Tyson Flaharty wins the 350 mile race. A new champion. 1 day 23 hours 54 minutes

Current conditions in McGrath: 14F 2/26 9:20 PM
current conditions in Skwentna: 4 F 2/26 9:20 PM

We have a new champion in the 350 mile champion in McGrath. He wins the 350 mile ITI in 1 days 23 hours 54 minutes. Tyson is from Fairbanks and this is his second year in the ITI. He was second to Tim Berntson in 2016.

Rebecca Rush is the leading woman and she has arrived at the 200 mile Rohn check point. Most of the field is now between Skwentna and Rohn. Local skier Lars Danner is the Red Lantern on the trail.

The temperature is 12 degrees here in McGrath, blue skies and sunny. I had a great flight on Alaska Air Transit on the mail plane today from Nikolai. It is just a little hop between these two communities. These towns and villages are not road accessible for those not from Alaska following this event. Once a year they are connected by a thin white line in the snow, the Iditarod Trail during the Iron Dog, ITI and Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

All the supplies, food, mail, volunteers and even tax accountants come in on airplanes. There is no highway or road system out here in the bush of Alaska. It takes people and all the different events doing their part putting in a trail. Putting in a trail here means not just driving a snowmobile. Sometimes cutting trees, shoveling sidehills and building ice bridges in the fast flowing Dalzell Creek in the Dalzell Gorge is neccessary to get to the Tatina which then takes racers into the remote Rohn check point. There is a small BLM cabin, population zero. We fly in a wall tent, wood stove and drop bags a week before the start.

Our Rohn crew serve brats to the hungry racers.

On the first part of the race course there are several lodges catering to trail travelllers whether they are on a snowmobile, fat bike , ski, on foot, dog team or come in by airplane.

Longtime host Peter Schneiderheize told us it was -20 last night here which is typical for this time of the year. We have seen -40 in many years past.

The 4 fat bikers report good trails, despite a lot of snow on the trail this year, we heard rumors of lots of overflow due to the recent snowfall. But the riders into Nikolai so far report none.

Nobody expected such a fast pace, close to the 2015 record year. The racers also report no wind drifted trails either. Warm temps, followed by snowmobile traffic, followed by cold temperatures at night, set the trails up once again for a fast ride in the 350 mile race.

What was different about the year 2015 when John Lackey set the 1 day 18 hours record was that there was no snow on many sections of the trail compared to this year.

The forecast calls for fairly mild conditions, partly cloudy skies and lows in 5-10 F at night.

tyson finish mcgrath.jpg

Daytime temperatures are much warmer, days are getting longer by 10 minutes every day in February. Soon it will be spring and the Iditarod Trail will melt out and disappear until it is created new the following year.

I had a beautiful flight over to McGrath today.

We are waiting for 3 more bikers today, all ITI veterans, Jay P, Clinton and Peter B.

The bulk of the racers is now between Skwentna Roadhouse mile 90 and McGrath spread out over 300 miles of trail.

Kathi Merchant

co race director from McGrath

Kathi MerchantComment
Race leader Tyson Flaharty is in Nikolai at 4:40 am this morning

Tyson Flaharty from Fairbanks is crushing it! He arrives in Nikolai at 4:40 this morning. This is his second year racing in the ITI. He is close to John Lackey’s record time of 1 day 18 hours to McGrath, the record.

He looks good and he sounds good. He plans to take a rest here in Nikolai. The next racer behind him is Jay Petervary who is 23 miles out of Nikolai.

Crispin Studer wins the 150 mile race to Rainy Pass Lodge. Congratulations. Crispin is from Switzerland, he lives in the Yukon Canada, he is a rookie this year.

7 racers were resting at the 150 mile mark at Rainy Pass Lodge this morning including 1000 mile leader Troy Szcurkowski and leading woman Rebecca Rush in her rookie year on the Iditarod Trail.

Leading racer in the running category is rookie racer Rob Henderson at mile 118. Tim Hewitt is leading the running race to Nome, his 12th time going to Nome at route mile 92.

First skier is Askjorn Skjoth at route mile 85.

Current temperature in Nikolai: -12 F.

Current temperature in Puntilla/Rainy Pass Lodge:7F

20190226_062126 (1).jpg
Kathi MerchantComment
2/25 at 11:00 PM race report from Nikolai

race report from Nikolai-Kathi Merchant co race director

current weather/conditions in Nikolai:

18 F , partly sunny, no wind.

Rainy Pass Lodge on Puntilla Lake mile 150 reports 3 F and no wind, clear skies.

The temperature dropped to -25 F on the Yentna River last night and at least 4 people have frostbitten face, fingers and toes.

