Jay Petervary wins the 1000 mile race in 16 days 23 hours and 45 minutes

Jay Petervary rolled in under the burled arch among the top ten Iditarod mushers under sunny calm day in Nome today at 2:45 PM. He holds a new Southern Route record with 16 days 23 hours and 45 minutes! Congratulations Jay. This is his 4th finish in Nome and third win. The next cyclist are Nome local Phil Hofstetter (a previous winner) and Fairbanks riders Jay Cable ( a previous winner) and Kevin Breitenbach. They are in Koyuk and two days behind Jay. This might be the biggest lead a racer in the ITI has had over the next rider in the 1000 mile distance! 

There was a crowd of mushers, Iditarod fans, Kathi Merchant, co race director, Bjorn Olson and Kim McNett, well known Alaskan fat bike expeditions bikers had flown in to ride to Fairbanks from Nome. greeting as Jay rolled in with a big smile and great trail stories of endurance and perseverence with hundreds of miles of soft trail conditions. Well done Jay. Beers and pizza, shower and a bed in Nome are well deserved!

image Nils Hahn
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Kathi MerchantComment
Jay Petervary is on the home stretch to Nome

Jay is out of White Mountain on the final 77 mile stretch to Nome. I am flying out in the morning. I hope I can beat him to the finish line unter the burled arch in Nome!

Phil Hofstetter is reporting strong winds on the flats near Shaktoolik. It was blowing 30 mph, with lots of snow to drift and trails to drift in. Kevin and Jay C are also held up there. They plan to depart Shaktoolik tonight when winds are supposed to die down. 
Troy S. was making 9.5 mph on the portage trail with Kyle, Adam Toni and Craig B in tow. Trails must be good for them for now!



Jay;s bike outside a shelter cabin on the Iditarod Trail this week.

Jay;s bike outside a shelter cabin on the Iditarod Trail this week.

Kathi MerchantComment
Day 16

The weather forecast for Shaktoolik:


A 50 percent chance of snow, mainly after 10am. Cloudy, with a high near 25. Northeast wind around 10 mph.

Snow likely. Areas of freezing fog. Cloudy, with a low around 12. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

A 50 percent chance of snow, mainly before 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 18. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

Race leader Jay Petervary is on his way to Golovin coming off LIttle McKinley which can be a very windy spot on the trail.The three Alaskans traveling together Kevin, Jay C and Phil are departing Shaktoolik after spending the night there and are getting ready to cross the sea ice to Koyuk. 

The next 5 cyclist, Kyle, Adam who was having rear hub issues, Craig, Toni and Troy are currently still in Kaltag. 

Great write up by Craig Bullen:

"Craig Anthony Bullen

10 hrs

Iditarod trail invitational Knik to Nome, Day 14, mile 643

So I made it to Kaltag this morning. After probably the best ride of my life. 75 miles up the Yukon River. The first 15 miles were really slow I could not get going! The previous day I was on the move for 21 hours and motivated to take advantage of rare good conditions and made 87 miles of good progress. Exhausted and drenched in sweat I did not sleep warm. Even though my bag is rated for -48.
I stopped at the Iditarod dog race check point for a while, chatted to the racers, took pictures and had some coffee. It was 6 pm when I got back on my bike and I was starting to feel quite good. After a while I started to really push and the ambition to reach Kaltag in one shot was beginning to form. I decided to push to within 30 miles before I would stop to make myself a hot drink and snack, I melted more snow for hot drinks later on.

It was -15 and I was sweating hard and feeling stronger still, I should not be feeling this way after 8 hours of riding a 75lb fat bike. The feeling of just being able to push harder and harder was exhilarating , it was awesome. I attacked the trail like it was a time trial for the last 25 miles. I blew past the other racers as they were asleep in their bags on the snow. It was 4 am and there were no more tire tracks in front of me. Tearing down the wide Yukon in the dark, my headlamp not powerful enough to reach the banks either side of me. The surroundings were surreal and I was euphoric, this was amazing. At Six am I ride up off the river and into the ramshackle streets of Kaltag. In the check point I sat and breathed hard for about 20 mins. I went up stairs to see the on shift vets ready to check in the Next Dog team. I insisted that one of the bewildered Vets give me a high 5 before I pounded down a big handful of cookies they offered me. Best ride of my life.

