm temperatures he doesn't have too much overflow to deal with.

Go Jerym!

March 20, 10:30 PM

Anchorage cyclist Billy Koitzsch arrived in Nome this morning at 3:30 AM.
Billy is happy to be finished and beating the storm into Nome.

Jerym Brunton arrived in Shaktoolik this afternoon after spending some time at the shelter cabin in the hills just before the trail drops down and follows along the beach into Shaktoolik. He had already encountered some of the winds predicted this week.After checking the weather forecast and talking with the locals in Shaktoolik Jerym decided not to cross the 30 miles of sea ice tonight.There is a gale force storm
warning in place from this evening to early Monday. Jerym made the right decision not to venture out in the sea ice in those conditions. Bill and I were in conditions like that in 2008 and you can loose visibility completely and the trail. It can be a complete whiteout.

We hope for a break in the weather for Jerym to cross the sea ice and get across to Koyuk, the next village 50 miles beyond Shaktoolik.

Kathi M.

March 19, 10:25 PM

Tim Hewitt arrived in Nome at 9:17 PM this evening setting a new overall foot record for the 1000 mile distance in the Nome race: 20 days 7 hours 17 minutes breaking last year's record by more than 7 hours and shattering his own record on the Southern Route (2009) by over 5 days.

Congratulations Tim on the new overall record and 6th finish in Nome!!
Truly amazing!

When I spoke to him in Nome just minutes ago he said he had a bad trail with 3-4 inches of fresh snow coming over Topkok, a windblown hill before the trail drops back down to the beach.
The winter storm has already moved into the Seward Peninsula and is making travel difficult for Billy Koitzsch and Jerym Brunton out there tonight. It could wipe out the trail in places, especially if the wind is blowing.

Kathi M.

March 19, 9:50 PM

Tim is only 3 miles out of Nome according to Nome resident ( last year's 1000 mile winner) Phil Hofstetter's post on our facebook page.Tim should arrive under the burled arch within the hour, he could shatter last year's fastest record for travel by foot by several hours.

Watch the Nome webcam overlooking the burled arch to see Tim arrive in Nome.

This will be Tim's 6th finish on foot in Nome, 6000 miles walked on the Iditarod Trail!!

March 19, NOON

Runner Tim Hewitt and cyclist Billy Koitzsch are trying to reach Nome before a winter storm with snow fall, winds and blowing snow hits the Seward Peninsula.
According to Joanna's post on our facebook page, Billy left White Mountain at 11:22 AM in good spirits and gunning for Nome.

We expect Tim to arrive in Nome sometime this evening before midnight.

Jerym Brunton had arrived in Unalakleet and is on his way to Shaktoolik where he may have to wait out the storm and blowing snow with bad visibility tomorrow. I am not sure when he left Unalakleet since he did leave a message last night but I have not talked with him this morning.

When I was on the trail to Nome in 2008, Bill and I were caught in such a storm on the coast that lasted 6 days from the time we arrived in Shaktoolik all the way to Nome which made our progress difficult and riding the bikes impossible for most of the way. It is all about timing on the Ididtarod Trail, when and where you are, where the winds are, when they are blowing and when the wind is not blowing.

The high pressure system that has been in place over the entire state for almost three weeks that made many new records in our race and the Iditarod Sled Dog race possible,seems to come to an end with the first precipitation on the trail since the race started on February 27th.

NOAA weather forecast:



812 AM AKDT SAT MAR 19 2011


Kathi M.

March 19, 8:45 AM

Tim Hewitt is on his last 70 miles to Nome. We expect him to arrive this evening.

Jerym Brunton called at midnight, he was in Unalakleet and ready to hit the trail again in the early afternoon to Shaktoolik. They are cruising right along on foot this year too.

March 18, 8:25 PM

Runner Tim Hewitt is in White Mountain, only 70 miles from Nome. He was having dinner at Jack and Joanna's home in White Mountain: fresh crab legs from the Bering Sea and musk ox. Tim is 3,5 hours ahead of Tom Jarding's time who set a new foot record last year on the Northern Route. Go Tim!
This is Tim's 6th time walking 1000 miles to Nome. Unbelievable how many miles he has run and walked on the Iditarod Trail.

Billy Koitzsch who is riding the course unofficial was in Elim this afternoon and should arrive in White Mountain not too far behind Tim.

No word from Jerym Brunton yet. He left Kaltag on the Yukon River the morning of March 17th and it could take him 2-3 days to cover the 80 miles over the Kaltag portage to the first coastal village, Unalakleet (which means where the east wind blows in the Inupiaq language).

When the weather is nice, the coastal section can be some of the most beautiful scenery along the Iditarod Trail. Traveling along the coast and on the sea ice and long the Bering Sea Coast is quite special.

Kathi M.

March 18 9:00 AM

Tracey Petervary finished under the burled arch in Nome after riding 1000 miles on the Southern Route in 18 days 6 hours 30 minutes. She is the first woman to finish the 1000 mile race twice. She finished in 18 days 6 hours last year on the Northern Route setting a new record for the fastest time in the 1000 mile distance for a woman.
Congratulations Tracey!

Tim Hewitt arrived in Elim in 11:45 PM last night.

March 17, Noon

Tracey Petervary is on her last 75 miles on her way to Nome to become the first woman to finish both the North and South route 1000 miles in record time in back-to-back years! Go T-race!

We expect her to finish under the famous burled arch in Nome this evening.

Kathi M.

March 17, 8:00 AM

Aidan Harding finishes the Nome race in second place last night at 11:15 PM becoming the first person to ride the entire route on a single speed bike. Congratulations Aidan! Super effort. His finishing time is also over 4 days faster than the previous Southern Route record.

March 16 9:00 PM

Jay Petervary wins the 2011 Iditarod Trail Invitational 1000 mile race to Nome.
He sets a new Southern Route record of 17 days 6 hours. Way to go Jay!!

Congratulations Jay!

Phil Hofstetter and a Nome resident our last years Nome winner was there to greet Jay and present him with his prize. A gift certificate he got from Airport Pizza. Jays punishment for winning is a free entry in next years race!

We expect Aidan Harding into Nome sometime before midnight. He will become the first cyclist on a single speed to finish to Nome. Tim Hewitt called from Shaktoolik at 5:30 PM. He had strong winds the last 8 miles into the village that sits on a narrow spit of land exposed on one side to the Bering Sea and Norton sound on the other with nothing to block the wind. Tim planned to head out shortly after he called and go at least as far as the shelter cabin just before you start across Norton Sound. Jerym Brunton called from Kaltag at 7:00 PM. He was very happy to finally be off the Yukon. He had just got off the river when the head checker for Iditarod called him over and invited him in to eat all the left over food he could stomach and sleep in the checkpoint. I just got a call from Tracey from White Mountain. She had a great day and said it was so beautiful she had trouble keeping moving. She plans to sleep until she wakes up before she heads out for the final leg into Nome. She said to tell Jay he is to meet her in Safety and ride in with her but to leave his mustache in Nome. She shared the inside joke with me but I will let all of you use your imagination.


March 16, 11:00 AM

Quite a bike race on the homestretch to Nome!! Jay was into White Mountain at 9:00 am. He was having a bite to eat at Jack and Joanna's house and planned to leave about 9:30. Aidan arrived around 10:00 am planning to head out straight away after he ate. Aidan had stopped and slept about 6 hours while Jay pushed on from Elim with 3 hours rest to get into White Mountain ahead of him. Aidan has been resting longer and riding a bit faster up until now so we will have to see how being more rested plays out on the 70 mile push into Nome. When the racers leave the river after White Mountain they will head up into the Topkok hills before dropping down onto the coast again for the final stretch into Nome. Tracey called from Elim at 10 pm ready to hit the trail to Golovin. She sounded in good spirits. I heard Phil Hofstetter last years Nome winner was headed out by snowmachine later to check on the racers and hopefully he can give us an update on how the race for the lead is playing out so we can keep everyone posted. I expect to hear from Jerym sometime today from Kaltag and Tim should be arriving in Shaktoolik.

March 15, 10:30 PM

Tim called in at 10:00 pm from Unalakleet. He said he had a great day on the Portage and except for some field surgery on his feet was feeling fine. He was checking the extended weather forecast before deciding whether to rest or run to stay ahead of the big winds he has dealt with the past two years. He is on pace to break his southern route record. If the winds catch up to him I hope at least they are tail winds and not the nasty headwinds and ground blizzards he seems to attract. It is hard to imagine how someone could head out on the Trail for their 6th trip to Nome on foot. Most mortals feet would have fallen off long before now but Tim just keeps trucking along like the enegizer bunny.

Bill M.

March 15, 9:00 PM

Heard from Aidan when he arrived in Elim at 5:00 PM. He got lucky and mistakingly took a direct route across the ice to Elim without stopping in Koyuk. He planned to eat and head right out. In the Mcgrath race we have no set route but all racers must hit all checkpoints. In the Nome race since we have no official checkpoints racers are asked to call in from villages where they stop for safety reasons and so we can keep family and fans up dated as to their whereabouts but it is not required to hit or stop at every village and they may take any route they choose. The reasoning behind this is if a racer gets to a village in the middle of the night there may be no phone available and a rule requiring them to stop and call in from each village would be impractical. The only other alternative route that bypasses a village I know of is Shageluk to Grayling bypassing Anvik. The danger of taking alternate routes is they are not always put in and they sometimes end in the middle of nowhere as happened early in this years race when racers took the Historic Iditarod Trail and in a previous year with the Shageluk to Grayling trail. Jay called in at 8:45 pm and had arrived in Elim. He was going to eat and wasn't sure if he would rest or head right out. If he rests too long I wouldn't be surprised if Tracy sneaks past in the dark. Just like this years Iditarod we have quite the race going on nearing the finish line in Nome. Clear skies a bright moon and light winds should make for a beautiful trip over the big hill aptly called Little McKinley to Golovin and on to White Mountain.

Bill M.

March 15, 5:10 PM

Day 16 in the Iditarod Trail Invitational and the bikers are moving up the trail towards Nome fast. All of them Jay, Tracey and Aidan will be in Nome under Carl Hutching's time of 22 days 47 minutes from 2005 on the Southern Route. We are not sure who is in the lead. All we know is that Aidan and Jay left Shaktoolik at 5:00 AM this morning. Jay then called from Koyuk. He had arrived at 12:30 PM and Tracey at 3:30 PM. They are both heading into Elim tonight another 48 miles away. Aidan didn't call us and neither Tracey or Jay had seem him or his tracks. He could be ahead and had taken a direct route into Elim or he could be behind them.

In some years there is a direct route into Elim but that route is not in every year, it depends if the bay is frozen up or not. There is another shelter cabin Kwick 'n Creek halfway, but I doubt they will stop there since the weather has been really nice. Not much wind and sunny days. We hope to get another call from Elim from Jay or Aidan tonight. I will update the website and facebook then. No word from Tim or Jerym today. Billy made it into Kaltag yesterday.

Kathi M.

March 14, 10:00 PM

After another phone call from Shaktoolik with Jay we found out that Aidan was in Shaktoolik as well.They were all planning to get some rest and head back out on the trail in the morning.
The race is on between the Petervarys and Aidan Harding.

It is 20 miles to the next shelter cabin and 30 miles across the open barren sea ice to Koyuk.
I know from experience it can be very difficlut to be out on the sea ice when the wind starts to blow. Nothing stops the wind out there.I pretty much pushed my bike across the sea ice and eventually bivvied on the sea ice after we lost visibility and could not see from one marker to the next in 2008. You don't want to loose the trail on the sea ice.That year presented record snows on the coast, relentless winds and endless snow drifts.It had all changed once we had pulled into Shaktoolik and the wind started blowing and would not quit for the next 6 days.Most years the coast presents hard trails.Most of the snow this year is glazed over so there may not be much snow to blow around, even though the winds were predicted be be gusting 25 mph tonight on Norton Sound. Be safe out there racers.

Kathi M.

March 14, 9:00 PM

Jay and Tracey arrived in Shaktoolik at 6:30 PM. Tracey was already sleeping when Jay called. Jay broke the spring on one of his pedals and is hoping to get a replacement flown in which can be difficult in the coastal villages. They were planning to head out 20 miles to the next shelter cabin and then cross the 30 miles of sea ice across into Koyuk.
We haven't heard from Aidan, not sure if he is slow or being sneaky.

Tim Hewitt called early in the afternoon after he had arrived in Kaltag. He had encountered ground blizzards on the Yukon River and had bivvied out 18 miles from Kaltag. He said the snow had been sugary and granular leaving Grayling until Eagle Island on the Yukon River. He was getting his resupply package from the post office and was planning to continue on over the portage stopping at the shelter cabins to get some rest.

No word on where Billy or Jerym are. We are guessing that Jerym left Grayling this morning and that if could take him at least 3 days to reach Kaltag. This is the next opportunity for him to call us.

Kathi M.

March 14, 2011 9:40 AM

Tracey just called from Unalakleet. Tracey and Jay Petervary have reached the coast. Tracey said they had stopped at the Tripod Flats cabin and then rested some more at the Old Woman cabin. She estimated total riding time was 8 hours on the portage trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet. She said the trail has been amazing and superfast. The Petervarys and Aidan are on a record setting pace on the Southern Route to Nome and much ahead of Carl Hutchings time of 22 days 47 minutes in 2005 where he was the only biker to finish the race and only one of two racers to finish at all that year. If the trails stay hard and fast the Petervarys could make Nome in just over 18 days just like their last year's finishing time and Tracey would be the first woman to complete both routes and in an amazing fast time.

Sunday the clocks were switched to daylight savings time, we will deduct one hour from their time and stay on wintertime for their time tracking.

Since the 1100 mile race to Nome began in the human powered category in the year of 2000 only 8 racers have completed the Southern Route, 5 by bike and 3 on foot. Check the Nome stats here

When Andy Heading and Mike Estes first completed the Southern Route in 2001, it took them just over 26 days and they walked halfway to Nome that year. Kudos to those athletes that hung in there and would not quit.That puts things in perspective on how amazing the trail conditions are on the Southern Route this year where the athletes have been able to ride their bikes most of the way so far.

The trail conditions on the Iditarod Trail are unpredictable and can change many times during the event, but the weather gods are still smiling at the competitors this year and they have ever since the race started on February 27th.

Kathi M.



March 13, 2011 7:40 PM

Jay and Tracey Petervary and single speeder Aidan Harding have all arrived in Kaltag this afternoon. They were picking up their resupply packages at the Kaltag post office and were planning to head back out on the Kaltag-Unalakleet portage trail.
Jay and Tracey were only planning to go as far as the Tripod Flats cabin about 27 miles from Kaltag. The portage is a beautiful stretch of trail and I was able to ride a large portion of it in 2008 until the wind started blowing and then drifted in the trail. 2008 was a big snow year on the coast and we had to contend with a constant 15 mph-30 mph wind gusting to 50 mph at times for our final 6 days on the coast. The trail was mostly drifted in all the way. The weather forecast looks very good for the racers this year. 15mph winds are not terrible on the coast, it is just a nice day on the Bering Sea Coast. The portage trail connects the Lower Yukon to the coast and was used as a trading route between the Athabascan people of the Interior and the Inupait people on the coast. The terrain is rolling hills and beautiful scevery until you get closer to the coast and hit some flats and the Unalakleet River. The Bureau of Land Management has established two public use cabins on that stretch, Tripod Flats and Old Woman cabin to split the 80 mile distance and provide shelter along the way.

Jerym called later this afternoon and he had arrived in Grayling, just getting ready for the 125 mile Yukon River section. The Yukon River is big, its banks are over a mile apart in places with big islands and sloughs. It can take hours by human power to the next bend in the river and once you get there there is another river bend miles away. Traveling these giant rivers by bike or on foot can be mind bogling. It seems to never end and it doesn't seem you are moving any closer to your next destination.

We have not heard from Billy or Tim Hewitt since they left Grayling.

Kathi M.

March 12,2011 Noon

Hello All,

      Jimmy Haigh arrived in McGrath yesterday wrapping up another successful 350 mile ITI. Congratulations to all the racers who finished. We had several amazing performances this year. Pete Basinger nearly broke his own record to win for his 5th time. Lou Cobin shattered the women's 350 bike record by more than 20 hours with her 3 day 22 hour 20 minute finish in 4th place over all. Loreen Hewitt broke her women's foot record for the second time in 6 days 23hours 30 miinutes. Ausillia Vistarini became the first female to finish on a single speed establishing a new record for that discipline of 5 days 5 hours 50 minutes. Rookie Lance Andre who finished in 8th place 4 days 2 hours 10 minutes was given the tough guy award by our official trail reporter from the Alaska Dispatch Craig Medred after he talked to Lance by phone in the hospital post race. Seems he finished with a displaced fracture in his leg, a mild concussion and an arm he broke in a fall on the Post River Glacier. Here's to a speedy recovery Lance!
      Thanks to Greg Matyas for the pre race party at Speedway Cycles and Ann Ver Hoef and Michael Schoder for the pre race dinner. Thanks Irene for receiving all the drop bags and mothering some of our racers at Alaskan European B&B.  Thanks to Rob Kehrer who was the driving force behind the great trail over the Pass as our head trailbreaker and for his always stellar job as our Rohn checker and to OE an Iditarod checker who teamed up with us for the second year to break trail and help out in Rohn. Thanks to all the checkpoints : Dan and Jean Gabryszak and Rich Crain at Yentna Station, Mark and Cindi at Skwentna Roadhouse, Zoe at Shell Lake, Carl and Kirsten and the crew at Winter Lake lodge, Mike and Ingrid at Finn Bear lake, Steve Perrins Jr. and crew atRainy Pass lodge, Nick, Olene, and Stephanie Petruska in Nikolai and to Peter and Tracy Schneiderheinze our wonderful hosts in McGrath. Thanks to all the folks in town, on the trail and in the villages not mentioned who give their time and hospitality to make the race the great event it has become.
 Good luck to the 6 racers (5 officially) who are headed up the Yukon, over the Portage and up the coast to Nome.    
      A huge thanks to all of you who lined up at the start in Knik. We hope to see you back with us for another race on the Iditarod Trail in 2012.
      Entries for next year begin with veteran finisher registration April 1st - 7th. Rookie registration begins on April 8th. Even with a full roster of 50 we have never had more than 45 racers start the race due to late withdrawals, injuries, jobs, family etc. Because of this and all the increased interest in the race I have relented and will sign up 55 racers for 2012 to give more qualified racers a chance to join the ITI family for our annual reunion on the Idtarod Trail.

