New snow, winds, drifts and slow trails for the remaining 8 racers in the race

Peter Ripmaster is the leading racer in the running division. He is in and out of Koyuk this morning 22 days into the 2018 race. Way to go Peter. Finisher shirt, finisher patch and hand made winner coffee mug from Palmer Alaska is waiting for you in Nome!

 

Troy's trail report on the final stretch to Nome! Slow going for everyone out there with new snow, blowing snow, drifted in trails and slow trails. Be patient and good luck everyone out there.

"

It's why they are called push bikes.

Let's back up a day or so. I got into elim about 8am after that all night push through storm and drift, rested at the school for a few hours then headed out for golovin.

The overland track is real nice through the spruce forest, rideable trail with a firm base. Then the exposed climbs began of little mckinley and back to the pushing. Flat light with no contrast made it hard to spot the firm base as snow and drift covered the trail. On the final descent at about 10pm the storm hit hard. Hard tailwind and heavy snow with it, would guess about 35+knots. I quickly layered up and ate/drank some before I got too embedded in this monster as I was still a long way from to golovin. Trail obliterated no riding. Storm howled all the way until I got into golovin at 3am. Hit the school and rested till 1pm and headed for white mountain. Another push with warm conditions -2C no traffic and slightly drifted trail. I managed about 10% riding on this flat section, with tyres aired way down to the point where the carcass is in danger of damage. I'll be leaving white mountain early in the hope the cooler temps of night might firm the trail up a bit.

Final push to nome haha. Topkok hills and the coastal blowhole are the last challenges... get after it! Might be another 2 days yet. Now isn't the time to get complacent either. Might be close to the finish but the coast has some potentially nasty spots. As they say most accidents happen within 5km radius of home.

My feet are in great shape and my boots are great to walk in. Just get into that cathartic groove and savour the memories of the last few weeks of this great race.

Troy."

Co race director Kyle Durand, Adam, Toni and Craig are moving slow as well pushing their bikes towares Elim. Troy is on the last few miles to Nome. It could take him another 24 hours to finish. 

 

 

troy 22.jpg
Kathi MerchantComment
8 racers remain on the trail to Nome, 5 bikers and 3 runners

After winds blowing all night, the streets in Nome were snow covered from drifting snow this morning. 8 racers remain on the trail to Nome. 5 cyclist and 3 runners, the last Austrian Klaus Schweinberger is still on his way up the Yukon River to Kaltag.

Peter Ripmaster was having a good time with the local kids in Unalakleet. His is on his way to Koyuk. Behind him 1000 mile veteran with 3 finishes Beat Jegerlehner from Colorado.

The next biker in Nome is Troy Szcurkowski from Australia, a previous finisher in the 1000 mile event. Behind him is an international field with Adam Erritzoe from Denmark, Toni Lund from Finland, Craig Bullen from Canada and co race director Kyle Durand from Washington, all first timers riding to Nome. Trails have drifted in and the bikers are pushing their bikes in many section of the trail.

Current weather conditions in White Mountain
:

Tonight

Snow showers likely. Areas of freezing fog. Snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches. Lows in the mid teens. Southwest winds 5 to 15 mph.

Monday

Snow in the morning, then snow showers in the afternoon. Areas of freezing fog. Snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches. Highs in the upper 20s. South winds to 10 mph increasing to 10 to 20 mph with gusts to around 35 mph in the afternoon.

 

Peter Ripmaster in Unalakleet

Peter Ripmaster in Unalakleet

Troy Szcurkowski from Australia

Troy Szcurkowski from Australia

Image Craig Bullen

Image Craig Bullen

Image Craig Bullen

Image Craig Bullen

Adam Erritzoe image Craig Bullen


Adam Erritzoe image Craig Bullen

Image Craig Bullen

Image Craig Bullen

Toni Lund from Finland

Toni Lund from Finland

Kathi MerchantComment
The remaining cyclist are getting caught in windy conditions and coastal storm

The remaining cyclist in the 2018 1000 mile ITI are getting caught in a coastal storm rolling in this morning into the Bering Sea Coast between Uanalakleet and Nome. Troy is ahead and made it into Elim. Kyle Durance reports a tough 19 hour push from Shaktoolik to Koyuk last night traveling with Adam, Craig and Toni. They are currently resting, eating at the school in Koyuk. There is a winter weather advisory with winds gusts of up to 25 mph and low visibility due to blowing snow until tomorrow 7 AM Sunday morning. 

image Kyle Durand 

image Kyle Durand 

Kathi MerchantComment
3 bikers on route to Nome day 19

Nome local Phil Hofstetter and Fairbanks riders Kevin Breitenbach and Jay Cable are on their way to Nome this morning about 37 miles out. They left White Mountain early this morning. Reports are the winds are blowing 35-40 mph on the stretch to Safety. 

 

Kathi MerchantComment
Waiting in Nome for more cyclists to arrive

This is my second day in Nome waiting for more racers to arrive. The next 3 riders are Nome local Phil Hofstetter and Jay Cable and Kevin Breitenbach from Fairbanks. They have left Elim this morning and are on their way to Golovin. Troy Szcurkowski from Australia is crossing the sea ice between Shaktoolik and Koyuk. Co race director Kyle Durand, Toni Lund from Finland, Craig Bullen, Adam Erritzoe from Denmark are on their way to Shaktoolik. 

Beat gave this report from the Kaltag portage today.

"The Thursday morning report from Beat Jegerlehner: He had a good rest in Kaltag and is now on the move over the portage, leaving the Yukon River to traverse a wide pass to the coast at Unalakleet. Trail conditions are still drifted and soft, but he's been moving well after good sleep in the Kaltag School, his first indoor space in three days. Peter is back on a mission, flying down the trail this morning. Beat knows he still has a long way to go, and is content to continue his well-practiced methods of travel. The photo is one of Beat's, blowing snow on the Kaltag Portage in 2013.

 

beat.jpg
Kathi MerchantComment
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
jay nome 33.jpg
jay nome 44.jpg
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:

Today

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

Tonight
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.

Wednesday
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

craig bullen kaltag.jpg
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:

Today
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.

Tonight
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.

Tonight

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

Monday
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. 

OEs plane.jpg
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

jen and melissa at finsih.jpg
Kathi MerchantComment