Kath Merchant
co race director

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Kathi MerchantComment
Day 15

Race leader in the 1000 mile event Jay Petervary has left Koyuk this morning and is moving along at 5.5 mph. 

Phil has departed Unalakleet. 

Here is the weather forecast for the area:

Cloudy with a chance of snow. Areas of freezing fog in the afternoon. Highs in the upper teens to mid 20s. Northeast winds to 10 mph.

Mostly cloudy. A chance of snow in the evening, then a slight chance of snow after midnight. Lows 9 to 12 above. North winds to 10 mph.

Kevin and Jay C have made it into Unalakleet. 

From Jay Cable's face book page "Unalakleet! 
The highlight of yesterday's ride was getting a fist bump from Hugh Neff while on the trail, then hanging out with him and listening to his stories for a bit at old woman cabin."

from Kevin:"Back in unalakeet a year and one day since last time. Think Jay and I might just go for a bike ride today!"

Kyle and Adam report blizzard conditions getting into Kaltag.

Peter and Beat are on route to Eagle Island. Klaus is out of Iditarod.

Phil Hofstetter at Old Woman cabin. Image  Paul Ivanoff III

Phil Hofstetter at Old Woman cabin. Image Paul Ivanoff III

Kathi MerchantComment
Day 14

14 days into the race race leader Jay Petervary is 770 miles into the race, crossing the sea ice today.

This is the weather forecast for Koyuk:

This Afternoon

Mostly cloudy, with a high near 14. Calm wind.


A 10 percent chance of snow after 5am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 6. North wind around 5 mph.

Snow, mainly after 2pm. Areas of freezing fog after 2pm. High near 22. North wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

Monday Night
Snow, mainly before 11pm. Areas of freezing fog before 11pm. Low around 13. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Phil, Jay C and Kevin B are heading over the Kaltag portag towards the coast. Based on their speeds part of the trail is ridable other parts are a walk/push for the bikers.

After a long rest in Grayling, RD Kyle Durand and his trail companion Adam are tackling the long 120 mile Yukon River stretch towards Kaltag as well as Toni, Troy and Craig.

The runners Beat and Peter have left Grayling as well. They are making great time on foot. The Red Lantern runner is Klaus from Austria. He is on his way to Iditarod.



Kathi MerchantComment
Trails have firmed up for mid pack racers today

Jay P has reached the foothills cabin past Unalakleet. Phil is 9 miles from Kaltag. Kevin and Jay C. are moving at 4.6 miles an hour and they have made up time to Phil. Toni, Kyle, Adam, Troy, Craig are in Grayling. Beat and Peter are in Anvik and Klaus is on his way to Moose Creek Cabin.

Kathi MerchantComment
Day 13

Tim Hewitt is a scratch in Anvik. He was running out of time this year for work. Trails are still soft. Race leader Jay P has been resting in Unalakleet for over 9 hours. Phil H is still on the Yukon River on his way to Kaltag making slow progress. 12 racers remain on the trail to Nome on day 13 of the 2018 ITI.

Kathi MerchantComment
continued slow soft trails for all the racers in the 1000 mile event

Checking the trackers this morning, racers are still making slow progress on the trail. Race leader Jay P has been stopped at the Tripod Flats cabin on the Kaltag portag for 8 hours, it looks like he is moving again. Warm temps, soft trails make for slow travel on the Iditarod Trail at this time. Second biker Phil H is just beyond Eagle Island on the 120 mile Yukon River section. Kevin B and Jay C are in Grayling and RD Kyle D, Adam E are in Anvik this morning. Behind them are runner Tim H, Troy S and several other bikers and runners. The last racer on the trail is Klaus S, he is just out of Ophir.

Spoke with Adam E this morning in Anvik. He bivvied last night and got passed by a musher. He is resting and regaining some strength before continuing on up the Yukon River.

Spoke with Adam E this morning in Anvik. He bivvied last night and got passed by a musher. He is resting and regaining some strength before continuing on up the Yukon River.

These were Adam's words: "No easy miles." Slow but steady."

Jay P on the Yukon River, image from JayP's Instagram

Jay P on the Yukon River, image from JayP's Instagram

Kathi MerchantComment
slow going heading towards Nome

Racers between Iditarod, Shageluk, Anvik, Grayling and beyond report slow going, soft and wind drifted trails. Temperatures have been on the warm side. Jay P, the race leader, is making slow progress out of Kaltag on his way to the coast. Even after the trail breakers of the Iditarod went through, trail conditions were still really slow for the bikers.  Once temperatures cool off at night, conditions should improve for the cyclists and runners. 13 athletes remain in the 1000 mile race. The first 2 mushers are out of Iditarod. 