All the Best in the coming year!!!!!!!


                                                                                          Bill and Kathi 


March 12, 9:00 AM

Jerym just called from Shageluk. He sounded happy but tired. He has also been seeint the Northern Lights every night. We hear they haven't been this active in a decade. Lucky for the racers. It must be amazing out there on the trail having the Northern Lights overhead. Jerym said he planned to rest and then make a push to Grayling. Way to go Jerym, 930 mile into your 1500 mile journey!

Kathi M.

March 11, 7:40 PM

Jimmy Haigh arrived in McGrath today at 4:45 PM in just over 12 days ,happy but tired and I am sure he was hungry. Jimmy is known to be a big eater.He is the last racer finishing th 350 mile race this year.
Congratulations Jimmy for hanging in there!

Tracey, Jay and Aidan are back out on the trail from Gayling early this morning. The bikers are cruising. Tim Hewitt arrived in Grayling at 4:00PM. He is making amazing time on foot. He is past the halfway mark in just over 12 days. Billy was out of Shageluk and we have not heard from Jerym yet as of this evening. Billy said that Jerym was doing great and should arrive in Shageluk this evening. The Nome racers have been making great progress considering it is the Southern Route this year which is known for bad trails or no trails at all and feriocious headwinds on the Yukon River on the way to Kaltag. We checked the weather and there was hardly any wind on the river or on the coast.
The weather gods are still smiling for our 5 racers and Billy Koitzsch out there.

I will post about Jerym in the morning if he calls.

Kathi M.

March 11, 10:20 AM

Jay and Tracey Petervary arrived in Grayling last night at 10:20 PM. Robin MacAlpine who met some of our racers in McGrath a few days ago is in Grayling and ran into Jay this morning at 7:00 AM in the hallway of the Grayling school. He said he would post more pictures of Jay and Tracey on our facebook page as they were leaving there this AM. Tim Hewitt just called from Anvik. He said the trail was punchy last night and that he was traveling on snowshoes , then bivvied, to let the trail set up. Aidan Harding our UK single speeder was just seen by Robin in Grayling looking strong and sorting through his resupply package. They expect the first mushers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race in Grayling this AM. Jay and Tracey hope to head back out on the trail ahead of them. Jay is looking forward to seeing all the dog teams. He has gotten fond of dog mushing since he started handling for a Wyoming musher this winter.

Way to go Jay, Tracy, Aidan and Tim.

No word on Billy Koitzsch or Jerym Brunton yet. They should be arriving in Shageluk today. Unless we get a call from the racers on the trail we don't know where they are on the trail. After Grayling racers are facing 130 miles of Yukon River to the next village of Kaltag where the South Route rejoins the North Route trail. This section is known for notorious head winds. Tim Hewitt and Tom Jarding were confronted with these brutal head winds on that river section in 2009.

We hope the trail gods keep smiling on these racers and that they have more beautiful sunny and calm weather on their way to Nome.

Kathi Merchant

March 10, 5:45 PM

Tim Hewitt made it into the 500 mile point the village of Shageluk. He was planning to pick up his resupply package and continue on to Anvik and Grayling in a couple of hours.

Tim said the trails have been ideal, a little soft after the trail breakers come through. Jay and Tracey said they had only pushed their bikes only 15 miles so far since leaving Knik Lake 11 days ago.

No word on where Billy is or Jerym. Jerym had left a day behind Tim from McGrath. We expect to get a call from him tomorrow.

March 10, 11:00 AM

Day 11 of the race. Jimmy is still on the trail to Grath. Our red lantern racer in the 350. We just received a call from Jay Petervary from Shageluk, about 500 miles into the race to Nome. He said they had a good trail from Ophir to Iditarod. But then there was no trail only deep snow. They spent 2 days there with Aidan Harding from the UK helping at the Iditarod checkpoint. Once the Iditarod trail breakers made it through they were back on the trail and rode all night into Shageluk. Jay said that the country on the Southern Route was much more beautiful than the stretch of trail from Ophir to Ruby on the Northern Route which is used in even numbered years. Jay and Tracey completed the Northern Route last year in just over 18 days. Him and Tracey were in good spirits and only planned to stop for 2 hours then get back on the trail to Grayling the next community before the 130 miles of Yukon River to Kaltag.

They last saw Aidan Harding at the new BLM shelter cabin at the Big Yetna River 25 miles from Shageluk.
Tim Hewitt had caught up to them at Iditarod and was making great progress on the trail as well.

The weather has been rather warm and mild, sunny in the daytime and no colder than -10 F at night which all of us racers consider ideal conditions where it is not too cold and we don't get too sweaty and can stay dry while moving along.

Jay said the trail weather gods have been good to them.

Kathi m.

March 9, 4:30 PM

I just received an e-mail from our host in Anchorage Irene May with Alaska European B&B that Cookie and Savino were back in Anchorage. Cookie and Savino are not going to Nome this year. Congratulations for finishing the 350!


March 9, 4:19 PM

Jimmy arrived in Nikolai at 12:45 pm this afternoon. I did get a call after I had gone to town ( first time I have left my cabin since last Tuesday) and I don't have smart phone. I just got back to my cabin in Chickaloon and was able to post this. Jimmy was doing great. He has been talking to many of the mushers that chatted with him on the trail. He kept telling them, "hey aren't you in a race?" so they would go on. Way to go Jimmy.
Almost there, 300 miles done only 50 miles to go!!
Meanwhile I was still in Wasilla when I got a call from Tom Jarding who set a new record to Nome last year, that we had been following the Iditarod race on the Iditarod Insider and saw Klaus on a video just outside of McGrath on the Insider. What a way to find out that Klaus was nearly at the finish line. I did call in McGrath where Alex Casanovas who is still in McGrath told me that Klaus had in fact arrived at the finish line at 12:30 pm so before the 10 day cut off.
Congratulations Klaus!! Well done. When I spoke with Alex who was on his way to the Iditarod checkpoint to see the sled dogs Klaus was already sound asleep.
For those that are on the trail so much longer than the leaders it isn't any easier. They spend so much more time on the trail.

Kathi M.

March 9, 9:08 AM

Jimmy was last seen by one of the mushers yesterday evening near Salmon River about 10 miles out of Nikolai. This morning a pilot is planning to fly over that area and give us an update on Jimmy's position. Klaus ist still on the trail between Nikolai and McGrath. When I spoke with him over the phone in Nikolai he wasn't sure if he could make it in one push. So he may have bivvied along the way. This morning 25 mushers are already in Takotna, a small community 18 miles beyond McGrath. Our two walkers have been passed on the trail by all these mushers. I am sure they enjoyed seeing the dog teams. Temperatures are rather mild on the trail with spring like temperatures in the high 20's in the daytime, clear skies and no change in the weather forecast. I will check with our hosts in McGrath if Cookie and Savino are back on the trail to Nome.

No word from the other racers yet that left McGrath on March 5th. It could take them 5 days to arrive in Shageluk.

Kathi M.

March 8, 8:09 AM

Cookie and Savino arrived late last night at 11:05 pm at the 350 mile finish line in 8 days 9 hours 5 minutes. 2 hours later the lone Skier Andy Stearns from Fairbanks and rookie Shawn McTaggert arrived to gether at 1:15 am. They were all happy to be there after over a week on the trails and in the cold and on desolate trails for the last 150 miles with temperatues down to -35 at night.

Congratulations to all you you, great finish!
They were welcomed by other racers and the warm hospitality of the Schneiderheinzes in McGrath where Peter and Tracey our hosts were fixing the world famous man cakes this morning.Their house was busy with activity and they were fixing breakfast for a dozen racers. Without Peter and Tracey the race and finish in McGrath would not be the same.The leaders of the Iditarod Sled Dog race are expected to arrive in McGrath tonight and many of the racers were planning to stay up late and watch the arrival of the dog teams.

Kathi M.

March 7, 6:33 PM

Cookie, Savino, Andy and Shawn have not arrived in McGrath yet. It will take them 16-17 hours to cover those last 50 miles. So they should be getting into McGrath by 9:00-10:00 PM. The Iditarod dog teams have already past through the Rohn checkpoint and will catch up to our last two walkers, Jimmy and Klaus, who have not checked into Nikolai yet. Jerym Brunton is getting some rest in McGrath and plans to head back out on the trail to Nome by tomorrow. Today was a beautiful sunny day again, the temperatures along the trail were in the high 20's. The racers on the trail should have a good time out there on the trail. Some of the racers that have arrived are staying in McGrath to wait for the arrival of the dog teams which is a spectacular sight and great to watch.

March 7, 2:00 PM

Another great article by our on the trail reporter Craig Medred in the Alaska Dispatch who has been on the Iditarod Trail reporting from the trail for many years.Loreen Hewitt's new women's foot record.
There are also some great images of racers while Craig was on the trail last week.

I have posted some of the pictures Bill Merchant took braking trail through Rainy Pass and driving his snowmobile to McGrath and back. He got back from the trail Saturday at 2:00 AM and very tired, he snowmachinged about 900 miles in 11 days. Here are his images and a short video of Louise Kobin and Eric Warkentin on the trail just before McGrath.

March 7, 9:15 AM

Another beautiful day in Alaska. Shawn, Andy, the lone skier in a winter race and Cookie and Savino are all on their last 50 miles to the finish line in McGrath. Jerym Brunton arrived in McGrath last night at 10:45 pm in 7 days 8 hours 45 minutes. Well done Jerym! He is planning to continue another 750 miles to Nome and complete this year's 1500 mile journey.

We are still waiting for Jimmy and Klaus to arrive into Nikolai.

The Iditarod Sled Dog race started in Willow yesterday and the leaders are expected in Nikolai tonight. So Jimmy and Klaus will have the rare opportunity to see the dog teams pass them on the Iditarod Trail. I had this opportunity in 2008 halfway to Nome and it was amazing to watch the leaders of the Iditarod Dled Dog race pass by at night and I was watching them in the dark of the night from my sleeping bag from only 20 feet away. I will never forget that. What a beautiful sight.

Kathi M.

March 5 8:00 PM

Donald Kane and Alex Casanovas finish in McGrath this evening. Still waiting on Jerym Brunton who is also planning to walk to Nome this year. He just finished walking 430 miles on the Yukon Quest Trail in early February, then came to Alaska. His plan is to do both trails back to back like no one has done before and walk 1500 miles. Go Jerym! Cookie and Savino just arrived in Nikolai at 7:00 pm and plan to head back out on the trail by 5:00 am.

Super effort everyone. We have such a strong field of athletes this year! Our careful selection of applicants has paid off.

This leaves only 6 racers currently on the trail that have not at the 350 mile finish line by the 7th day.

I think they will all make it within the 10 time limit.

Kathi M.

March 5 4:56 PM

Loreen Hewitt arrived in McGrath at 1:30 pm setting a new women's foot record again! Her husband Tim had arrived with Eric Johnson earlier at 3:54 am and had quite the race going on between them from Nikolai to McGrath, 50 miles sprinting to McGrath, taking only 13,5 hours, that's 3.7 mph 300 miles into a foot race!!

They had quite the showdown in the end and Tim and Eric tied for first place in the foot division.

Tim had asked to wait for the posting of the results until Loreen arrived.
Upon checking her time we found that she has yet again set a new women's foot record , shaving off 11,5 hours from her last year's record.

Way to go Tim, Loreen and Eric!!!
Tim has already headed back out on the trail at NOON today off to Nome for his 6th time!!!
Impressive field, impressive racers, amazing year on the Iditarod Trail two new women's records!!

Kathi M.

March 5 1:33 PM

Bill Dent finishes in 6 days 21 hours 15 minutes!! Congratulations! Billy Koitzsch arrives in McGrath at 1:00 PM.


March 5 12:46 PM

Alex Casanovas, Bill Dent, Donald Kane, Jerym Brunton and Billy Koitzsch are back on the trail to McGrath. Super effort everyone! Only 50 miles to go!

March 5 NOON

Klaus Schweinberger and Jimmy Haigh were the last racers to leave Rohn at 4:00 AM and 9:00 AM. Way to go!!

Kathi M.

March 5 10:00 AM

More racers finish in McGrath in the early morning hours. Piera Damonte arrives at the finish line just after midnight. Eric Johnson is the first runner to arrive.13,5 hours for the last 50 miles, what way to finish Eric!

Mark Ruda arrives at 4:39 AM in 24th place.Congratulations!


March 5 8:00 PM

Jerym Brunton and Billy Koitzsch arrive in Nikolai this evening.
Still to come into Nikolai by tomorrow or Monday are Shawn, Cookie, Savino, Jimmy, Andy and Klaus. 80 miles is a long way. And it is extremly remote country out there. For those interested Don Bower's trail notes are a great read on the Iditarod website, it is from a musher's perspective, but Don describes the trail really well. There is a description for every section of the Iditarod Trail.

Other than lodges and cabins there is no town from Skwentna to Nikolai. And there are no roads out there. All the supplies, food etc. comes in by air.

Donald Kane and Bill Dent are departing at 8:00 pm to get back on the trail to the finish line. 50 more miles to go. You can pound it out.

Alex was still resting in Nikolai this evening.

March 5 5:00 PM

More racers have arrived in Nikolai. Bill Dent, Alex Casavonas and Donald Kane are in Nikolai. They said runner Jerym Brunton was about 2 hours out.

Tim and Loreen are trying to keep their lead in the foot division and left 35 minutes ahead of Eric Johnson. They have 50 miles to go on footto the finish line in McGrath. We expect them in McGrath early Sunday morning.
It will be a race to the finish line between Tim/ Loreen and Eric Johnson.

Piera Damonte and Mark Ruda are also on their last 50 miles into McGrath, both race rookies and both attended one of our winter training camps to prepare racers with no cold weather or winter biking/wintercamping experience for this race. If they arrive in McGrath as well all four of our last years students finished which I see as a total success of our training camps.

More news we hope to hear later tonight is that Jerym made it into Nikolai and Piera and Mark intoMcGrath and Klaus and Jimmy in Rohn. Billy Koitzsch is also on the trail to Nikolai. We won't have any updates from Shawn, Cookie or Savino until they arrive in Nikolai, but it is 80 miles from Rohn to Nikolai and on foot this could take 30-40 hours.

In McGrath racers Jay and Tracey Petervary and Aidan Harding were planning to take off for Nome today.

It is 18 miles to the next small community of Takotna, Ophir is basically a ghost town with some old cabins. This is where the trail splits off to the North and South Route. They will be taking the South Route this year which runs through the ghost town of Iditarod and the next time they can make a phone call to check in with the race organization is the village of Shageluk, 200 miles from McGrath. The trail from Ophir to Shageluk, Grayling, Anvik and on up the Yukon River is only used every two years (in odd years) during the Iditarod race . The trail is broken by the Iditarod trail brakers. It could take our human powered racers 4-5 days from McGrath to Shageluk or longer. There will be no communications inbetween. There are two new shelter cabins built by the Bureau of Land Management on that remote stretch of trail where the racers will be able to take shelter and get some rest. We also provide a food and supply drop for them at the ghost town of Iditarod. We are excited to monitor their progress and follow along on their journey.

I will write another update tonight.

Kathi M.

March 5 11:40 AM

Tim and Loreen Hewitt just made it into Nikolai, 5 hours behind leading foot racers Eric Johnson. When Stephanie called I could hear them chat in the background. There is always a lot of trail stories to share, conditions. Racers have so much to tell about what the trail their trip was like. Piera and Mark were still sleeping at the Nikolai checkpoint at that time. No word on Jerym yet. The next racers expected in Nikolai are Jerym, Bill Dent and Donald Kane.

March 5, 10:00 AM

As of this morning 20 racers have finished at the 350 mile finish line in McGrath. All of them so far are cyclist. For people from outside of Alaska that would not necessarily make sense since they don't know this winter trail. Fact is it is a winter-route only. The trail doesn't exist in the summer only few parts of it. Despite the great trail conditions the race has been more stressful for me as RHQ than other years so I haven't really had the time to write much about the trail itself or the individual racers in the event.

They are all phenomenal athletes and great people to be around. The first runners have yet to arrive but we are only going into day 6 today at 2:00PM. Eric Johnson is the leading runner currently in his 5th year on the Iditarod Trail. Followed by race veterans Tim and Loreen Hewitt who holds the women's foot record. Tim has done the 350 race a dozen times and he has walked to Nome 5 times previously (2001, 2004, 2008,2009,2010)
This will be his 6th attempt. He has walked more miles on the Iditarod Trail than anyone else! Including 100 mile race, several 350 mile finishes and Nome finishes, Tim has walked over 7000 miles on the Iditarod Trail.

Getting close to Nikolai also is Jerym Brunton who intends to walk over 1500 miles. He had just walked 430 miles on the Yukon Quest Trail in Canada early February and is continuing his journey north with another 1100 miles. By the time he gets to Nikolai he is only halfway there. His cause is found here: Justgiving

Jerym finished the 350 mile race last year in order to enter the 1100 mile race this year.

Even though the weather and conditions have been just phenomenal on the iditarod Trail, it is never easy, I know for a fact I have done it three times, in 2008 all the way to Nome. There is many challenges along the way, physically, mentally and the trail itself. Just the remoteness of the trail, the constant cold and the lack of comfort makes it a very difficult challenge.
9 racers are planning to ride or walk to Nome this year: Jay & Tracey Petervary, Sean Grady, Jerym Brunton, Aidan Harding, Tim Hewitt, Howard Cook, Savino Musicco. Billy Koitzsch will continue his ride to Nome after leaving the course,but it will not be listed as an offical finish. Good luck to you ALL!

Thanks everyone for following along and I will post more when I get the phone calls from our checkpoints.

I did receive a sat phone call from Rohn from Bill who is heading out and back down the trail. Cookie and Savino left Rohn this morning. The two racers left to come into Rohn are Jimmy and Klaus. I am sure he will see them on the pass as he is headed over the top back to Puntilla.

Kathi Merchant

March 5, 8:15 AM

We have more finishers in McGrath (350miles) this morning.
Harald Schiff arrived at 1:00 AM this morning, Janice Tower, Joe Pollock and Sean Grady arrived at 1:10 AM.
Congratulations to all you you. Joe did this ride in honor of his grandfather and to raise money for the Alaska Alzheimer's Resouce. Great ride all of you, well done!

Sean Grady is another rider planning to continue on to Nome this year.

I also received a call from Stephanie in Nikolai and got an update from there. Eric Johnson is leading the foot race!This is Eric's 5th year racing on the Iditarod Trail and last year was his personal best with a finish of 5 days and 18 hours. Lookis like it will take him a bit longer this year.