There are 10 scratches so far:

David Barker Milner, Thomas Keene,Teri Buck, Tony Newton, John Berryman, Tobias Bos, Ronnie Carrara, Bartosz Skowronski.

Thomas Keene walked back to Knik Lake. David Barker Milner got a ride back to Anchorage.

I only recive face book messages from our checker at Yentna Station,so I don’t have too many details on exactly why they scratched. All I know there is some frostbite and general fatigue. Regal Air was taking those racers back to
Anchorage today.

We have corrected the tracker mulfunctions Dennis Staley and Tyson Flaharty who is now in the lead and on his way to the Rohn check point, over the Alaska Range (Rainy Pass).

Race leader Tyson is in Rohn mile 200. His chasers are Jay Petervary 12 miles from Rohn and Clinton Hodges 16 miles from Rohn. Behind is Peter Basinger. Both veterans with many finishes, wins as well as course records.

All of them are entered in the largest field and most competitive distance of 350 miles.

Leader in the 1000 mile distance is Troy Szurkowski, also a race veteran with 3 finishes in Nome.

The first woman is Rebecca Rush is in Fingerlake ( Winterlake Lodge) on a fat bike.

Asbjorn Skjoth Bruun is the first skier and he is 72.3. He is a rookie racer. Local skier Lars Danner is at mile 55.6 currently.

First on foot is Rob Henderson at mile 85, he is a rookie this year.

After arriving in Nikolai with our 2 volunteers Kiwi Lucas Smith ( second year in Nikolai) and George Grigonis from Philadelphia.

I was told by locals there is a significant amount of overflow between Nikolai and McGrath up to waist deep in places due to the recent snow and warm temperatures. It is springlike here and way too warm according to the locals. Nikolai is a small athabascan village along the Kuskoskwim River with about 90 people. It is quiet here. There is a church, school, city building, airport, post office and small general store. There some activity here, locals are setting up check points for the mushers race, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race which starts this coming Sunday.

Kathi Merchant in Nikolai
co race director

February 25 2019

Alaska Range
Kathi MerchantComment
Tyson Flaharty from Fairbanks is the new leader this morning

Tyson Flaharty is the current leader, 12 miles from the halfway point in less than 24 hours from the start. Anchorage rider Clinton Hodges is only 4 miles behind and Jay Petervary from Idaho is 4 miles back from Clinton. Peter Basinger is in fourth place and had left the Winterlake CP this morning as well. Jay and Peter are longtime competitors in the ITI with wins and records. Clinton Hodges is on his fourth race to McGrath and has placed in the top 3 before, but never won.

The 2019 ITI took off yesterday at 2 PM under blue skies. Jay P and Clinton Hodges were in the lead last night into Yentna Station and Skwentna Roadhouse, the second check point. Tyson’s tracker battery was low and it has been replaced. He is tracking now. The tracker made a straight line after replacing the batteries, but he was on track. Dennis Staley’s tracker is also working again. David Barker Milner took a fall and hurt his shoulder. He got a ride back to Anchorage last night from a local biker. Thomas Keene seems to be heading back to Knik Lake as well. We will write an update on him when we find out why.

Racers have been making great progress on the Yentna River last night, passing through the first two check points. The temperature was -10 F last night on the Yentna River. Today’s forecast calls for temperatures in the 20’s under sunny blue skies. Co race director Kyle Durand is on the trail and he was leaving the Skwentna check point with our trail photographer.

I am heading out to Nikolai today to get the check point set up there with our trail crew and I will be in McGrath at the finish line starting Tuesday. There is only GCI cell phone coverage there, none in Nikolai.

My new number in McGrath is (907) 574-0425 for anyone that needs to reach me in case of an emergnecy.

Kathi Merchant

co race director

Kathi MerchantComment
Latest News January 18,2019

Time is flying! It is finally 2019. The ITI roster ist filled with 95 participants from 21 different countries. Rivers are frozen, there is snow on the ground and Alaska just went through a -50 spell in the Interior of Alaska.

Athletes can download the latest race info here:


We are getting ready for our annual winter training camp on Flathorn Lake February 11-15. We have 3 spots left.

After the earthquake the Westmark Hotel is currently under construction and we have moved the ITI participants to the Inlet Towers Hotel.

We are excited to announce the world premiere of the film “Safety to Nome”. It is 86 minutes long. It was filmed on the Iditarod Trail during the event in 2017 and will be showing at film festivals this year. Produced by Asymetriq it will show at the Bear Tooth theaterpub on Thursday February 21 at 5:30 PM. Tickets will go on sale at the Bear Tooth box office on February 5th.