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Kathi MerchantComment
Race leader Jay P is still in Kaltag this morning, soft trails, more snow and wind

The race leader Jay Petervary has been in Kaltag for over 14 hours now. He is reporting that many packages racers send "general delivery" to the village post offices a week ahead of the race start have not arrived at many of the villages from Shageluk to Kaltag. This morning he found his in Kaltag with patience it had arrived and he is ready to resupply and keep moving along. The next section is the Kaltag portage historically used between interior Athabascans and Inupiaq people on the coast. This stretch to the Bering sea coast village Unalakleet (means where the east wind blows) is 80 miles long. There are two BLM shelter cabins (Tipod Flats and Old Woman)

Jay is reporting pretty epic conditions out there according to his wife's FB post who he spoke with this morning:

"It was pretty epic out on the river, whiteout conditions, vertigo, 4-6 inches of snow fell, could barely see the trail, was following an old snowmachine track, if he stepped off the trail he was crotch deep. Didn't see anyone until 25 miles from Kaltag."

The closest racer behind Jay is Phil who is moving at 2 mph (pushing speed) towards Eagle Island, not a check point in the ITI but a check point for the mushers in the Iditarod dog race.

There are a total of 13 racers heading to Nome in the 2018 ITI and the last racer has just left McGrath, runner Klaus Schweingerber. Jay is 316 miles ahead of him at this point.

Kathi MerchantComment
Jay P has a 91 mile lead in the 1000 mile race

Jay P has put an amazing 91 mile gap on the next rider on the trail, who is Phil Hofstetter from Nome. Racers behind him have stalled out in fresh snow and wind blown, disappearing trails. They are waiting for the Iditarod Trail brakers to pass to break the trail out again. Once the mushers catch them, there will be a lot of traffic on the trail heading to Nome.

Image Andy Romang

Image Andy Romang

Kathi MerchantComment
Deep snow stalls riders on the trail, Jay P has a big lead

I spoke with several racers between Shageluk and Grayling by calling the B&B's where they are holding up. Deep snow, drifted in trail is reported by Phil in Grayling and Kevin and Jay C in Shageluk.  

There is a weather advisory for the Yukon River area for the next 24 hours and a winter weather warning for the Bering Sea Coast. The pattern has been several system that are bringing in more snow and wind to the area. 

The first musher is out of Ophir and the Iditarod Trail brakers are always ahead of the first musher, within a day the bikers should have a trail. The temperatures have been warm, so trails should pack down well and firm up, especially once it cools off a night. 

The race leader Jay P is making pretty good progress and is only 36 miles from Kaltag this morning. The word is that he is traveling behind a crew of snowmachiners heading up the trail.


Kathi MerchantComment
soft slow trail conditions for the racers heading north

Several racers, including me, one of the race directors, have been stranded in McGrath due to the snow fall.  It's creating poor visibility so the planes are having issues flying out.   I've been told the Pen Air flight is getting out later this afternoon. 

The race leader in the 1000 mile race, Jay Petervary, is out of Eagle Island  (mile 574) this afternoon. The middle of the pack is pushing through soft slow trails towards the Iditarod check point. Temperatures are close to 30 degrees F which makes for soft and slow trail conditions. At the moment Kyle, Troy, and Adam are moving at under 2 mph.

Runner Tim Hewitt has passed them up. The runners are making better progress at the moment than the bikers on the section between Ophir and Iditarod. 

Austrian runner Klaus Schweinberger and Thomas Keene are on route to McGrath this afternoon. 

The front runners of the Iditarod Sled Dog race will be in McGrath tonight.


Kathi MerchantComment
Twins Jen and Melissa finish at 8 am in McGrath this morning

Race leader in the 1000 mile race Jay Petervary is on his way to Eagle Island on the Yukon River. Racers between Ophir and Iditarod report strong winds and blown in trails, slow going. Runner Tim Hewitt has passed bikers Kyle, Adam and Troy. It's snowing in McGrath. The twins Jen and Melissa pushed their bikes into this remote town of 300 at 8 am this morning. Congratulations! Behind them on the trail remain Klaus from Austria and Thomas Keene from Tennessee. They are expecting the first mushers to arrive in Nikolai this morning. 