Only 50 miles to go now Eric.

Also arrived in Nikolai this morning have Piera Damonte and Mark Ruda. Keep pedaling, you're both almost there.

March 4, 8:30 PM

I have had a busy day myself with just life in an off the grid cabin in Alaska, but I want to write a final update for the evening. I spoke with Bill Merchant who was in Rohn this evening. He had made a trip to the top of Rainy Pass and had seen Shawn on the trail near the top of the pass and he said she was doing great, had a big smile.
Cookie and Savino arrived in Rohn this evening.

I also spoke with Tracey Petervary in McGrath, she said she was feeling happy to be there and was looking forward to the trip to Nome with husband Jay.

I heard through Jennifer who lives in McGrath that her brothers at Submarine Lake (one of the smaller lakes near Farewell Lake not too far from Rohn) called her by Sat Phone and said they had seen Donald Kane and Bill Dent passing trough there and they were looking good.
There are a few more racers expected to finish in McGrath in the early morning hours Janice Tower., Joe Pollock, Harald Schiff and Sean Grady.

Ride on and you will be in McGrath soon and get to experience the most wonderful food and warm hospitality in Peter and Tracey's house. There is always food available there at any hour.

I was there two years ago welcoming racers at the finish line.It was great to sit around the table and listen to all their trail stories.

After riding in the cold for several days in the remote wilderness of Alaska,a comfortable bed and endless food at the finish line, is heavenly.

Great accomplishment to all that finish the 350 mile race! Good night all.

Kathi M.


Ausilia Vistarini and Sebastiano Favaro have arrived at the finish line in McGrath as well.
Super job all of this years racers!

8:20 pm

Tracey Petervary arrives in McGrath at 4:20 PM this afternoon. Congratulations Tracey! Off to Nome soon.

March 4, 5:00 PM

Racers are just stop and go at Nikolai this afternoon, just a pit stop and they are back out on the trail. We know this group had stopped to rest 30 miles from Nikolai at the Bear Creek shelter cabin.

On their last strech of 50 miles to McGrath are tonight Harald Schiff, Sean Grady, Janice Tower and Joe Pollock.
Way to go!

Way to go. It has taken the lead group of bikers between 9-11 hours to cover the stretch of trail between Nikolai and McGrath.

Kathi M.

March 4, 4:00 PM

Daniele Modolo arrives in McGrath at 1:01 PM followed by Aidan Harding at 1:09 PM.
Both came in just under the 5 day mark. Congratulations!

Aidan Harding and Jay Petervary are two of the racers that have reached McGrath and they are planning to ride to Nome this year, another 750 miles on the Southern Route. From them McGrath is just onother checkpoint. For the rest it is the finish line.

The next racers we expect in McGrath are Tracey Petervary, Ausilia Vistarini and Sebastiano Favaro.

March 4, 12:15 PM

Updates from Puntilla/Rainy Pass Lodge came in this morning.

Cookie, Savino, Andy our only skier left in the race and Shawn arrived last night. They all left the checkpoint and were heading over the pass this morning.

Still on the trail to Puntilla are Jimmy and Klaus.
I am sure they also stopped at Mike & Ingrid's cabin halfway and got a boost to continue on into the foothills of the Alaska Range.

Kathi M.

March 4, 11:14 AM

Steve Wilkinson arrives in 12th place this morning in 4 days 20 hours 49 minutes. Aidan must have bivvied on the way, he only stopped for 4 hours in Nikolai, so he needed a bit more rest before continuing on.

March 4, 11:00 AM

Aidan Harding,Daniele Modolo,Steve Wilkinson and Tracey Petervary have left the Nikolai checkpoint and are on their way to McGrath. Aidan might be in McGrath now, Steve should be getting there soon and Daniele and Tracey should get there later this late afternoon and evening.

Arrived in Nikolai this AM have Ausilia Vistarini and Sebastiano Favaro. They left Nikolai at 9:30 AM this morning and should arrive in McGrath by this evening.

Kathi M.

March 4, 9:05 AM

Bill Merchant our trail braker returned to Rohn this morning. He saw Ausilia and Sebastiano about 15 miles out of Nikolai. He also stopped at the Bear Creek Cabin.

Janice Tower, Joe Pollock, Sean Grady and Harald Schiff were there.
Piera Damonte and Mark Ruda were about 5-6 miles out of Rohn this morning.
Tim and Loreen Hewitt are leading the foot division, they had bivvied near Farewell Lake and are on the move again.
Eric Johnson, Donald Kane,Bill Dent, Alex Casanovas, and Jerym Brunton are also out of Rohn.

The last 6 racers yet to arrive in Puntilla at the halfwaymark are: Cookie, Savino, Jimmy, Shawn, Andy St., and Klaus.

Kathi M.

March 3, 10:18 PM

One last report for tonight.

Arrived in Nikolai: Tracey Petervary, Steve Wilkinson, Aidan Harding

In & Out of Puntilla: Billy Koitzsch*( continuing on the trail outside the race)

In Rohn: Piera Damonte, Mark Ruda, Bill Dent, Donald Kane

The rest of the raceers are on the trail somewhere between the ckeckpoints.

Tonight on the fourth day of the race 11 racers have finished the 350 mile race in McGrath.

I am sure they are all well fed at Peter & Tracey Schneiderheinze's house, himself an Ex roadbike racer. He has been hosting racers there since 1998 and also Nick, Olene and Stephanie in Nikolai have been hosting the racers at their house for over a decade now.

Thanks to you all of you wonderful people we can organize such a suberb event with wonderful checkpoints.

Thanks to all the lodges, road houses and cabin owners, trail travellers,checkers, trail breakers, trappers, helpers at the starting line, behind the scenes and off and on the trail, all of you who in some way or another support this unique race.

I hope I didn't for get anyone.

Thanks to you ALL. Good night. Let's hope all the racers are safe out there tonight.

Kathi M.

March 3, 8:30 PM

Race rookies Brian Hartman and Mark Silverman arrive in McGrath at 6:20 pm in 10th place, 4 days 4 hours 20 minutes. Congratulations!

Steve Wilkinson and Aidan Harding were in only racers currently in Nikolai.
Tim and Loreen Hewitt are leading in the foot division. They arrived before NOON today and were still resting in Rohn.

Jerym Brunton and Eric Johnson had left Puntilla, but they are not in Rohn yet.

Cookie, Savino, James and Shawn had left Fingerlake today, but are not in Puntilla yet this evening. They must have stopped at Mike & Ingrid's cabin on Finbear Lake which is halfway between Fingerlake and Puntilla. Klaus was in Fingerlake this afternoon.

March 3, 4:46 PM

Lance Andre and Bill Shand arrive in McGrath at 4:10PM in 8th place. Congrats to you both!

March 3, 3:25 pm

Jay Petervary arrives at 2:45 pm and Bill Fleming at 3:13 PM this afternoon 6th and 7th place, both in just over four days. Congratulations Jay and Bill!

Jay Petervary is heading to Nome another 750 miles after McGrath with his wife Tracey again on the Southern Route.
Jay and Tracey finishished the 1100 mile race together last year with Tracey setting a new female record in the 1100 mile distance. We are still waiting for Tracey to arrive in Nikoali.
Tracey was the first female racer of the 350 mile and 1100 mile race last year.
Jay is kicking off his No Idle Tour of 7000 miles with the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Good luck to you both!

Kathi M.

March 3, 2:00 PM

Louise Kobin arrived in McGrath at 12:20 PM this afternoon setting a new female course record in the 350 mile race of 3 days 22 hours and 20 minutes. Congratulations Lou! She ist in 4th position overall!! She shaved almost 20 hours off Tracey Petervary's record from last year.

Louise Kobin at the finish in McGrath
Louise Kobin at the finish in McGrath today.


March 3, 10:30 AM

Rohn updates are posted now on the leaderbaord. No runners have arrived in Rohn as of 9:47 AM.

23 bikers are through Rohn by this morning.

Fingerlake/Winterlake Lodge and Rainy Pass Lodge/Puntilla updates are on the leaderbaord now.

All bikers, skiers and all but one runner have made it trough the 130 mile mark at Winterlake Lodge this morning. Our last racers is Klaus Schweinberger, but he is going strong like all of our racers this year. We have had very few scratches so far. Just a phenomenal year on the trail with an amazing group of athletes!

Billy Koitzsch is back on the course ( flew back to Skwentna) and riding the trail again. He will not be an offical finisher this year, but we will keep track of him on our website.
Billy and 9 other racers are planning to ride to Nome this year and they all have put a lof of training and effort into this.

Kathi M.

March 3, 9:00 AM

Rookie Greg Matyas finishes in third place at 2:20 AM. Well done Greg!!

Out of Nikolai this morning are Lou Kobin who is on record pace to take the women's record and could be under 4 days finishing time.
Also out of Nikolai are Eric Warkentin, Bill Fleming Brian H. Mark S. Lance A. Jay P. Bill Shand. We expect them to ride into the finish line in McGrath in 10-11 hours from their departure from Nikolai.
Temperature in Nikolai and McGrath this morning is -20 F.

Check out the pictueres by our fans in McGrath here on facebook this evening. Awesome!!

March 2, 9:30 PM

Jeff and Pete
I took this image at the start of this year's race on Sunday.

Jeff Oatley finishes only 25 minutes behind Pete in second place, just like last year only they were 33 minutes apart. Amazing for such a long race. Congratulations Pete and Jeff!!

March 2, 8:50 PM

Pete Basinger

Pete arrives in McGrath at 8:30 pm in 3 days 6 hours and 30 minutes. This is Pete's 5th win. Amazing finish Pete. Congratulations!!

I am waiting to get some pictures from McGrath when Pete arrived just a little while ago.There was a crowd of about 25 people cheering Pete into town. Some of them were his students from McGrath where Pete is teaching since last year.

finish line mcgrath
This sign was put up by his students in McGrath earlier in the day.

March 2 6:15 PM

Pete Basinger was seen 20 miles out from McGrath at 4:00 PM. There hasn't been a lot of traffic on the trail since the big snow between Nikolai and McGrath. He has a big crowd waiting for him in McGrath and he is expected between 7:30 and 8:00PM.

I have got a sat phone call from Rohn. The leaderboard is updated with the information I got from Rob. Rohn is one of the toughest checkpoints to manage with a wall tent and not much else there. He has to haul water form the river, heat meals for the racers etc. Great job Rob!

This is how Loreen's time in Puntilla compares to last year. Wow she is fast this year.

Puntilla in and out times:

2010 Loreen Hewitt foot           3/3        in 7:48 PM                 3/4        out 4:15 AM
2011 Loreen Hewitt foot           3-2        in 1:15 PM                3-2        out 4:45 PM

Nikolai checkpoint stats:

2010 Tracey Petervary bike 3-6 in 12:00 AM out 3-5 2:00 am
2011 Louise Kobin bike 3-2 in 6:45 pm

Wow! Loreen and Louise, you are both on record pace.


March 2, 4:40 PM

I had almost forgotten in all the race exitement and things going on here at HQ that Pete Basinger almost didn't start because the flights were cancelled on Thursday and Friday before the race. He made it into Anchorage by Saturday just a day before the race. That makes it the more amazing that he made the start and is now on a racord shattering pace.


March 2, 4:18 PM

We wait, wait wait. No news from Rohn. The checkpoint our small wall tent must be full with races resting, eating, sleeping.

I just found out through Craig Medred's article whay Tracey Petervary is further back in the field than expected. She did a loop leaving from the Winterlake Lodge checkpoint. Here is the story on Alaska Dispatch. Making wrong turns in this race happens every year. But they happen in different places every year. Because this trail presents something different every year. This one is becaus there is the Iditarod Trail used by dogs and the Iron Dog trail used by machines (snowmobiles) a week prior to our event.

The Iditarod Trail is an imaginary line on a map until it is used by Iron Dog, Iditarod and the Invitational race.

Then it depends who puts in the trail and which way they go, where the river ice is good and where it is thin. Where they go around obstacles on the trail.

Several rookies made a mistake the first night because someone had cleared and packed the historid Iditarod Trail. Craig Medred wrote a story about that as well in the Dispatch.

This race is not easy even in a year with perfect trail conditions and weather.

The trail is not marked for racers. Trail navigation is part of the race and part of the adventure and the core group of racers that comes every year would not have it any other way. Rookies pay their dues and sometimes even race veterans make a mistake. Many years ago Bill Merchant made the same mistake on this historic section of trail shortly after leaving Knik Lake and there are many more trail stories of Bill Merchant and how he learned this trail and country out there on the Iditarod Trail. It is never the same twice.

Stay tuned. I hope to get more updates this evening.

Kath M.

March 2, 1:45 PM

No word from Rohn yet. I am waiting for a Sat Phone call. Long distance phone in Nikolai was out earlier. I will get news via email from there. Klaus is in the Red Lantern position in Skwentna this afternoon. He plans to continue on to Shell Lake Lodge or Winterlake Lodge CP3 tomorrow around noon.

Awaiting new from Rohn too. There were no updates from Rohn pre Sat Phones. So please be patient with the race organisation here. This is remote ccountry out there. From the Painy Pass Lodge at Puntilla Lake near Rainy Pass in the Alaska Range to the small settlement on the Kuskokwim River with 90 people in Nikolai there is virtually no habitation, no permanent settlement and that's about 135 miles.

The Rohn roadhouse ( BLM public use shelter cabin, rented by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race this time of year) is only occupied during the Iditarod Trail races.

I will post when I get calls.

Just pondering over Loreen Hewitt's time. She set a new women's record on foot in 2008, then bettered that by about 4 hours last year and left the Fingerlake/Winterlake Lodge CP 3 10 hours earlier than last year.

Another record this year?

Kathi M.

March 2, 11:00 AM

More updates from Puntilla/Rainy Pass Lodge the 4th checkpoint this AM.

Janice T. Joe P. Tracey P. Ausilia V. Sebastiano F. Daniele M. Harald Sch. Sean G. and Steve W have all left Puntilla early in the AM and are heading over the pass, another difficult section of trail. They climb up to Rainy Pass at 3000 feet in the Alaska Range is known for notorious winds that have turned back racers and sometimes even mushers in the past.

But this year the wind only got our trail brakers Bill Merchant, Rob Kehrer and OE. When they broke trail through the pass on Friday and Saturday prior to the race they had 65 mph winds on the pass.

The racers got lucky this year, the trail over the pass must be good for the front runners.

The Dalzell Gorge known for treacherous ice briges and open spots on the Dalzell Creek is good.

Also the Tatina River is good this year, it's got snow on it, somwtimes it is windblown and icy for our cyclists who don't have studded tires only fat tires 4 inches wide. Also no overflow reported so far.

An amazing year on the trail and great trail conditions, nice weather.

The race is going well for bikers, runners and skiers this year. Just a great year on the trail.

In the foot devision Tim and Loreen and Eric J. have left the third checkpoint yesterday evening.

I expect our checker at the Rohn tent camp is busy feeing and taking care of racers this morning. I hope I get a Sat Phone call this afternoon from Rob.

The reports between Rohn and Nikolai can be far apart. It is 80 miles from Rohn to Nikolai. The leaders will go through all the way. Some racers may stop at the Bear Creek public use cabin at mile 50. Bill Merchant broke a trail out to it. It is one mile off the main trail. No one had made a trail to it since the new snow. He also told me that contrary to rumors Bison Camp was still intact and racers could stop there as well. Bison Camp is a hunting tent camp, it is unoccupied at this time. Bison Camp is right on the trail halfway between Rohn and Nikolai.

Kathi M.

March 2, 9:54 AM

Pete Basinger left Nikolai at 9:40 AM this morning.

I am having trouble reaching the checkpoints, no answer or busy phones. I spoke with Zoe at Shell Lake Lodge, not a checkpoint, but a place to stop for racers. Andy Stearns left there this morning at 7:30 AM.

Can't reach Puntilla this morning either. Craig Medred sent me an e-mail throught the internet connection this morning, the checkpoint was currently empty there. Racers should be arriving in Rohn. I can't call there. We have a Sat Phone there. I have to wait until our checker Rob calls me from there. When he is busy heating up food for racers in our 10x12 foot Wall Tent he will be too busy for that. All our checkpoints and other stops such as Luce's, Shell Lake Lodge, Mike and Ingrid at Finbear are doing an amazing job feeding racers and taking care of them.
We are so lucky to have all these wonderful places, lodge owners and people that live along this route.

I expect Cookie, Savino, Shawn and Jimmy left Skwentna this morning and are making their way towards Fingerlake today. Klaus had left Yentna Station at midnight, he should be in Skwentna by today and on to Shell Lake Lodge.

Mike Curiak, our biking photographer was in Fingerlake last night, Alaska Dispatch reporter Craig Medrad was in Puntilla this AM, Rich Crain, our checker in Yentna had moved on to Fingerlake and Bill Merchant our trail braker had left Nikolai at 8:00 AM.

March 2 8:00 AM

Pete arrives in Nikolai mile 300 at 7:30 AM. Way to go Pete. 2:00PM this afternoon is only three days. If he leaves by 9:00 AM and pounds out the last 50 miles in 8 hours, gets in by 5:00PM he could break his own record by over 2 hours.
It all depens on the trail conditions from Nikilai to McGrath. Bill called me from Nikolai and he said that there was a lot of snow in Nikolai this year.

I will post more updates as soon as I check in with all the other checkpoints this morning.

Kathi M.

I posted images I took of some of the racers at the Skwentna roadhouse on Sunday and Monday here at facebook:

March 1 8:30 PM

Some of the missing data is from racers not signing into the check sheet at the checkpoint. But I sometimes miss a couple when I transfer from phone call to a list an on to the PC. Yentna is wrapped up now and Klaus Schweinberger plans to leave there by midnight and head up the trail to Skwentna. All the racers still on the trail are in good spirits and are making good progress at this time.

Kathi M.

March 1 7:15 pm

First runners are in Fingerlake in just over 48 hours into the race. Tim Hewitt and Loreen leading in the foot devision. They are very fast this year as well. We had another Scratch, Kim Kittredge from Palmer, Alaska. Sad to hear as well that you had knee troubles also. Hope to see all of you that had to drop out so far back again next year.

So far 11 racers have made it into Puntilla, 7 so far have left Puntilla. Way to go bikers!