Kathi Merchant
co race director

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Kathi MerchantComment
Race leader Jay Petervary is almost in Grayling

Race leader Jay Petervary is almost to Grayling.  Phil is currently resting in Shageluk.

Kyle Durand is reporting waist deep snow with gale force winds just past the Tolstoi cabin.  He is traveling with Adam and Troy.  With Beat and Craig leaving McGrath this morning, we now have 12 racers on the trail headed to Nome.

6 more racers remain on the trail in the 350 mile event. Carole and Jill are expected to finish this evening. The twins, Jen and Melissa, and Klaus are also on the way. 

Our Nikolai checker Janny Moser has stayed on longer to wait for Thomas Keene in the checkpoint at the community center.

Temperatures have warmed up into the 20's with ice dripping off the roof here in McGrath. It is supposed to get into the 30's later this week in the daytime.  The Iditarod sled dog race started yesterday and we expect the first musher to be in McGrath Tuesday night. 

Warm temperatures make for mushy soft trails in the daytime, but could freeze up if temperatures drop at night time making it easier to ride.

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Kathi MerchantComment
Lindsay Cameron sets a new women's ski record

Day 7 in McGrath.  The weather has been mild for the Interior of Alaska with daytime temperatures in the balmy teens to 20 degrees.

David Frearson from New Zealand was the first racer to arrive today day on bike.  Grant Maughn finishes in third place in the running division with David and Gavin tying for first place.

A total of 12 racers arrived in McGrath today including the highlight of the day, Lindsey Cameron from Fairbanks.  She is the first woman since 2005 to complete the 350 mile trek by ski since Gail Koepf in 2005. 

Lindsay owns the new women's ski record in 7 days and 52 minutes shaving 5 hours off the previous record.

Several more racers departed McGrath this morning heading to Nome including Tim, Troy, Toni, Kyle, Adam. 

The race leader Jay P is out of Shageluk this evening.


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Kathi MerchantComment
Day 7

Temperatures have warmed up into the 20's here in McGrath.  More racers have arrived and finished and many have departed back to Anchorage.

Jay Petervary, the leader in the 1000 mile race, arrived at the Iditarod check point today, 

Skier Lindsay Cameron is on her way to McGrath this morning. Several racers were resting in Nikolai as well as the Bear Creek cabin this morning.

RD Kyle Durand and Adam Erritzoe are heading out of McGrath towards Takotna, Ophir this morning. Troy Szcurkowski and Toni Lund departed McGrath earlier this morning.

Kathi Merchant

co race director

Kathi MerchantComment
snow in McGrath followed by blue skies and sun

The weather forecast for McGrath:

Mostly cloudy in the evening then becoming partly cloudy. Lows 9 to 14 above. Light winds.
Mostly cloudy. A chance of snow in the afternoon. Highs in the mid to upper 20s. Light winds.
Sunday Night
Snow. Areas of freezing fog. Snow accumulation around 2 inches. Lows in the mid teens to lower 20s. Light winds.

It has been a slow day in McGrath with no additional arrivals since Scott.  Several finishers flew out this morning on Pen Air.  Kyle Durand, Adam Erritzoe, Toni Lund, Jim Ishman and Troy Szczurkowski are staying another night in McGrath before heading back out on the trail to Nome.  We are expecting Tim Hewitt and several more riders later tonight.

The lead woman in the running division is Canadian Jessie Thompson-Gladish,  who is on her way to Nikolai this afternoon.

The lone female skier is rookie Lindsay Cameron from Fairbanks.  The last woman to finish the 350 mile event on ski was Gail Koepf in 7 days 6 hrs 18 min in 2005.

The last racer on the trail is runner Thomas Keene, who is 61 miles from Nikolai.

1000 mile event:

Jay Petervary is 8 miles from the Moose Creek shelter cabin and Phil Hofstetter is not far behind him.

Kathi MerchantComment
Scott Hoberg Withdrawal

Scott Hoberg, the athlete who led the ITI 350 foot division for most of the race, has scratched approximately 20 miles short of McGrath after developing a mild case of hypothermia. He was transported to the McGrath medical clinic and was released after a short evaluation and minor treatment. 

Scott is now at the McGrath checkpoint enjoying a warm breakfast and the company of his fellow ITI athletes.

Kathi MerchantComment