Klaus is in the red lantern position and was having breakfast this morning at Luce's Lodge with our checker who had come down 6 miles the Yentna River to see where the last person was. Some racers took the old Iditarod Trail that someone has been cutting out and packed with snowmobiles this year, so when the trail ended some back tracked, some had to use snow shoes and made much slower progress than others. From reports I heard Jimmy Haigh and Shawn McTaggert, Cookie and Savino took this trail. But they are all fine and moving up the trail towards Skwentna now.


March 1 5:20 pm

There are more updates now on the leaderboard. I am back in business now with the reporting. All is going well with the race. Only 4 scratches so far. That is really good just over 2 days into the race. Pete is leading the race and heading towards Nikolai already. He left Rohn at noon today. In second place is now Bill Fleming. These bikers are setting a blazing pace on the trail this year!

Jay P. and Jeff O. are in third position and left Rohn together at 3:30 PM this afternoon.
Lou, Eric and Greg M. were still resting in Rohn at 5:00 PM today. I don't have their arrival times, since we only have a Sat Phone where the updates are very brief.

Louise Kobin racing her third year on the Iditarod Trail is setting a blazing pace. In Puntilla she was over a day ahead of her own pace and a day of Tracey Petervary's pace when Tracey set a new woman's record.Can Louise set a new woman's record? It is all up to what trail conditions are like from Nikolai to McGrath and whether the bikers can continue this incredible pace.

I hope to get a call from Nikolai tonight with Pete's arrival there.

Kathi M.

March 1 2:45 pm

I flew out of Skwentna at 10 AM back to Willow. Then drove 80 miles.Just got back to a frozen cabin and 200 yards of my driveway that I can't get in. There is 10 inches of new snow. So I have to snowblow later. Sorry for the lack of updates. But I have got a lot going on. My cabin is cold, I have to start a fire, warm it up here, then I will be back on my laptop here. Live in a cabin in Alaska. A tree fell while I was gone, destroyed Bill's tool shed. I am glad it wasn't the outhouse at we feared. I have to check later to see what the damage is. It is a big cottonwood tree. Race fans, friends and family hang in there, I will get the updates as soon as I get the cabin warmed up and get back online.

Rocky Reifenstuhl emailed me yesterday that he pulled out of the race the first day. He is fine. I forgot to mention that, I was very busy.


Kathi M.

March 1 6:00 AM

By the beginning of the 3rd day of the race racers are spread out along the trail over 200 miles. Peter Basinger is leading the race into the Alaska Range more than halfway down the trail followed by JayPetervary, Jeff Oatley and Bill Fleming last night. The Fingerlake checkpoint was very busy last night. I will check in with them shortly.

After being up for nearly 2 days, I got some rest last night.

Several racers left the Skwentna checkpoint yesterday afternoon and last night. Some were planning to overnight at Shell Lake Lodge, 20 miles beyond Skwentna. Our foot racers Tim and Loreen Hewitt arrived last night and left early this morning.

Unfortunately there are 2 scratches at this point by 2 race veterans, Billy Koitzsch said his knees were giving him trouble and John Ross from England fell on a hill and sprained his shoulder. Sad to hear this. We wish both of you a quick recovery.

They will both be flying out to Willow with me this afternoon to Willow.

A few more racers arrived in Yentna last night. Cookie, Savino and Klaus had not arrived yet when I talked to our checker Rich Crain in Yentna last night.

James Haigh and Shawn McTaggert had arrived there a t9:40 pm.

Kathi M.

Feb 28 2:37 PM

Defending champ Peter Basinger is once again leading the race. It looks like he could be into Puntilla around the same time he did in 2007 when he set the racord. He was in Puntilla in 24 hours that year. His chaser is Jay Petervary who had been leading the race into Skwentna early Monday morning. Next into Fingerlake were Jeff Oatley and rookie Greg Matyas.

Louise Kobin from California was leading the women's field and left Skwentna early this morning.

Janice Tower is also back on the trail with Joe Pollock.

Defending both her titles in the 350 mile and 1100 mile Tracey Petervary from Wyoming on the way to Fingerlake currently.
Italian singlespeeder Ausilia Vistarini have also left Skwentna.


Feb. 28 1:35 AM

Jay Petervary is first into Skwentna, CP2. He is the first one back on the trail by 1:00 AM. Pete Basinger and Jeff Oatley leave two minutes later chasing after Jay.

The trails are hard-packed and fast. They had a stiff head wind for about 15 miles on the river. Temperature currently at the roadhouse here in Skwentna is 2F. The wind has let off some.

Greg Matyas and Lance Andre are currently resting in Skwentna.I haven't been able to get through by phone to Yentna Station, but my guess is more bikers have checked in and out of Yentna Station.


February 27th, 2011 9:40 pm

Wow, the trail is fast. 5 bikers in and out of Yentna Station by 8:06 pm.
Jay P. Jeff O. Peter B. Lance A. and Greg M.

That means they covered 60 miles in 6 yours, they are averaging 10 mph so far. That is 2 hours faster than last year so far.
We expect them here at the 2nd checkpoint between 11:00PM and midnight.

Keep track of the racers here at our leaderboard.

Kathi M.

February 27th, 2011

The race started under sunny skies at 2:00 PM. 44 racers left the starting line. I flew into the Skwentna checkpoint with Denali Flying Service from Willow. I have posted some pictures from the start this afternoon here. If you were at the start and have pictures you can post them to our Flickr Account or on our facebook page. Based on last years times we should have some updates from Yentna Station ( mile 60) our first checkpoint between 9:00-10:00 PM tonight.

I am reporting from the Skwentna checkpoint this year for the first couple of days. I expect to see the leaders to come into the 2nd checkpoint around 2:00-3:00 AM Monday morning.


February 23, 2011

denali flying service

Hello All,
             One last update before I head out on the Trail in the morning.
Made it to Finger Lake on Sunday with our drops but bad weather kept us out of Puntilla and Rohn. Made it to both places yesterday so all the drops and Rohn camp are in place. It was a beautiful day in Rohn -2 F and calm with probably 18 " / 45cm of snow on the ground. The Gorge looked okay with the normal amount of open water. We had to stay high in the Pass because of high winds and turbulence but from what I could tell the snow pack was about average and I didn't see any slide activity or major wind loading. One of the Iron Dog checkers said there is good snow cover through the New Burn.
            I was told there is a lot of snow in the interior and very windy. The lead pack for the Iron Dog smowmobile race was stuck in 6 foot drifts on the Northern route between Ophir and Ruby.
            No current news on conditions from this end of the trail but it has been windy so I expect a lot of drifting. I will try to  call Kathi with an on site trail report just before the pre race meeting.
            Tomorrow I head out on the Iditarod Trail. Whether on skis, foot, bike or breaking trail with a machine it is the Trail and culture that comes alive this time of year that has pulled me back out there for the past 13 years. In all that time the trail has never been the same twice. Part of the fun is trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to guess what it will be like before the race start.
            I am looking forward to seeing all of you on the Trail. For those of you who don't know me I will be the old guy in the fur hat with bad eyes riding a black Skidoo so be sure and don't forget your reflective markings on your clothes and gear.
             All the very best of luck to each and every one of you. Be safe out there and have a great race!!!!!!!

February 18, 2011

Following this years race

Race fans, friends,family and co-workers can stay informed during the race on this website on latest news, leaderboard our Facebook page on Twitter.We will also have the message board up again where folks can post messages for the racers.

We encourage folks that come out to the start next Sunday and people along the trail, if you have pictures or video of the racers coming htrough to post on our facebook page or on our FLICKR Photo page.

The UK based Adventure Racing Website will feature daily race updates again this year.

Quite a bit a snow fell in the Mat-Su Valley less near Point McKenzie and up on the Yentna River near Luces. The Susitna 100 race starts tomorrow morning at Point McKenzie.Good luck to everyone.

We will be collecting drop bags tomorrow by noon at Alaska European B&B in Anchorage.


February 2, 2011

Hello All,

Anchorage runner and racer Anne Ver Hoef and trail groomer/checker Michael Schoder are hosting a pre race dinner at their house on Thursday, February 24th at 6:30 PM.
Contact Anne for directions and transportation.

Greg Matyas is offering a pre race party at the Speedway Bike Shop in Anchorage again on Friday, February 25th at 6:30 PM. All racers are invited .Location:  2600 Spenard Road  Anchorage

Looking forward seeing everyone.


January 25th, 2011


Hello All,

In just over a month we will be back on the Trail for the 10th annual Iditarod Trail Invitational. I have been in contact with some of our checkpoints this morning. Folks from Nikolai have been working hard to get the trail put back in near Farewell lake where the fire this summer destroyed it. The fire was so hot it burned all the organics out of the soil and left a tangled mess of roots where the trail used to be. Suspended seat posts might not be a bad idea for the 26 miles of what has always been a historically rough section of trail.

Word from Puntilla is low snow and a lot of brush on the trail. Iron Dog teams have made it as far as Hells Gate after having problems earlier with ice on the Happy River. Carl at Winter Lake Lodge said he had 35 inches of snow and the trails are good. Up until this last little bit of snow Michael Schoder said the trail up the Yentna to Skwentna was hard as concrete.


Skwentna Roadhouse has changed hands.Skwentna Roadhouse website We will miss having Bonnie's smiling face to greet us but the new owners sound excited to host our race. In the past Bonnie didn't charge racers for sleeping only for meals but that has changed. The price for a bed will be $28.00, breakfast $10.50 - $12.50, and dinner will be $15.00.


The lodges and homes that serve as our checkpoints are critical to the race. Smiles, thanks and tips go a long ways to ensuring they will continue to host us.

No bikes, skis or sleds are allowed in checkpoints
. For all of you with screws or studs in your shoes don't forget to remove them at the door of all checkpoints to avoid scratching up the floors.

Dave at Luce's Lodge which is 9 miles before our Yentna Station checkpoint said he will be open until 9pm for racers needing to grab a bite to eat. Racers can also make advance reservations for a room if they like.

      Drop bags are due by Saturday Feb. 19th. They can be dropped off or mailed to Alaska European B&B or to us in Chickaloon. Drops are for expendables only and should be packed in stuff sacks or contractor grade plastic sacks which are easier to pack in the small plane used to fly them in.

Drops for Iditarod are due at the same time since the are shipped to McGrath then flown out to the trail from there. For new Nome racers don't forget folks have had to bivy for as long as 5 days waiting for the trail to be put in on the Southern route so don't leave McGrath too light on food and fuel. 

Rob Kehrer (our Rohn checker) and I will head out on the 24th to put in the trail over the Pass and the Dalzell Gorge.

I will miss all of you in Anchorage at the pre race. Kathi will be there to do the pre race.

Bill M.


January 21, 2011

Mike Curiak's film part III of his self-supported ride to Nome in 2010. Amazing footage and photography Mike!



January 18, 2011

Best Western Golden Lion Hotel
1000 East 36th Ave
corner of the New Seward Highway and 36th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99508

$79.99 special price for racers, mention Alaska Ultra Sport when you make your reservation!

The rooms at the Golden Lion Best Western Hotel are large with two Queen beds in it for 2 racers to share the cost.
They also let racers take their bikes into the rooms.

The pre race meeting will be there on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 @ 2:00-4:00 PM in the Lounge on the 2nd floor.

The bus to the race start takes off at the Golden Lion Hotel on Sunday Feb. 27 @ 11:00 AM. The location is about 5 minutes from Alaska European B&B.

Hope all your training is going well.

We are currently in a deep freeze again here in Alaska with temperatures well below 0 the last few days.

Kathi Merchant

January 9, 2011

Mike Curiak icon of the Human Powered Iditarod has put his 15 years of experience on the Iditarod Trail to good use producing a video of his unprecedented 2010 self-supported journey to Nome.
Using nothing but his bicycle and a point and shoot camera Mike does a wonderful job taking us along on his expedition from the warmth and security of our living rooms.

Enjoy The Ride

part II

January 8, 2011

Happy New Year everyone!
We hope you had enjoyable holidays and got outside fro training and testing gearin the snow.

Pen Air is offering their special rate again for our racers returning to Anchorage from McGrath at a one way fare of $183.00 per person. They offer one daily flight Monday- Saturday. They may add a flight on March 6 due to higher demands during Iditarod.
Departure McGrath: 9:45 AM Arrival in Anchorage: 10:45 AM.

Racers don't need advance reservations for those flights. But you need your identification and you can pay by credid card as well as cash or check.

Happy travels and good luck with training.

Kathi M.

December 8, 2010

For those of you making arrangements for accomodations in Anchorage. Irene has a new email. There is a dot between irene and may now. Her new e-mail is
Irene is fluent in Dutch, German, Italian, French, and Swiss, and she also speaks some Spanish.

Please contact her if you are planning on staying at her B&B before and after the race again.

european alaskan bnb

3107 Cottonwood Street Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Irene May
Phone (907) 258-2746

The other option is

Best Western logo

Best Western Golden Lion Hotel
1000 East 36th Ave
corner of the New Seward Highway and 36th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99508

The rooms at the Golden Lion Best Western Hotel are large with two Queen beds in it for 2 racers to share the cost.
They also let racers take their bikes into the rooms.

The pre race meeting will be there on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 @ 2:00-4:00 PM in the Lounge on the 2nd floor.

The bus to the race start takes off at the Golden Lion Hotel on Sunday Feb. 27 @ 11:00 AM.
The location is about 5 minutes from theAlaska European B&B.

November 29, 2010

Hello All,

I just read an article by Craig Medred .
It makes me feel like I was just kicked in the belly by a horse and thought I would share it with all of you. I understand the Iditarod trail I first saw in 1998 was a far cry from the one that the first Iditarod mushers faced on stretches of the trail resurrected from decades of little or no use.
What I did see though was an adventure for human powered racers worth preserving that has become a passion for me. I have been on the trail for the last 13 years either as a racer or trail breaker. I have made bad decisions, wrong turns, been disoriented in blizzards and had my ass kicked badly as a trail breaker on Rainy Pass but never once have I felt the need for an "improved" Iditarod Trail.
I have held my ground all these years against the "gentle folk" who would have me change our race to make it more visible, more suited to the average "adventure tourist" and more profitable but I have lost every time I tried to prevent more urbanization of the trail by the powers that be ie: more markings, shelter cabins etc.
In the trail user meetings organized by the BLM and attended by Alaska Ultra Sport, Iditarod, Iron Dog and the Serum Run I am known as an anti-progressive when it comes to sanitizing the Trail and when decisions about improvements are announced they just look at me, smile and say, "I know this won't make you happy Bill but---."

When you compare the measly few thousand dollars our race brings to Alaska to the bone Donlin can toss the state I guess the writing is on the wall.
Hello Iditarod Highway. I am really not looking forward to going to McGrath on a pipeline pad.
Hope you're getting out and having some fun.
Bill M.


November 23, 2010

Hello All,

We hope all of you are doing well and are ready for winter. Kathi and I have expanded our guiding to include mountain biking in southern Utah and northern Arizona in spring and fall. We have enjoyed a great fall riding in the desert but are looking forward to winter riding in Alaska when we return.
I recently heard from Mark Nordman the Iditarod race manager that the fire that burned part of the trail beyond Rohn last year flared back up this summer and burned 26 miles of the trail and even burned down Farewell Lodge. Iditarod sent a crew to begin clearing all the fallen trees from the trail earlier this fall and will soon send in another crew to finish the job. I will post more on trail conditions when the reports come in.
Those of you who would like to stay at Alaska European B&B while you are in Anchorage should contact Irene by email at for your reservations.
The BLM has built a few more shelter cabins along the route to Nome. Map and GPS coordinates found here in PDF.

We hope training is going well for all of you and look forward to seeing you in February.


September 15th, 2010

fall in Alaska

Hello All,

The Fall colors here in Chickaloon are at their peak. A sure sign summer has come and gone. I guess the only way to explain what happened to our Alaskan summer is "Time flys when you are having fun!"
Kathi and I have had a great if a bit wet summer guiding season. Our guided trips took us from camping with the big brown bears of Katmai in southwest Alaska to watching the Caribou migration in Gates of the Arctic National Park north of the arctic circle and many places in between. We feel lucky to have Alaska as our playground and our workplace. Now with cool mornings and a frosting of new snow up high it's time to get ready for what I hope will be a real Alaskan winter. Plenty of snow with a good mix of clear and really cold to set up the trails and keep it interesting. As all the vets know I will be sending out my by now infamous trail reports as soon as the trail grapevine sends them to me. There may be terms like "knee deep river wide overflow", open water and glare ice in the gorge", "they blew the trail up so bad you can hide a volkswagon in the craters" . The conditions reported from The Trail on any given day may or may not exist during the race but you never know. Before all of the "From the Trail" reports begin here is a link to the latest attempt to "urbanize / civilize" The Trail.
Just as every year around this time we begin looking forward to seeing all of you both local and from around the world, old friends and new. We have another good field of competitors for the 2011 race which includes a tough group of trail hardened veterans and a strong field of rookies. February seems a long way off right now but I suspect just like summer that time will fly by and race time will be here before we know it. I will be on the trail this year helping put in the trail over Rainy Pass and through the Dalzel Gorge. I should see most of you somewhere on the trail. Kathi will be race central keeping friends and fans up to date with your progress from a location yet to be decided. She will get to see all of you at the pre race and starting line and hopefully from somewhere on the trail.
As always if any of you have questions don't hesitate to ask.

We hope all of you have a colorful fall and even better winter.
Bill and Kathi

July 7, 2010

Hello All,

We have finished the first two guided trips here in Alaska and are getting settled into our summer routine. Yesterday I took some relaxation time and read Craig Medred's book Graveyard of Dreams, Dashed Hopes and Shattered Aspirations Along Alaska's Iditarod Trail. I didn't close the book until I was finished. He did a great job presenting the history, geography, weather and the people that make the Trail what it is to all of us. The story is about the dog race but take away the dogs and it could have been written about all of us who come back year after year to enjoy life in its simplest form eating, drinking, sleeping, moving, facing and hopefully overcome the challenges the Trail throws our way. The book made me want to be back on the trail today! If any of you are interested you can find the book at Palmer Fireside Books or at

graveyard of dreams

I hope all of you are having a great summer.


April 24, 2010

Today we have published the 2011 race roster and waiting list.

March 27, 2010

Hello All,

On April 1st registration for 2011 begins for previous McGrath finishers. We will have 45 places open for veteran racers with 3 of those going to the winners of this year’s race. There will be at least 5 places available for new racers beginning April 8th. An email will hold your place until you can send your entry form and fee by mail. Kathi and I will be out of state but will check our email and phone messages daily.
The roster will be posted after we return to Alaska. As most of you already understand the Iditarod Trail in many places is just an imaginary line on the map for most of the year. It takes the work of a lot of local people and trail crews every winter to make the trail a reality. The Iron Dog snowmachine race that starts before we do crosses the Alaska Range through Ptarmigan Pass but some of their support crew used to work on the gorge and the Pass after their race and often a few bison hunters preceded our race over the Alaska Range. Until the past 3 years trail breaking for us has been more re-breaking the trail than actually putting in the trail over Rainy Pass and the Dalzel Gorge. More recently the Rohn checkers for Iditarod teamed up with our Rohn checker Rob Kerher to try to make it happen. Now it is our turn to step up and do more to put in the Iditarod Trail. This doesn’t mean we can promise a broken trail over the Pass ahead of the race every year. The Iditarod Trail and Mother Nature often laugh at our well thought out plans but we are going to do our best. I have just purchased two wide track trailbreaking snowmachines to have a better chance of getting the job done. The increase in the 2011 entry fees is to help with the costs of purchasing, operating and maintaining the machines. Thank you again for all of you who made this year’s Iditarod Trail Invitational a success and we hope to see many of you back on the Trail in 2011.
Have a Great Summer
Bill M.

March 22, 11:58 PM

Tim Hewitt arrived in Nome at 6:15 PM tonight. His time of 22 days 4 hours and 15 min. is also faster than the previous foot record to Nome. This was Tim's fifth run to Nome and that is a record in itself. There are 6 two time finishers to Nome but Tim is in a class of his own with five finishes. Congratulations Tim!

Tim Hewitt

With our Nome racers all finished the 2010 Iditarod Trail Invitational is now officially done. Congratulations to ALL the finishers and new record holders of this years race.

Kathi M.

March 21, 11:01 AM

At 4:45 AM this morning Tundra Tom Jarding strolled into Nome to break the old foot record to Nome by more than a day and a half. Way to go Tom!!!!!!! With a spirit that just seemed to get stronger every day Tom kept stepping off miles and chatting about what a great trail and how much fun he was having. Called him at Phil's this morning but he was napping. Imagine that! Even Tom needs to rest sometime.

More about his fast run from White Mountain when I hear from him later today. Bill M.

Tom Jarding

Tom Jarding sets a new overall foot record to Nome in 20 days 14 hours and 45 min.

Phil Hofstetter wins the 1100 mile race in 17 days 9 hours and 30 min.
Jay and Tracey Petervary finish in second place.

Tracey Petervary sets new female course record of 18 days 6 hours to Nome.

Peter Basinger claims his fourth victory in the 350 mile race.
Jeff Oatley second place only 33 minutes behind Pete!
New female bike record by Tracey Petervary 4 days 18 hours and 53 min

Pete Basinger jeff oatley tracey petervary
Peter Basinger , Jeff Oatley, Tracey Petervary

Phil Hofstetter in Nome under the burled arch
Phil Hofstetter wins Nome race in 17 days 9 hours 30 min.

Jay and Tracey in Nome under the burled arch
Jay & Tracey Petervary in second place in 18 days 6 hours

March 20, 10:02 AM

Tom Jarding blueberry hills
photo of Tom Jarding in the Blueberry hills by Kevin Keeler

Tom called last night at around 11:00 PM from White Mountain. He was in good spirits and chatty. He had just finished a big meal of caribou before he called. I guess Tom's wife Debbie described best how Tom has sounded on the phone this year, " He sounds like a teenager." He goes on and on how much fun he's having and how good he feels with the exception of the normal wear and tear inflicted by the gazillion steps he's taken so far. Tom stepped into the 70 mile communications black hole this morning on his final leg to Nome. I did see on Craig Medred's tweet that the red lantern mushers passed Tom out of White Mountain. If I hear anything from the trail grapevine I'll pass it on. Go Tom you're on the homestretch now!!

Tim is on the trail out of Koyuk. He sounded more upbeat last night and said his feet issues seem to be improving. I am sure the feet of most mortals would have fallen off long ago if they asked them to walk to Nome 5 times. What Tim has accomplished on the Iditarod Trail goes way beyond my ability to descibe it in words and beyond the comprehension of anyone who hasn't been there. Oh, and by the way Tim along with all your other records it looks like you are going to break my only record----- Oldest Guy to Nome. Now I guess I gotta go back sometime!

Was hoping to hear more from Jay and Tracey before they headed back home but I understand very well "just wanting to get home". Tracy's record shattering finish of 18 days and 6 hours is nothing short of amazing. From their call ins along the trail it was clear they were enjoying a special time together facing and overcoming the challenges of the trail. Rare is the couple who can equally enjoy and share experiences like that. Congratulations to both of you for a great race! Bill M.

March 19, 7:20 PM

Tim Hewitt called from Koyuk. He said the trail has been soft since it warmed up and some snowmachines went over the trail. It has borderline using snowshoes, but he decided not to put on snowshoes. He plans to get some rest and continue on to Elim tonight. We hope to hear from Tom Jarding tonight from White Mountain.

March 18, 11:19 PM

Jay and Tracey Petervary arrive in Nome at 8:00 PM this evening in second place after 18 days and 6 hours on the trail. Tracey's time is a new female overall course record. She is only the second woman to finish the entire course on a bike and the third woman to complete the 1100 mile long trail. We hope to have a picture to post tomorrow under the burled arch.

Tom Jarding is on a record setting pace to Nome. He called from Elim at 8:00 PM.
Tim Hewitt, who is on his fifth run to Nome arrived in Shaktoolik at 6:00 PM.

March 18, 8:19 AM

Phil Hofstetter wins the 1100 mile race!

Last night at 11:30 PM Phil Hofstetter rolled under the burled arch marking the end of the Iditarod Trail to win the 1100 mile race to Nome. Phil's time of 17 days 9 hours and 30 min is the fastest finish since Mike Curiak's Alaska Ultra Sport record set in 2002. Phil is from Nome and has really been cruising since he reached the Coast hurried I am sure by the fact he was going home to his family and friends. Congratulations Phil!!!! Nome and all of us are very proud of you.

Jay called this morning at 6:30 AM as he and Tracy were leaving White Mountain. They had good rest hosted by Andy Havilland the principal of White Mountain School. Andy has been a supporter of our race for many years and racers have always been treated like royalty by everyone there.

Tim called from Unalakleet just after 5:00 PM. He arrived just 5 minutes after the Post Office closed and was unable to retrieve his drop box. He planned to try to find enough supplies to get him to Koyuk where he sent his next drop and get back on the trail.

I expect to hear from Tom sometime this morning when he arrives in Koyuk.

Bill M.

March 17, 12:38 PM

Phil called from White Mountain at 12:15 PM. He planned to eat, grab a few supplies and hit the trail for Nome. Just 70 miles from home I am sure Phil is smelling the barn and excited to get back to his wife and baby. The trail leaves White Mountain and climbs back up in the mountains crossing a notorious " blowhole" in the Topkok Montains. Dropping out of the mountains back to the coast he will pass the Topkok shelter cabin where many trail travelers mushers and our racers have had to "hole up" sometimes for days because of hurricane force winds and blowing snow in the Salomon blowhole. This wind phenomenon creates a white wall so dense and distinct it looks as if you could stand in front of it and stick you hand in and out. I hope the winds are kind to Phil and all the other racers behind him.

Tom Jarding called in from Shaktoolik this morning at 12:15 AM. His wife Debbie said he was feeling good except for a few blisters. A little rest and food and he was headed back out to cross the ice into Koyuk. Tom is still on course to break the Northern route foot record.

Craig Medred tweeted that Tim Hewitt and Mike Curiak who is headed for Nome self supported were just passed Old Woman cabin on their way to Unalakleet this morning.

While I was writing this Jay called to report he and Tracy left Koyuk at 3:00 AM and arrived in Elim at 10:15 AM and were getting ready to ride back out into a blue bird day with hard fast trails on their way to White mountain. Tracy is on pace to break the female record to Nome by several days.

on the trail near Elim looking out at the Bering Sea

March 16, 8:55 PM

Phil arrived in Koyuk at 9:40 AM this morning. Jay and Tracey followed him in at 4:15 PM Phil was still in Koyuk but left right after they arrived. They had a great ride across the sea ice. It was a sunny blue bird day. They are enjoying the hospitality of the coastal villages. Koyuk is a beautiful village and a welcome sight after the long stretch of sea ice. We stayed in the school there in 2008, a great modern building where we had showers, the use of the kitchen and a place to sleep in the library. From Koyuk they will head out across lagoons and more sea ice on their way to Elim. There is the Kwik n' Creek shelter cabin on the way to Elim. We stopped there in 2008 when the wind was blowing at 50 mph.

According to the weather forecast our racers should have good conditions going across there.

No word from Tim and Tom yet. If I hear anything I will write an other update later.

Kathi M.

kwik n creek shelter cabin


March 15, 10:00 PM

Phil made it into Shaktoolik at 5:00 PM. Jay and Tracey arrived just 2.5 hours behind him. Jay and Tracey were in the school warming up and Jay said it was really quiet there where they could get a good night's rest. Once you drop off the blueberry hills you are on a spit of land along the Bering Sea all the way to Shaktoolik and it is exposed to the wind. When we arived here in Shaktoolik in 2008 it was -20 F with the wind at 20 mph much like what Jay was describing. The local kids were playing outside just like any other day. The coastal people of Alaska are hardy people and have lived and survived in this harsh land for hundreds of years. I admire them and enjoyed meeting and talking to them on the way to Nome.Here I was by choice and on an adventure, but they were born here and grow up here.


In 2008 the wind and -20 temperatures never let off all the way to Nome for the next 6 days. At times the wind was at over 50 mph. Those were the times when you really get to appreciate those shelter cabins between villages. 15-20 mph winds became the good days. I knew how cold it had been when the sun finally came out and there was a little break in the constant ground blizzard,I pulled off my balaclava and said " wow it's warm today. My thermometer showed -30 F.

leaving Shaktoolik

Let's hope the winds don't blow for our racers this year on the coast. Phil was planning on heading out into the night and onto the 50 mile long stretch across frozen sea ice. Once you get out there, there is no more shelter and you are exposed until you reach Koyuk. There is a shelter cabin about 12 miles out. Phil said if the wind was bad and he needed a rest he would stop there for a while, otherwise he would try to get to Koyuk by early morning. There are many stories about the wind on this particular section about human powered racers and mushers who have turned around and gone back to the shelter cabin. Many racers won't go into this section of trail in the dark. Phil knows this stretch well since he lives in Nome and has travelled in this country over the years.


March 15, 9:00 AM

Waking from a sound sleep at 3:00 AM I fumbled for the phone, "Alaska Ultra Sport", there was only the sound of loud voices in the background. After a long moment I heard Jay's voice, " Are you awake?" From the hesitation and the tone of his voice I am sure Jay thought he would get the answering machine." I am now", was my reply. " "Well hey I not sleeping so why should you!" He and Tracy had arrived in Unalakleet about an hour earlier and were in the Peace on Earth Pizza parlor gobbling down food surrounded by the party atmosphere that follows the sleddog race from village to village. They planned to sleep on the floor of the restaurant since there was no room at the Inn. They have to wait until the Post Office opens this morning to grab their drops before heading out to Shaktoolik.

Jay mentioned some locals had told him they could follow the sea ice instead of going over the Blueberry Hills. Visions of 2003 flashed in my mind when I was told something similiar in Elim only to find myself on ice so thin there was a wave in front of the snowmachine as I raced towards the jumbled ice and safety near shore. I passed this tidbit to Jay and said the decision is yours but the sea ice scares the bejesus out of me. He sounded good and said the winds the last 20 miles reminded him and Tracy of home in Wyoming. He said the sunshine, scenery and visiting with the mushers made for a great run from Tripod Flats to Unalakleet. Let's see--- Tom enjoyed -40 on the river. Phil, Jay and Tracy were all at home in windchills that burn exposed skin like a flame. Tim is out there headed for Nome for an unprecedented 5th finish. The strength and matter of fact determination of these 5 athletes epitomizes what the Iditarod Trail Invitational is all about. Any one of you are welcome to wake me in the wee hours anytime.

Bill M.

March 14, 9:47 PM

Cyclist Phil Hofstetter arrived in Unalakleet at 8:15 PM this evening. He said it was slow going through the drifts built up from a windstorm that hit after Old Woman cabin. Even so he said when the wind hit it brought a smile to his face as he thought, " Wow, I am back home on the coast!" Phil planned to get something to eat have a good rest before heading out to Shaktoolik. A snowmachiner that just came in said Jay and Tracy were about 15 miles behind him. They should get into Unalakleet later tonight.

March 14, 11:07 AM

Tom Jarding arrived in Kaltag at 8:45 AM. It took him only 11 hours 15 min. from Nulato to Kaltag, about 40 miles. He said the -42 on the river really wasn't bad at all and it was his best, most enjoyable run of the race. Not sure everyone can say they enjoy temps like that but then Tom's not everyone. He plans to leave Kaltag around 1:00 PM. He will be leaving there less than a day behind the cyclists.

Tim Hewitt called from Galena last night at 6:00 PM. He planned to get a good rest before heading out. He had already lost time and sleep in Ruby drying his sleeping bag and clothes after his camelbak bladder failed and soaked everything. Mike Curiak had the same experience last year ending his self supported trip to Nome. I took a camelbak bath in "99". The stories go on and on. Maybe it's not if but when you'll get wet. Not a good thing at -40. Tim said he had no choice but to keep moving until he arrived in Ruby.

All five racers are getting a view of the Iditarod Sleddog Race that most race fans can only dream off. They see it from checkpoints and occasionally from the air. These racers are seeing it at eye level, on the trail, in real time.

kaltag store

Kaltag village store in 2008

March 13, 1:03 PM

Tracey called earlier today and gave us a report on their ride from Galena 90 miles to Kaltag which is the last stop on the Yukon River. Temperatures at night were down -40 F and it is challenging to keep your feet warm at these temperatures when you are pedaling a bike. Phil called in a bit later and said the same thing. I know from experience that riding a cold temps is slow because everything on the bike gets really stiff. Phil also described quite a bit of pusing the bike because he was tired and the going was slow. The three were all resting, eating and waiting for the temperatures to warm up. From Kaltag the trail goes over the coastal mountains to the Bering Sea coast and the first Inupiaq village of Unalakleet.

Unalakleet is located at the Norton Sound end of the Unalakleet-Kaltag Portage, an important winter travel route between Norton Sound and the Yukon River. Unalakleet has long been a major trade center between the Athabascans who lived in the interior of Alaska and the Inupiat who lived on the coast.

It is a beautiful stretch of trail and inspiring after the long wide, Yukon River. There are two Bureau of Land Management shelter cabins, Tripot Flats and Old Woman cabin. If the wind is blowing there are places where the trail can be drifted in, but when Bill and I rode to Nome in 2008, there was a good section from Old Woman cabin that was as good as it gets for snow biking. The first two mushers in the sled dog race have just arrived in Kaltag, Jeff King followed by Lance Mackey. They have finally caught up with our bikers and will pass them up on their way to Unalakleet. According to the weather forecast the temps are supposed to warm up by next week and they may see 20 degrees on the trail.

tripot flats cabin


March 13, 7:40 AM

Phil Hofstetter calls in from Kaltag mile 698 this morning at 3:45 AM. We haven't heard from Jay and Tracey yet or Tom or Tim.

March 12, 5:27 PM

Tracey, Jay and Phil arrive in the village of Nulato on the Yukon River. Tracey said they weren't sure what their plans were. It has been cold on the river at night, so we expect the temperatures to drop again tonight.Tom Jarding is on record setting pace to challenge the Nome foot record. He arrived in Galena this afternoon at 1:00 PM and plans to head out at 8:00 PM tonight. Tim Hewitt on his fifth quest to Nome arrived in Ruby at 4:30 this afternoon.

yukon river
Bill Merchant riding on the Yukon River between Nulato and Kaltag

                      Another 350 in the Books   

    Congratulations to all who finished the 2010 Iditarod Trail Invitational to McGrath. Best wishes and tail winds to those on the trail to Nome! In a year with very ordinary conditions we had some extraordinary results. Peter Basinger’s winning time was just short of his record. Jeff Oatley was only 33 minutes behind Pete. Tracy Petervary set a new female biking and course record. The highest percentage of finishers (35)  and most ever under 7 day finishes to McGrath---the results speak highly of the fitness and determination of the winter athletes competing this year.
    I hope all of you had a chance to thank some if not all of the volunteers who helped make the race happen. Rob Kehrer our head trail breaker and Rohn checker, Michael Schoder Alaska Ultra Sport Air Force of one, chief trail groomer ,Shell Lake checker and assistant Rohn checker. Rich Crain our Yentna checker and trail sweep. Danny McDonough trailbreaker and Puntilla checker. Denny Weber and OE who joined us on their way Bison hunting to put in the trail over the Pass and down the Gorge. Chris Dabbs who furnished the truck and Jeremy our driver to transport the bikes. Mike and Ingrid at Finn Bear Lake, Tony Allen,  Steve, Irene May and Lisa Bote for their help at the starting line and pre race meeting. Greg Matayas at Speedway cycles for the great pre race party. Thanks too for all the folks in the Lodges and those who opened their homes as our checkpoints: Jean and Dan Gabryszak at Yentna Station, Bonnie Dee and Steve Childs at Skwentna Roadhouse, Zoe at Shell Lake Lodge, Carl, Kirsten and Mandy Dixon and the great staff at Winter Lake Lodge, Steve and Denise Perrins, their sons and staff at Rainy Pass Lodge, Jasper Bond the Iditarod checker at Rohn, Nick, Olene and Stephanie Petruska in Nikolai, and last but certainly not least Peter and Tracy Schneiderheize in McGrath. It takes all of these folks and the entire Iditarod Trail community to make our race happen.
Thanks to all of you from all of us. Thank you from Kathi and I to all of you who came from around the world to join us for this years race. We hope to see you back next year for another experience on the Iditarod Trail.
                                                                            Bill and Kathi

March 11, 11:51 AM

Runner Tom Jarding arrives in Ruby only 14 hours behind the three bikers at 9:00 AM this morning.

March 10, 7:32 PM

Jay, Tracey and Phil arrived in Ruby at 7:00 PM. They said that they were able to ride their bikes most of the way from McGrath, but that the riding was slow around 3-4 mph. Tracey said it has been cold at night down to -30 F. Roger, a pilot from McGrath landed near them and told them about the new BLM public shelter cabin at Carlson Crossing. He had started a fire in the wood stove for them. They resupplied from their drop bags near Cripple which is just a spot on the map. The drop bags were flown in from a McGrath pilot ahead of time .Upon arriving in the small athabascan village of Ruby they ran into the post master and were able to get their package to resupply from the post office tonight. They are spending the night in the Ruby school and plan to leave at 6:00 AM tomorrow.

Ruby is a beautiful and very friendly village on a hill above the Yukon River. I spent some time there during my race to Nome in 2008.

Alessandro Da Lio tried to leave McGrath, but returned, because his back was giving him trouble. He decided to fly back to Anchorage and hopefully try to go to Nome another year.

ruby alaska


March 10, 4:27 PM

Aaron and Vanessa finish the 350! All 35 racers arrived in McGrath!

The last three racers on the trail finished in McGrath this morning. Aaron Fanetti, Vanessa McKenzie and Claudio Piazza. This is largest number of finishers ever, 35 out of 44 starters.
Congratulations to you all!

Claudio and Cesare had been traveling together for the entire duration of the race, but Cesare decided to go on and finished 8 hours ahead of Claudio. Olene and Franceso, a racers who arrived earlier were a bit worried about Claudio. Aaron and Vanessa took care of the italian racer and made sure he was ok and stayed with him all the way to the finish line. It was -33 F this morning and he had trouble with his feet.


March 10, 8:26 AM

One more racer arrived at 2:00 AM this morning, Cesare Ornati from Italy, congratulations!

It is -33 F this morning in McGrath. The first Iditarod dog teams have already pulled through McGrath, the leader Yukon Quest camp Hans Gatt is already in Ophir, 43 miles further up the trail. Cesare saw Aaron, Vanessa and Claudio last about 10-12 miles out of McGrath last night when he left them.They may have stopped to bivvi out and watch the dog teams come by. Seeing the dog teams out on the trail is a unique opportunity few people get to experience. We hope to hear from the remaining three racers in the 350 soon.

March 9, 7:24 PM

Runners Roberto Gazzoli and Francesco Ghigliotti finished in McGrath this morning. Congratulations!
Aaron, Vanessa, Cesare and Claudio have the pleasure of seeing the lead mushers in the Iditarod Sled Dog race passing them on the trail tonight. The leaders have left Nikolai this afternoon and should pass up our last 4 racers on their way to McGrath. Few people actually get to see the Iditarod mushers out on the trail in action. Hope to hear from our last 4 racers tonight.


March 8, 6:13 PM

Aaron and Vanessa made it into Nikolai this evening. We got to talk to both of them over the telephone briefly. They were both in good spirits and planning to eat, rest a bit and then continue on to McGrath. They spent last night at Bear Creek cabin. They said they were able to ride their bikes from Bear Creek cabin to Nikolai. Cesare and Claudio are on their way to McGrath.


March 8, 8:57 AM

Loreen & Tim Hewitt and Rick Brickley arrived in McGrath this morning at 12:58 AM. Loreen broke her own female foot record from 2008 by 3 hours and 42 minutes. Congratulations Loreen!
Second finish of the 350 mile race and a new female foot record!
Congratulations Rick and Tim!

Tim left McGrath at 6:45 AM this morning continuing on to Nome for the 5th time! Tim has walked the entire 1100 miles to Nome four times: 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2009!
He holds the southern route foot record to Nome, 25 days 9 hours and 29 minutes. This year the route follows the Northern Route (even numbered years). Good luck Tim!

The italian runners Roberto, Francesco, Claudio and Cesare have made it to Nkolai. Francesco and Roberto left Nikolai at 6:15 AM this morning. We are still waiting for Aaron and Vanessa to arrive in Nikolai.

March 7, 8:18 PM

Runners Mario Sterli and Jerym Brunton finished the 350 this evening on in 7 days 5 hours 10 min. Congratulations!
There are 7 more runners on the trail and 2 more bikers Aaron Fanetti and Vanessa McKenzie. Tim, Loreen and Rick should be arriving in McGrath this evening. Temperature is currenly at -12 F in McGrath which is a lot more seasonal than what it has been lately. Jay, Tracey, Phil and Tom are traveling north towards the old mining ghost town of Ophir. There is some old buildings and old cabins scattered among old equipment form the mining days. Temperatures for the area are forecasted from -10 to -20 below zero. In the daytime they should have a pleasant 10- 15 degrees F which is just perfect for travel. The trails are firm and you can stay dry if you've got your layers right. The Iditarod started in Willow today and the dog teams have are almost to Skwentna 6 hours after the start at 2:00 PM.

March 7, 6:09 PM

Lori Hutchison and Rocky Reifenstuhl finished at 4:30 PM this afternoon with a time of 7 days 2 hours and 30 min. Lori is an ultra runner and rookie this year and had the opportunity to travel with a seasoned race veteran like Rocky Reifenstuhl. Lori is now one of 14 women since 1997 that have finished this race. This is Rocky's 6th (7th?) finish of the 350 mile race to McGrath.
Congratulations to you both.

March 7, 10:31 AM

Glenn Mackie finishes in 22nd place, 2nd in the foot division, a day behind Eric and Tom who averaged about 60 miles per day. It is a great accomplishment on foot, that is an average over 50 miles per day on snow pulling a sled with gear. Italian biker Alessandro Da Lio arrived in McGrath at 2:00 AM. He plans to continue on to Nome. Tom Jarding left McGrath at 10:00 AM this morning heading for Nome. Good luck Tom!

March 7, 10:13 AM

While some racers are already on their way to Nome, we still have 15 racers on the trail between Rohn and MGrath. Mario, Glenn, Alessandro, Tim, Loreen, Rick, Jerym, Lori and Rocky all checked out of Nikolai. We are still waiting on 4 Italians and Aaron and Vanessa to arrive in Nikolai. They are out there on the trail so much longer and anyone that finishes in McGrath is a winner in my book. It is a huge accomplishment to finish this race. The Iditarod Trail has a way of testing our bodies, minds and spirit. If you can push through the dark places that everyone has at some given point in the race, then they will succeed and they are all heroes to me. Keep putting on foot in front of the other and eventually you will get there. Getting to the finish line and being treated like family in Peter's and Tracey's house in McGrath feels like heaven. Racers also have the chance to talk to other racers there and talk about their experience, because when they get back to the "other" world, no one will really understand what they have been through and what they have accomplished.


March 6, 7:15 PM

Glenn Mackie and Alessandro Da Lio have checked out of Nikolai. Mario, Jerym, Rocky and Lori have made it into Nikolai this afternoon. No word from Tim, Lorren and Rick yet. We expect them in Nikolai tonight. We had one more scratch today. Bill Dent scratched in Rohn. He pulled a hamstring going over the pass. We hope you recover soon and we will see you back for the trace. Him and Walter were trying to get flown into McGrath today, it is weather dependent whether or not they get out.

The 4 Italian runners and Aaron and Vanessa have left Rohn this morning and are crossing the 80 miles to Nikolai. It can take them a full 24 hours to get there.
Jay, Tracey and Phil left McGrath at noon today and are heading towards Nome. After 18 miles they will pass through the small community of Takotna and after that there is pretty much nothing out there for 200 miles all the way to Ruby on the Yukon River. It can take them 3 days to get there, or it can take 5 days, depending on trail conditions.

They will resupply from an air drop along the trail near Cripple. The Iditarod Sled Dog race had their ceremonial start in Anchorage today. Mushers and dogs will restart in Willow tomorrow and be moving up the Iditarod Trail.


March 6, 10:13 AM

Tom Jarding and Eric Johnson are the first runners to finish in McGrath with a time of 5 days 17 hours and 52 min. Super effort on foot from both of you! Congratulations! Tom is planning to head out soon and continue on to Nome.

March 6, 8:37 AM

Just received another call from Rohn that Walter Hoesch is scratching in Rohn. His hip was giving him problems. Walter hat sich entschieden in Rohn aufzuhoeren. Er hatte Probleme mit der Huefte. Er fliegt heute mit Mansey Magnussen nach McGrath und von dort mit Pen Air am Montag zurueck nach Anchorage.

March 6, 8:02 AM

First update this morning was from Rohn by Sat Phone. Our 4 italian runners Claudio, Cesare, Roberto and Francesco and our German Walter have left the Rohn checkpoint this morning. Aaron and Vanessa arrived in Rohn at midnight and were in good spirits when they departed from Rohn. Michael Schoder our checker said that it was snowing. One racer is still out in the Dalzell Gorge, Bill Dent. He may have set up camp last night. I hope to have an update soon from Nikolai with several more racers arriving there.

March 5, 9:20 PM

Phil Hofstetter and Brij Potnis finished in 17th and 18th place this evening. Phil is planning to ride home to Nome this year. Our first runners Tom Jarding and Eric Johnson have left Nikolai this afternoon. Glenn Mackie arrived in Nikolai this evening. Michael Schoder called by Sat Phone from Rohn. The remainig runners Francesco, Roberto, Claudio, Cesare and Walter have made it into Rohn. Vanessa and Aaron and Bill Dent were seen by Iditarod trail brakers today. They said is was slow going for the bikers, but they expected them into Rohn tonight.

We hope to hear from Rohn and Nikolai in the morning with more updates.

March 5, 3:25 PM

4 more bikers arrived at the finish line in McGrath: Chris Plesko, Louise Kobin, Eric Warkentin and Dave Pramann. Congratulations! Louise's time is 7 hours faster than the 2005 Alaska Ultra Sport record. Chris Plesko broke his ankle in an avalanche only 5 months ago, but decided despite the injury to try to race this year and he was single speeding to McGrath. When I read on his blog that he hobbled out for several hours after the avalanche I knew that he doesn't have any quit in him. Awesome finish all of you racers!


March 5, 10:01 AM

5 more bikers have finished in McGrath this morning.
Tracey, Sean, Sebastiano, Kyle and Bill.
Congratulations to you all!

tracey petervary
Tracey's finishing time of 4 days 18 hours and 52 min. is a new overall 350 mile women's course record. Her time is 5 hours faster than the Iditasport Extreme record of 4 days 23 hours 50 min. from the year 1998 set by Chloe Lanthier. It is also is 13 hours faster than my 2005 Iditarod Trail Invitational record.
This is an amazing accomplishment for Tracey Petervary in a year with less than ideal trail conditions! She is enjoying Peter and Tracey Schneiderheinze's hospitality, eating good food and enjoying a hot shower in McGrath right now. Her and Jay plan to depart tomorrow and continue their journey to Nome.
Since 1997 only 13 women have finished the 350 mile race to McGrath and few of them multiple times and only 2 women so far have done the 1100 mile distance to Nome.

March 5, 9:16 AM

The remaining field of one cyclist and 5 runners all left the Puntilla checkpoint just before midnight and were heading towards Rainy Pass and on to Rohn, 45 miles from Puntilla. The wind has picked up again, it is snowing an blowing up there, but there was a crew of 6 snowmobiles headed for Rohn this morning as well.

March 5, 8:13 AM

Jay Petervary finished in third place last night at 11:10 PM with a time of 4 days 9 hours and 10 min. Congratulations Jay! Nicola and Nicola from Italy arrived in McGrath at 5:40 AM his morning, after 4 days 15 hours and 40 minutes. They are rookies this year, congratulations, strong effort!

Simon Honore from Denmark, a rookie as well is in 6th place with a time of 4 days 16 hours and 5 min.
Tim Stern arrived at the finish line next in 7th place one hour and 20 minutes later.

I also talked to the Nikolai checkpoint this morning.Nick and Olene didn't get any sleep last night. They have been busy feeding hungry racers all night. Our two leading female riders have checked in and out of Nikolai.

There is a new women's bike record on the horizon. Tracey Petervary left at 2:00 AM. Her arrival at the finish line will most likely be under 5 days and she could knock 11 hours off the record.
Lou Kobin, the leading female rider to the half way point is 4 hours and 40 minutes behind Tracey and her finishing time will also be under the current female bike record of 5 days 7 hours 48 min.

I expect Tracey will arrive in McGrath before noon.

There are also more bikers on the home stretch this morning: Sean Grady, Kyle Amstadter, Eric Warkentin, Chris Plesko and Sebastiano Favaro.

March 4, 9:41 PM

I talked to Bill this evening who had snowmachined from Rohn over the pass and down to Fingerlake. Walter and the remaining Italian runners have made it into Puntilla tonight. All racers have made the halfway point . He also saw Aaron and Vanessa not too far from the top of the pass. They are doing great. Lorie and Rocky were already on the other side of the pass. Mario was looking stong as well. Alessandro was not too far from Rohn. They also saw Rick, Loreen and Jerym, they were making great progress.We expect Jay to arrive in McGrath tonight and more cyclist to make it into Nikolai. Temps tonight show -2 F tonight for Nikolai and McGrath, finally more normal temps for this time of the year on the Iditrod Trail.


March 4, 7:10 PM

Olene called from Nikolai. Two more bikers arrived!
It is Nicola and Nicola from Italy, two rookies in the race this year. The reason why their arrival times are not the same is that one of them took the scenic tour of Nikolai.
Well done guys i miei amicos!
They plan to eat and get back out on the trail in about an hour.

March, 4, 6:49 PM

It has been a quiet day since the majority of our racers is in our communication black hole between Puntilla and Nikolai. Michael Odenwald decided to scratch in Fingerlake. Er hat am ersten Tag schon einen Fehltritt gemacht an einem steilen Hang und hat sich vermutlich ein Zerrung oder Prellung am Schienbein zugelegt. Ich habe mit ihm kurz telefoniert von Fingerlake. Es sagte, das untere Bein sei sehr geschwollen und in allen Farben. Es war schwierig den Fuss so in den Schuh zu kriegen.Wir hoffen, dass nichts gebrochen ist. Er fliegt morgen zurueck nach Anchorage.Wir hoffen, das Bein heilt bald und dass du im naechsten Jahr wieder dabei sein kannst.

According to Craig Medred's twitter Tim Hewitt twisted his ankle in the Dalzell and limped out of Rohn. Then he returned to Rohn and headed back up into the Dalzell Gorge. This is from the twitter.
" decided should walk wife thru. sweet. still limping." Wow. There were articles in Anchorage Daily News and AK Dispatch again today and you can listen to Pete and Jeff's interview on Alaska nightly news on APRN.

March 4, 2:52 PM

Jay arrived in Nikolai at 2:45 PM nearly a day behind Pete and Jeff who arrived in McGrath last night. Olene Petruska our checker in Nikolai said that Jay was just grabing a bite to ear and then was headed back out on the trail.

March 4, 12:15 PM

Update from Puntilla. Several racers checked out in the AM this morning. Among them Aaron, Vanessa, Loreen, Rick, Rocky, Lorie, Mario and Jerym. We may get news on how they are doing pushing into the wind that picked up this morning in the treeless expanse on the approach to Rainy Pass. Our on the trail reporter Craig Medred is heading back the other way by snowmobile with Bill Merchant sending tweets via Sat Phone.

We have our 6th scratch, it's our skier Rajko Podgornik from Slovenia. The checker Steve told me that Rajko was just burned out from the tough going this year. We wish you all the best and hope to see you back another year. I know all the scratches tried their best and gave it all!

Bill Dent, our last cyclist ist resting in Puntilla and plans to leave early in the morning. The 4 Italian runners Roberto, Francesco, Claudio and Cesare are expected in Puntilla tonight.

Walter Hoesch wurde in der naehe von Fin Bear Lake gesehen zwischen Fingerlake und Puntilla bei dem Schneemobil Fahrer Dan McDonough. Michael Odenwald kam heute morgen am 3. Checkpoint in Fingerlake an.


March 4, 10:40 AM

We have an update from Rohn. Our checkpoint here, a 16x24 Wall Tent got swamped with racers all night. Our Rohn checker Rob Kehrer and Bill Merchant were feeding and taking care of racers all night long. Being a checker in this race is a tough job, since you don't any more sleep than the racers.
Thank you to all the checkpoints, lodges and stopping points along the trail out there!

20 racers are on the trail again this morning out of Rohn, crossing the South Fork of he Kuskokwim just outside of Rohn which is glare ice most years and then crossing the Post River and on across the Farewell Lakes.

Then they will cross about 50 miles the bare ground getting beat up by the trail ever more before they get back on a snowpacked trail around Sullivan Creek bridge 25 miles from Nikolai.

Our two female cyclists Lou Kobin and Tracey Petervary have left Rohn as of this morning. I am not sure if Tracey has passed Lou or it they left about the same time. The updates from Rohn are not detailed, only who has arrived and who has left. Can one of them set a new female bike record in the 350?
By 2:00 PM today they are only 4 days into the race.
The female bike record is 5 days 7 hours 48 min. I set the record in 2005, Kathi Merchant.

Tracey Petervary is attemting to ride her bike to Nome this year with Jay, who will be waiting in McGrath for her.

Our first runners are among the pack of cyclists that have left this morning, Eric Johnson, Tom Jarding, Tim Hewitt and Glenn Mackie. Tim is on his fith trek to Nome on foot. He is the only human being that we know of who has walked the 1100 mile long Iditarod Trail 4 times.

Phil Hofstetter was still resting in Rohn and has not departed yet.

Bill Merchant and Craig Medred are heading back to Puntilla today by snowmobile and on down the trail to Fingerlake and back to Wasilla tomorrow. I may get updates from them about the racers on that section of trail by twitter. Michael Schoder flew his airplane over from Shell Lake and is helping Rob out in Rohn with the checkpoint. Thanks Michael!

March 4, 8:03 AM

We have a winner this morning. Pete Basinger claims his fourth vitory in 3 days 9 hours and 45 minutes. Jeff Oatley finishes in second place only 33 minutes behind Pete.He made up hour hour on Pete in the last 50 miles.
Congratulations! Incredible ride in the final stretch of trail. Trails from Nikolai to McGrath must be good and you both really put the hammer down on he home stretch.

Well done Pete and Jeff leaving the rest of the field in the dust.

March 3, 9:33 PM

Update from Puntilla tonight.
7 more racers have made it to the half way mark: skier Rajko Podgornik, runners Loreen Hewitt, Rick Brickley, Jerym Brunton, Mario Sterli and cyclists Rocky Reifenstuhl and Lorie Hutchison. Well done everyone, this is a tough section of trail. The checker and son of Perrins the lodge owners of Rainy Pass Lodge told me that some are planning a departure at midnight and some at 4:00 AM. That is a good time to leave the Puntilla checkpoint to make Rohn by dark. We have also one more scratch in Puntilla, cyclist Bob Ostrom, he had left there and came back with a several broken spokes in one of his wheels. He is flying out to Anchorage tomorrow.
We hope to see you again next year Bob.

March 3, 8:30 PM

I received another message from Bill Merchant by Sat Phone from Rohn this evening. Jay Petervary made it into Rohn in third place. He has Nome on his mind and is doing really well. Craig Medred our on the trail reporter has made it into Rohn himself this evening. He reported 4 bikers are close to Rohn:
Our leading woman Lou Kobin, Eric Warkentin, Sean Grady and Nome resident Phil Hofstetter who is going home to Nome via Iditarod Trail.There was another big group of cyclist including Tracey Petervary who is also going to Nome this year near the top of the pass when Craig Medred passed them by snowmobile.

I hope to receive another update from Puntilla tonight where the majority of a large group of our racers is heading tonight.

Our leading foot division of Eric Johnson and Tom Jarding, both race veterans and rookie Glenn Mackie left Puntilla at noon today.


March 3, 6:00 PM

Pete on his way to McGrath. He may finish around 3:00 AM tomorrow morning and claim his forth vitory in this race. Jeff just arrived in Nikolai, only 2 hours behind Pete.

What a great shakedown, Alaskans battling it out.
Just like they did in the Arrowhead 135 this year. Jeff beat Pete in that race by mere seconds.
Is Pete's lead enough?
Or can Jeff still catch him out on the river?

Hope to hear from the finish line in McGrath tomorrow morning.

March 3, 4:14 PM

Pete arrives in Nikolai at 4:00 PM, 3 days and 2 hours after the start.
Way to go Pete!
He plans on stopping just long enough to eat Olene's good food and head back out on the trail to McGrath, 50 miles away. Pete can ride the last 50 miles in 8-10 hours, so we expect to have a winner tomorrow morning between 1:00 AM and 3:00 AM.

I talked to him briefly over the phone. Once he got to Sullivan bridge he was back riding on snow. He said you can ride the bare ground with all the tussocks, but it takes a lot of energy and it's slow, so might as well walk it. He said he also took a nap somewhere on the trail.

This is an aerial pictures sent to me by Kevin Keeler who flew over the trail in a commercial plane from McGrath to Anchorage today. This is what racers will be traveling through once they get beyond Rohn.

farewell burn


March 3, 11:37, 11:37 AM

Italians Claudio and Cesare back on the right trail, they arrived at Shell Lake last night at 11:00 PM. Michael Odenwald auf dem Weg nach Shell seit heute morgen um 9:00 Uhr. Check out Craig Medred's twitter, he is up in the happy valley, headed back to Puntilla for oil for the snowmobile. Bikers are pushing their bikes towards the pass. Jay Petervary near the top of pass. Sugary snow on the other side down Pass Creek.

March 3, 10:50 AM

Jeff Oatley second place in and out of Rohn, only 4 hours behind Pete Basinger.

March 3, 9:23 AM

I have new updates from Fingerlake and from Puntilla this morning. Both places have been busy with racers arriving and leaving. 34 racers have made it in and out of the Fingerlake CP. 6 more racers are on route to Fingerlake. We have 2 scratches in Fingerlake this morning, Anne Ver Hoef and Chuck Struble. Both scratched due to foot problems. We wish you a quick recovery and to see you back again.

Loreen Hewitt the only female runner remaining in the race left Fingerlake this morning at 4:48 AM.

Updates from Puntilla, checkpoint 4 and half way point on the route:
16 cyclists are making their way up towards Rainy Pass at 3200 feet the highest point on the route and above tree line.
According to Craig Medred's twitter it's more tough going up there, lots of new snow, wind blown trails and the trail gone in many places.
He saw third place cyclist Jay Petervary from Wyoming near upper happy valley 2 hours ago.
Among the group of cyclist that left Puntilla this morning is Louise Kobin, lead woman is among them, still in 5th place.
Tracey Petervary left in a group of 8 bikers at 4:55 AM only 4 hours behind Lou.
Way to go both ladies!

Defending champ Jeff Oatly should be in Rohn by now and Pete could get to Nikolai by noon today.

Two more cyclists have arrived in Puntilla and also the first 3 runners are in Puntilla early this morning.


March 3, 8:00 AM

According to Crag Medred's twitter the trail is gone in places going up the Happy River Valley.
Lots of new snow.This is the Happy Valley in 2008 under beautiful conditions:

happy valley

Sounds like he even lost the trail and is currently waiting for more daylight to see. Michael Schoder reports 14-16 new inches beween Fingerlake and Puntilla. And this is what awaits he racers on the other side. This is what Pete has been struggeling through all night. Bare ground, tussocks. This image was taken last week during the Iron Dog race on the Farewell Burn. From blown in trails to bare ground within less than 100 miles. While third biker Jay Petervary is struggeling through blown in trails and new snow, Pete on the other side of the Alaska Range is struggeling through that:


And seond place Jeff Oatley? He should have arrived in Rohn by now.

March 2, 9:48 PM

More runners, one more biker and our lone skier have arrived in Fingerlake this evening.
Our only two female runners Anne Ver Hoef and Loreen Hewitt made it to Fingerlake. Loreen holds the women's foot record in the 350. Well done ladies! Rich Crain our trail sweep has moved up to Fingerlake. Jerym Brunton from New Zealand and Roberto Gazzoli from Italy are not too far out. Many are resting there tonight and pulling out in the morning to continue up the trail.
Walter Hoesch und Francesco Ghigliotti haben sich zusammengetan und muessten nun in Shell Lake sein.
Michael Odenwald ist heute Abend um 21:53 am Skwentna Roadhouse ankommen. Er will dort Rast halten und dann morgen weiter Richtung Shell Lake und dann Fingerlake.

Claudio Piazza and Cesare Ornati have not been seen, Rich thought they may have taken the wrong trail to Hewitt Lake. Hopefully when they realize their mistake and there are many cabins sprinkled around Hewitt Lake, they will get back on the right track.

March 2, 9:00 PM

12 more bikers have made it to the half way point, Puntilla this evening.
Several rookies from Alaska, Lower 48 and from Europe are among them.
Amazing job guys and well done Lou, our leading woman!
Lou Kobin is in 5th place overall. Louise has finished this race twice before in 2007 and 2009. Denise Perrins said the temperature at 9:00 PM was 29 F and the wind was about 8 knots. Not too bad for traveling tonight.

Some of the racers plan on resting for a few hours in Puntilla and then depart for Rohn at midnight and some of them in the early morning hours.


March 2, 8:31 PM

Pete made it into Rohn! Now he as 80 miles to go to the next checkpoint in Nikolai. Temps +40 F in Rohn. Unbelievable. Often it has been -40 F here on the trail not so this year, very warm, much too warm! Pete should be in Nikolai tomorrow afternoon.

Crazy weather out there today everywhere, snowing heavily in Fingerlake earlier today this afternoon, Michael Schoder went up the trail from Shell Lake to Puntilla and back, he said he has never seen the trail this bad. Rough, rough, rought is what Bill had said about it.

The open areas were blown in, it was gusting 40 -45 mph and the bikers were pushing, some had stopped at Fin Bear Lake and Mike & Ingrid's. They own a cabin near Fin Bear lake and have welcome racers there and offered their hospitality there for years now. Craig Medred reported driving rain earlier today in the Happy Gorge. None the less I had sunny and blue skies and no wind here in Chickaloon. This is Alaska. Crazy weather is normal here.

March 2, 5:48 PM

Peter Basinger from Anchorage, Alaska the current leader has a pretty impressive resume in this race and in other races as well. I believe this is his 10th time competing on the Iditarod Trail trail and he is only 29 years old. He holds the record in the 350 mile race to Mcrath: 3 days 5 hours 40 minutes he set on the 30 mile longer route in 2007 through Hell's gate. Peter likes bad weather and trail conditions, that's when he does best. He has won this race in 2004, 2006 (tied 1st with Rocky Reifenstuhl) and 2007.
Jay Petervary won 2008 and Jeff Oatley in 2009. It's time for Pete to take back the title.
It's a competition between the three of them. Looks like Pete may do it again this year. Pete you are awesome! Just heard from Puntilla that Jay left there at 4:13 PM this afternoon and 52 year old Dave Pramann from Minesota and record holder and two time winner of the Arrowhead 135 race in Minesota just arrived at 5:15 PM. Way to go guys!

I spoke with Lori Hutchison at the Fingerlake CP, a very accomplished ultra runner from Utah. She is biking this race. She said it's been tough out there, not what she expected, but she seems in good spirits and positive. She is traveling with the Rocky Reifenstuhl a seasoned race veteran from Fairbanks, Alaska. He has done the Alaskan winter ultra races on a bike for over 20 years and has finished in the top 5 four times including tying for first place with Pete Basinger in 2006.
28 racers so far have made it into Fingerlake and 23 have moved on up the trail to Puntilla. Temperature at Fingerlake was 35 F, way too warm and it was snowing again.
Our first runner into Fingerlake was multi year race veteran Tom Jarding from Pennsylvania followed by Eric Johnson from Utah, also a veteran and rookie Glenn Mackie from Texas.
Those three runners have already checked out and are on their way to Puntilla.

Doing really well also are rookies Bill Fleming, Chris Plesko, Kyle Amstadter, Simon Honore on bike from Denmark, and our Italians Nicola Saccavini, Nicola Ghiraldo and Sebastian Favaro, also biking.

Tracey Petervary is traveling without Jay and she is also on route to Puntilla.

The amazing "La Ruta Lou" Kobin was the first woman to leave the Fingerlake Checkpoint at 3:02 AM this morning. She is probably in Puntilla by now.
Sean Grady from Palmer Alaska is doing well, so are Brij Potnis, Tim Stern, Dave Pramann, Bob Ostrom, Phil Hofstetter from Nome. All of them are on route to Puntilla today.

I will check with the Puntilla checkpoint here shortly to see who has arrived since this morning there.

We hope to hear from Rohn early this evening when Pete Basinger arrives. He could be there any time now.


March 2, 1:45 PM

Winds picking up in Puntilla and on Rainy Pass. Gusting 25 mph at Rainy Pass Lodge. Pete Basinger is leading the race. He left Puntilla at 6:08 AM this morning. Bill Merchant expects him to arrive in Rohn, 45 miles further and on the other side of the Alaska Range in about 14 hours. Defending champ Jeff Oatley from Fairbanks is on Pete's heels, leaving the checkpoint 5 hours behind Pete. Jay Petervary is in third place and still in Puntilla. Check out Craig Medred's tweets, he is in the action on the trail by snowmobile right now between Fingerlake and Puntilla.

Also article by Craig Medred on AK Dispatch today from the Fingerlake Checkpoint

Warm trail punishes Iditarod ultramarathoners

March 2, 1:13 PM

I spoke with Roger Leavesley over the phone this morning.

He is back in Anchorage. He injured himself when his rear pannier came off his bike 18 miles after the start and went into the rear wheel and he crashed.The broken off part of the pannier punctured his groin when the bike came down on top of him. He continued on despite of it, but decided to stop at Luce's because it was causing a lot of pain. I know it is a disappointment Roger, but we hope to see you back next year together with your son James!

Winds are picking up on the trail as predicted by NOAA weather forecast.

I spoke via radio phone with Denise Perrins at Rainy Pass Lodge in Puntilla and it was blowing 25 mph at the lodge. The wind is often stronger once you head towards the pass. The scheduled plane to bring supplies to the lodge may not come in today. Maybe Pete Basinger made it over the pass before the winds picked up! It was 30 F at the lodge in Puntilla and 4 F in Nikolai this morning.

I also spoke with Nick Petruska at our Nikolai checkpoint and he said there was only a half inch of fresh snow from Sullivan Creek to Nikolai. According to reports the trail accross the Farewell burn is pretty much bare gound this year.

Hope to hear from Bill Merchant this afternoon via Sat Phone from our Rohn checkpoint.

14 bikers are on route from Fingerlake CP 3 mile 130 to Rainy Pass Lodge/Puntilla Lake CP 4 mile 170 since this morning. I know one more biker has arrived there this morning, I am guessing it is defending champ Jeff Oatley chasing record holder Pete and followed by Jay Petervary of Wyoming who is in third place currently.


March 2, 8:46 AM

My first update today was from Michael Schoder out at Shell Lake.

These racers have made it through Shell Lake this morning: Eric Johnson, Tom Jarding, Glenn Mackie, Aaron Fanetti, Vanessa McKenzie, Alessandro Da Lio, Bob Ostrom, Rocky Reifenstuhl, Lori Hutchison, Nicola Saccavini, Rajko Podgornik, Sebastiano Favaro, Simon Honore, Mario Sterli, Bill Dent, Tim & Loreen Hewitt and Anne Ver Hoef was just coming across Shell lake when I spoke with Michael.

It is 20 miles to the Fingerlake Checkpoint and we are going to hear from there from Mandy later today.

I also talked with Bonnie at Skwentna, we have our 2nd scratch, Dario Valsesia from Italy. He seems to have struggled with a cold. He is flying out to Anchorage this afternoon.

March 1, 8:21 PM

Pete, Jeff and Jay have left Fingerlake and are on their way to Puntilla tonight. It is always a tough section of trail with many steep ups and downs,including the infamous Happy River steps.But this year it sounds especially difficult because of the rough trail conditons out there. I have always enjoyed this section of trail. You start climbing into the Alaska Range. When I am racing I can't wait for this section of trail, because I am ready to leave the flat river and lake country of the Susitna Valley behind me. It is a very scenic section of trail in the daytime with distant mountain views and narrow wooded trails that keep you busy. The uphills are a workout pushing a loaded 50 pound bike up them, but the downhills can be a lot of fun cruising on twisty, narrow snow singletrack.

There is more monotony traveling the river and after the Shell Hills on the endless swamps across to Fingerlake. I have not been very descriptive of the trail partly because I have been very busy just typing and recording everyone's arrival times. Maybe now I wished I was out there among the racers on the trail. Tavelling through the Alaskan winter wilderness at night is a very special experience, it has a very calming effect on me and I can go inside myself and just live in the spotlight in front of me.

At night, time seems to fly and all of a sudden several hours have gone by and you have covered several miles in the dark of the night.I just saw on the calender that the racers started under the full moon yesterday. Despite overcast skies they may be riding under the moonlight out there tonight.

Bonnie from Skwentna just called me and there are a few more racers that have arrived there tonight, and there were 6 more within an hour of Skwentna.

Michael Odenwald ist nach 30 Stunden und 96 km nun am Yentna Station checkpoint angekommen um 19:55.
Er hat sich dort fuer die Nachtruhe einquartiert und plant morgen weiter Richtung Skwentna Roadhouse zu marschieren, der 2. Checkpoint auf der Strecke. Walter Hoesch plant um zwei Uhr nachts den Checkpoint Yentna Station zu verlassen.

Die Temperaturen heute nachmittag waren recht warme 2 Grad, aber die Trails sind ganz gut, laut Michael Schoder, der der Zoe in der Shell Lodge Lodge mit den Teilnehmern aushilft. Er hat die Strecke zwischen Shell Lake und Fingerlake mehrfach praepariert seit dem letzten Schneefall mit seinem Trail Groomer. Laut Wetterbericht sind die Temperaturen auf der anderen Seite des Rainy Passes in der Alaska Range kaelter, um die -20 Grad. Dort herrscht das kaeltere Inland Klima. Zwischen Rohn und McGrath liegen die Temperaturen oft bei -40 Grad. Ich denke dieses Jahr werden wir solche extreme Temperaturen nicht sehen. Der Trail ueber den 1000 Meter hohen Rainy Pass laut Bill Merchant ist gut, der dieses Jahr wie immer wenn er nicht selber mit im Rennen faehrt, der Trail Braker ist. Wir sind immer die ersten die die 72 km lange Strecke ueber den Pass benutzen und daher den Trail anlegen muessen per Schneemobil, Saege, Machete usw.

Mehr Neuigkeiten morgen.

Kathi Merchant

March 1, 6:24 PM

Jay Petervary and Dave Pramann enjoying dinner at winter lake lodge on finger lake according to Craig Medred's Tweet.

Pete and Jeff arrive together in Fingerlake, CP3 mile 130 at 3:54 PM. Wow, interesting. Jay Petervary is hot on their heels.

I received a call from Michael Schoder from Shell Lake, several bikers have left there and are on route to Fingerlake:

Jay Petervary, David Pramann, Nicola Saccavini, Eric Warkentin, Lou Kobin, Bill Fleming, Chris Plesko, Sean Grady Kyle Amstadter, Brij Potnis and Tim Stern should arrive in Fingerlake this afternoon and tonight.

28 racers have arrived at Checkpoint 2, Skwentna Roadhouse. It looks like the trail is slow out there on the river. There are icy sections out there with fresh snow on top of it , which makes for challenging trail conditions without studded shoes or tires.

We have our first scratch, it is Roger Leavesley from the UK. He rented a cabin at Luce's for two nights and plans to fly out to Anchorage on Wednesday with Regal Air. I am not sure why Roger scratched, I haven't talked to him. They are taking really good care of him at Luce's Lodge.

Von Michael Odenwald haben wir bisher noch nichts gehoert, er ist wohl auf dem Yentna Fluss zwischen Luce's und Yentna Station. Wir hoffen, dass er heute Abend in Yentna Station ankommt.

March 1, 3:28 PM

No bikers have arrived in Fingerlake as of 3:30 PM this afternoon.

23 bikers have made it to Skwentna at this time including Lori Hutchison, Rocky Reifenstuhl,Bob, Ostrom, Dario Valsesia.

There are still 3 racers that haven't made it to Yentna yet.
Those are Roger Leavesley, Michael Odenwald and Walter Hoesch.

Unsere zwei deutschen Laefer sind bisher noch nicht am 1. Checkpoint angekommen. Das Wetter ist etwas warm, um den Gefrierpunkt und letzte Nacht fiel Neuschnee auf dem Yentna Fluss.Das macht das Vorankommen mit einem Pulka etwas langsamer. Walter Hoesch ist mittlerweile in Yentna angekommen heute nachmittag gegen 16:00 Uhr nachmittags.Er will rasten bis Mitternacht und dann weitergehen mit dem Italiener Francesco Ghigliotti in den Morgenstunden.

Hoffentlich hoeren wir spaeter noch von Rich Crain, unserem Checker in Yentna Station

March 1,1:55 PM

Jay Petervary arrives at Shell Lake in third place about 2 hours behind Pete and Jeff. We should hear from Fingerlake soon about Pete's arrival there.

17 bikers into Skwentna Roadhouse. 13 bikers have left Skwentna Roadhouse.
Check the leaderboard to see where your favorite racer is.

March 1,11:46 AM

Runners Anne Ver Hoef, Glenn Mackie, Jerym Brunton, Mario Sterli have passed through Yentna Station as well and are on their way to Skentna. Rich Crain said it was 31 degrees F and the snow had just slid off the roof there at the lodge. Forecast is for temperatures in the mid 30's (around freezing or just above freezing) and potentially more snow. The best time to travel for bikers will be nighttime when temps are in the 20's ( 20 F is about -7 Celsius for the Europeans following this event)
32 degrees F is 0 Grad Celsius.
7 racers have not arrived at Yentna Sttiona yet as of noon today.

March 1, 10:06 AM

Louise Kobin is our first female biker into Skwentna at 7:01 AM.
9 bikers have arrived at Skwentna this morning. Currently 4 bikers were resting there and 5 are back out on the trail.
Loreen Hewitt was the first female runner into Yentna Station this morning and is on her way to Skwentna.
Loreen holds the female foot record to McGrath set in 2008.
We only have to female runners. Loreen and Anne Ver Hoef is a local runner from Anchorage.She was not in Yentna yet when I talked to Rich Crain there this morning at 9:00.This is her 3 time in this race. She had to pull out of the race in 2008 because of frostbite to her face almost 300 miles into the race. We wish her the best of luck that she will finish this year!

We only have 6 women out of 44 racers on the trail.
Bikers Tracey Petervary, Lori Hutchison and Vanessa McKenzie arrived at Yentna Station last night and this morning. Tracey and Lori have already left Yentna this morning and Vanessa was getting some rest.

Our first runners arriving at Yentna Station at 6:30 AM were Eric Johnson from Utah and Tom Jarding, both multi year race veterans.

The only skier in the race Raiko Podgornik from Slovenia left Yentna Station this morning at 8:15 AM. This is his 6th time in the race, he hopes to make it to Nome this year.

We have 4 couples in the race this year.

I am so exited to see that. Bill and I started this racing couples thing and now there are several couples in the race:
Runners Tim & Loreen Hewitt from Pennsylvania, bikers Jay & Tracey Petervary from Wyoming,bikers Lou Kobin & Eric Warkentin from California, bikers Aaron Fanetti from Missouri and Vanessa McKenzie from Illinois.

Jay and Tracey are racing to McGrath independent and then they plan to go the full length to Nome together this year.


March 1, 9:10 AM

Pete Basinger, the 350 mile course record holder, is the first biker that arrived at Shell Lake ( mile 110) this morning at 8:00 AM! He was planning on sleeping an hour or two.

I just talked to Michael Schoder, our checker and trail groomer out at Shell Lake.

He said there are 6 inches of fresh snow between Shell Lake and Fingerlake.

Pete Basinger was the first biker to leave Skwentna Roadhouse ( mile 90) at 3:45 AM this morning. He arrived at Shell Lake Lodge at 8:00 AM this morning. The next biker out of Skwentna Roadhouse left there at 5:30 AM. I don't know who it is yet.

Michael is grooming the trail to Fingerlake (mile 130) and he said Pete was able to ride the trail.

Many racers have arrived and left Yentna Station this morning. I will have updates from Skwentna here shortly.

Bill Merchant, our trail braker called me last night at 10:00 PM. Him and Rob Kehrer had made it into Rohn. He said there was a lot of brush and the snow down Pass Creek on the other side of Rainy Pass was sugary.
But the trail is in to Rohn!

Mike and Ingrid who host racers in the trail at Fin Bear Lake between Fingerlake and Puntilla decided to go out on the trail. A few days ago they had told us that they would not be out there this year. Micheal said they seem to have trouble to get their Tundra snowmachines past Red Lake just past Fingerlake. There is also Dan McDonough another trail braker for us this year and Bruno, a Yukon Quest musher on the trail. With the work of the 4 of them and shoveling in those giant holes on the trail, we hope they can safely make it through that brutal section and make their way up the trail.

Feb. 28, 11:22 PM

Within the last hour 7 more bikers have arrived at Yentna Station. Jay Petervay, Peter Basinger, David Pramann.They have already left Yentna Station and are on route to Skwentna Roadhouse chasing Jeff Oatley. Nicola Saccavini, Sean Grady, Bill Fleming and Brij Potnis have arrived as well. Rich Crain is manning the checkpoint in Yentna Station and helping out Dan & Jean Gabryszak, the lodge owners. Rich Crain has been out there on the trail for over 20 years now to help out with these human powered races on the Iditarod Trail.

My next update will be tomorrow morning.


Feb. 28, 10:00 PM

First biker has arrived at Yentna Station. It's Jeff Oatley! He said he hadn't seen any lights behind him for a while. It's snowing out there, so that's slowing everyone down a bit.



February 28, 2010 5:37 PM

I have added some pictures I took of racers before the start. I did not get to take one of everybody. If you have some good ones, please e-mail me those.

44 racers from 8 different countries left the starting line at Knik Lake this afternoon at 2:00 PM after having a great burger and fries at the Knik Bar.

28 bikers, 15 runners and 1 lone skier. There were 38 men and 6 are women.The temperature was at 25 degrees Farenheit and skys were overcast. It was great to see everyone off and now we wait to hear the first checkpoint updates from Yentna Station, checkpoint one, 60 miles up the trail. In past years the first bikers have arrived there around 7:00 PM. We will see how fast they can get there this year since there is quite a bit of fresh snow that fell two days ago between Knik Lake and Flathorn Lake.That should make the trail quite a bit slower on the first 30 miles.

By the time they reach the Susitna and Yentna Rivers they should have a really good trail. Bill Merchant had told me it was like a sidewalk especially after Yentna Station. There is also some snow in the forecast for tonight, so I am guessing the bikers especially are trying to make some good time before there is new snow on the trail.

I will have another update tonight when I get news from Yentna Station.


February 27, 2010 4:00 PM

We just had our annual pre race meeting at the Golden Lion Hotel in Anchorage. The trail reports from trail brakers Bill Merchant and Rob Kehrer are a mixed. About 14" of fresh snow between the starting line at Knik Lake and Flathorn Lake ( mile 30) fell yesterday. Good trail conditions on the Yentna River. Trails are like a side walk between Yentna Station ( mile 60) and Skwentna Roadhouse ( mile 90). Shell Lake to Puntilla ( mile 170) is rougher than Bill has ever seen it in his 13 years on the trail.The trail between Shell Lake and Fingerlake has seen some grooming by Michael Schoder.Rough trails means there are bumps and big holes in the trail. The good news is there is no reports of overflow that had formed on the Yentna River earlier this week during very warm temperatures (above freezing for several days) when Bill flew over the trail taking in the drop bags and food and supplies to Fingerlake, Puntilla and Rohn.

Bill called me from his Sat Phone this afternoon. He and and Rob arrived at Rainy Pass Lake this afternoon. This are his words " Trails are rougher than ever from Fingerlake to Finbear lake, the trail from Puntilla to Rainy Pass lake was a dream, no more bumps".

They will go to the top of the pass and over the top without their loaded trailers, return to camp at Rainy Pass lake this afternoon and then ride down the Dalzell Gorge tomorrow.

This is what we know so far about the of trail.There is not much snow on the trail over the pass or in the Dalzell Gorge. They may have to haul snow from other places to build multiple ice briges over the Dalzell Creek. Then there is reports of no snow and bare ground and tussocs on the Farewell burn.

I will see the racers off at Knik Lake at 2:00 PM and then post our first evening update including checkpoint times from Yentna Station on our leaderboard.

Kathi Merchant/race coordinator

February 26, 2010 11:30 PM

Today was our pre race party at Speedway Cycles where I met old friends and new racers. Thanks Greg for arranging the party again this year and all the good food and athmosphere.

I am in Anchorage tonight and I will have more time to talk to some of the racers before they haed out on the trail. At 2:00 Pm we will have our pre race meeting at the Golden Lion Best Western Hotel. Then on Sunday the racers are off on the trail at 2:00 PM at Knik Lake.

Bill Merchant and Rob Kehrer left today on two snowmobiles and went up the trail as far as Puntilla (mile 170) tonight.

Tomorrow they hope to break the trail over Rainy Pass and down the Dalzell Gorge which will be this year's first tracks on that section of trail.
Kathi Merchant

February, 23, 2010 8:25 PM

NOAA weather forecast sounds pretty good for now.




As in past years I will be writing updates here on Latest News as well as keeping the Leaderboard current.
I will be in contact with all the checkpoints along the route and our trail crew to keep track of our racers.
Race fans, friends, familly and future racers can post messages on our Message Board.
There will also be Podcasts on mtbcast hosted by Joe Polk again.
Our Facebook page will also have news during the race.

You can find current temperatures and weather along the trail here current conditions along Iditarod Trail.

I hope you will all follow along again this year as I write my daily updates about the
9th annual Iditarod Trail Invitational.

Kathi Merchant
race director

February 21, 2010

Hello All,

We managed to fly the drops and food to Finger Lake, Puntilla and Rohn today. It rained on us but it was too warm for icing which would have kept us on the ground. We watched the Iron Dog riders running up the Yentna River in overflow all the way. We managed to land at Finger Lake but sank half way to our knees in the packed runway when we stepped out. Carl Dixon our host at Winter Lake Lodge said the sports class of iron dog all got stuck in heavy overflow on Red Lake (just the other side of Finger Lake) friday.

If it turns cold all of it will turn to ice and be really fast. There is not much snow in the Pass and a lot of open water on Pass Creek, Pass Fork and Dalzel. The Iron dog checker at Rohn said when they tried to go up the Dalzel they ran out of ice and there was no snow to build bridges. It was 43 F(5 C) in Rohn. There are 6 of us working on the Pass and Gorge this year but there could still be some wading involved to get to Rohn. The Tatina was ice all the way to Rohn. If any of you have connections we could use a little cold and snow. Good news is there is a trail through the new burn and we are on the Trail soon!

And then as my friend Rok Kovac kept saying as he and I and Kathi walked our bikes from Ophir to Ruby,

" It is what it is!"

February 19, 2010

Hello All,

We just got back from a 5 day winter bike school based out of Flathorn Lake. Trails were a little soft during the day and with the warm temperatures all the normal places were starting to overflow on the lakes and rivers. With temperatures up to 40 degrees and rain in the Susitna valley things are getting a bit soggy. Word from Shell Lake they got 17 inches of fresh wet snow. Olene Petruska said her grandson had been moose hunting from Nikolai to Farewell Lake and that there was not enough snow to see a moose track. There is a fresh burn between Rohn and Egypt Mountain that has left deadfall all over the trail. The Iron Dog has punched a trail around it and back up the Post river . Not sure yet if it will work for us so don't forget to pack your saws.

There is a production crew making a reality show for television about the Perrins boys at Rainy Pass Lodge. They will be there when we go through and ask about filming all of you. I told them they could not bother any of you but if you wanted to be a star I had no problem with it. If you don't want to be bothered do not hesitate to say no thank you. You will have to sign a release to be on TV.
Craig Medred will be reporting from the trail so don't get caught doing anything you don't want someone to read about. He doesn't need a release. He has also said he will pitch in and help with trail breaking chores if needed. Journalist/Trailbreaker are not 2 words you would expect to see together. We are glad to have Craig back on the trail with us.
Phrase of the day, "waterproof to the knees"

We will be in Anchorage tomorrow at noon at Alaskan European B&B at 3107 Cottonwood Street picking up drop bags.

More after I fly the drop bags on Sunday.
Bill Merchant

February 1, 2010

Hello All,

In just 4 weeks many of us will be at the starting line for the 9th annual Iditarod Trail Invitational. The trails are hard and fast here around Chickaloon and so it seems everywhere else too.

Michael Schoder sent word that Iron Dog racers have made it to McGrath and said there is very little snow on the Burn.
Kathi has contacted the village schools beyond McGrath and it has been a low snow year so far all the way to Nome with gravel bars showing on the Yukon.
Nick and Olene Petruska have just told me they will be our checkpoint again in Nikolai despite Nick still being weak from his fight with bladder cancer. They have opened their home to us since the race began welcoming trail weary, smelly racers like they are family. Thanks Nick, Olene and Stephanie. It wouldn't be the same without you!

Craig Medred the Outdoors Editor for the Anchorage Daily News for many years is now writing for the Alaska Dispatch. If everything comes together he will be on the Trail covering our race and Iditarod. He will be using a sat phone and data link to Tweet and Peep and whatever else modern journalists and networking buffs do. Craig has written dozens of articles about the race and even helped break trail one year. He should be able to do better than most covering the race from the trail. Craig asked me to pass this on to all of you: "but as a test-run, i'm trying to get to go for full on coverage of the invitational. along those lines, it would help if you all sent the racers an emailing saying we're hoping to cover and Twitter the race from on the course, and if any of them have any contacts at publications or websites -- especially in Europe or Outside -- that would be interested in coverage, send them to".

For the third year Greg Matyas and the gang at Speedway Cycles are hosting a pre race party for all racers. It will be held at Speedway Cycles (Home of the Fatback snow bike) on Friday, February 26th at 6:00 PM.
Thanks Greg for getting everyone together before we hit the trail.

Drops are due at Alaska European B&B by noon on Saturday, February 20th.

The Pre Race meeting will be at 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 27th at the Golden Lion Best Western.

We will begin loading bikes at 10:30 AM and the bus loads for Knik Lake at 11:00 AM at the Golden Lion. Just a reminder GPS trackers such as spot,etc are not allowed in the race. Racers may use Sat phones and or emergency locator beacons as well as gps devices designed for navigation not tracking.
Enjoy your last few training runs, rides, skis.

Bill and Kathi

January 2, 2010

Hello to All,
We hope the New Year is starting well for everyone! Kathi and I finished a 5 day school on the trail on New Years Eve. Nice way to end a year riding on the Trail with nice folks under a full moon. The trails out of Point McKenzie and up the rivers were

I just received word from John Runkle that Bison camp will not be available this year. He has moved to Anchorage where his son has better educational opportunities and can't be there to open the camp. He plans to disassemble the camp and close it. Many of us remember when the camp was in full swing with the Runkles, guides, hunters and the smell of buffalo or moose stew. After a hot meal we were sent off to sleep on spruce bough beds in a heated tent. I am sure I can speak for all of us when I say Thank You John, Marty, PJ and all the others who showed us warm hospitality and gave us shelter through the years at what seemed very much like the Fairwell Burn Hilton. The Runkles have been good friends not just to our race but to all travelers on the Iditarod Trail and Bison Camp will be missed.

The other option for shelter on that stretch of trail is Bear Creek Cabin. This is a BLM public use cabin and it is 10 miles beyond Bison Camp and about 1 mile off the right side of the trail. As of last year it is a well marked turn off to the cabin. For those of you new to the race this stretch from Rohn to Nikolai across the Farewell Burn can be a very long 82 miles. Notoriously cold (often -40) and with more often than not a quartering headwind for the last 40 miles being fully prepared has always been important but even more so now that we do not have Bison Camp for a bail out. Seems we had more halucinations on this section of trail before we had Bison Camp like snarling wolves standing beside the trail seen by several racers.
Who knows maybe sightings like that will pick up again.

Happy New Year to all of You and Yours!
Good trails and training and we are looking forward to seeing all of you soon.

Here is the link to our message board.
It is open to all racers, family, friends and fans.

Bill and Kathi

December 7, 2009

Hello to All,
I hope winter is going well for everyone. It is full on winter here in Chickaloon and up the trail. The trail has been put in on the Susitna and Yentna rivers up to Skwentna. They have 3 feet of new snow at Skwentna and 5 feet at Shell Lake. No word this morning from Finger Lake but there is 3 feet on the ground at Rainy Pass Lodge. There is very little snow from Rohn to Bison Camp and about 12 inches in Nikolai and McGrath.
Everyone I spoke with on the trail today said Happy Holidays to all of you racers and that they look forward to seeing everyone during the race.
Just a reminder to all of you signed up for Nome that haven't finished to Nome before: Like last year all of you will need to post a $750.00 bond before race start that will be returned if you do not take assistance from Iditarod during the race. If you do take assistance that money will be donated to Iditarod. This is not an evacuation fee. Racers will still be responsible for their own evacuation from the trail.
I know it is much to early to think about 2011 but with all the inquiries we have already had for the 2011 race I want to give everyone a heads up to how entries will be handled. April 1st through April 7th entries will open to all prior finishers. April 8th entries will open for those who have started but not finished and new qualified racers.
I spoke with Nick Petruska in Nikolai and he is doing better and slowly getting his strength back. Here's hoping he beats this thing and gets back to being himself soon.
For those of you staying at Alaska European B&B be sure to contact Irene and let her know.
As I hear more from the trail I will pass it on so those of you who don't know better can worry unneccesarily about conditions that are sure to change right up until race start.

Happy holidays and good training to all of You.
Bill and Kathi

October 1, 2009

Fall in Alaska

The leaves are falling and the snowline gets lower on the mountains everyday. Soon we will be putting on Skis or Running shoes or getting on Fat tired bikes traveling / training on snow. Then before we know it February is here and we are at the starting line with thoughts and doubts about training, gear, trail or rather the lack of a trail bouncing around in our heads.
We are looking forward to the winter riding season and to seeing all the old friends and meeting new racers in February. Not much to report but as the snow moves down into the valley I will have more news from the trail to cause everyone needless worry about things we can't change.

There are still some spaces left in both of our 5 day winterbike training camp December 27-31, 2009 and February 13-17, 2010. New racers interested please contact us by e-mail at:

Wishing all of You a great Fall and Winter

Bill & Kathi

June 13, 2009

The starting list for the 2010 race is FULL!
We have established a waiting list for racers still hoping to grab a spot in case we have some cancellations.

New! Bill uploaded a youtube video about this year's race capturing his time with the racers on Rainy Pass.

t he wouldn't come back. Congratulations to you both for the determination and drive you demonstrated by hanging tough and finishing in less than ideal conditions. Final race results 350 mile race.

Thanks to each and every racer who started in Knik for joining us for this year's race. I hope to see all of you back 2010 for another experience on the Trail. In a year when Mother Nature and the Iditarod Trail tested us all we had 28 finishers to McGrath. That is the second most finishers we have had. Also I have never heard so many racers fresh off the trail say they would see us next year.

Let's not forget our four racers headed to Nome. We will be by the phone waiting to hear from each of them as they arrive in the villages along the way and keep all of you informed about their progress.


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