Kathi M.

co race director

Kathi MerchantComment
ITI 2019 Lottery Results

Lottery Winners

Congratulations to the following people, who were selected to participate in the 2019 Iditarod Trail Invitational. We look forward to having you join us on the Iditarod Trail in February!

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 BIKE 1000 - Donald Kane

🇺🇸 (AK) SKI 350 - Aurora Agee

🇺🇸 (AK) BIKE 350 - Kate Batten

🇺🇸 BIKE 350 - Brian Broomall

🇨🇦 BIKE 350 - Shawn Campbell

🇳🇴 BIKE 350 - Martin Cunat

🇺🇸 (AK) FOOT 350 - Brady Gross

🇦🇺 FOOT 350 - Dmitry Lysenko

🇺🇸 FOOT - Tom Rogozinski

Photo: RJ Sauer

Kyle DurandComment

We opened lottery applications for the 350 mile and 1000 mile events this month. We will select participants to fill the remaining spots on the 2019 race roster on October 1 which is coming up in just 11 days!

The leaves are falling off the trees here in Alaska and it is time to think about winter events, gear set up and training for winter ultras!

Our annual Iditarod Trail winter training camp on Flathorn Lake is taking place Monday -Friday February 11-15, 2019 this coming year and open to fat bikers as well as runners this year.

There will be two instructors (Kathi Merchant and Kyle Durand) as well as local race veterans offering advice on everything cold weather and endurance related to gear, clothing, training, navigation, fueling on the trail. There is a lot of experience to be shared with camp participants from those those race veterans and race organizers!

ITI training camp & 150 mile combo special

We are offering a $300 discount ( $1400 instead of $1700) for camp participants signing up for the Alaska training camp and the new halfway race (150 miles) with a finish and meal/overnight at the oldest hunting lodge in Alaska, Rainy Pass Lodge, a stunning location in the Alaska Range just below the famous Rainy Pass!

Kathi MerchantComment
2019 roster is live September 1,2018

The 2019 roster was posted and is live on the website on September 1. We also are offering a discount of $300 ($1400 instead of $1700) for a package booking the Flathorn ITI training camp (February 11-15.2019) 5 days this year for runners and cyclists and participation in the same year in the 150 mile race with a finish at Rainy Pass Lodge at Puntilla Lake in the Alaska Range. This is a very attractive distance for runners especially. It also will give racers a taste of the mountains with a more challenging terrain including the Happy River Steps and an elevation gain in hilly terrain into the Alaska Range. Rainy Pass Lodge sits at a beautiful stunning location in the mountains and is also the oldest hunting lodge in Alaska. Finishers will enjoy a meals at this lodge before returning by bush plane to Anchorage. There are only 7 more spots left in the 150 mile distance.

Kathi MerchantComment
application new 150 mile event

We have opened registrations online for the new 150 mile race from Knik to Rainy Pass Lodge for the 2019 event. Applicants need to have one 100 mile winter qualifier or other winter expedition or high altitude mountaineering experience to enter this event.

The entry fee is $750.

Online application:





Kathi MerchantComment
Looking forward to next year

Thank you everyone for following the 2018 ITI! It was a great event. Thank you to all of our check points, lodges, sponsors, volunteers, lodge owners, trail breakers, trail support and everyone involved with the event on the trail and behind the scenes!!

We are looking forward to seeing you again in 2019! We will open entries to veterans April 1 and rookies on April 8th this month.

The 2019 application and payment system will be online soon!

We are looking forward to seeing everyone next year!

Kathi Merchant & Kyle Durand
co race directors

Kathi MerchantComment
5 more finishers in Nome

5 more racers finished in Nome at the end of the 1000 mile Iditarod Trail. Adam Erritzoe from Denmark finished in 6th place yesterday evening in 26 days 4 hours and 51 minutes. 
Craig Bullen from Canada: 26 days 11 hours 41 minutes 7th place
Kyle Durand from Washington: 26 days  11 hours 43 minutes 8th place
Peter Ripmaster from North Carolina: 26 days  13 hours 44 minutes 9th place first runner
Toni Lund from Finland 26 days 19 hours 18 minutes 10th place



Peter Ripmaster finishing in Nome last night

Peter Ripmaster finishing in Nome last night

Kyle Durand under the Nome arch 1000 mile finish line

Kyle Durand under the Nome arch 1000 mile finish line

Craig Bullen finish Nome

Craig Bullen finish Nome

Toni Lund from Finland finisher in Nome today

Toni Lund from Finland finisher in Nome today

Kathi MerchantComment
6 more racers expected to finish in Nome tonight

6 more racers, 4 bikers and 2 runners are on route to Nome today, traveling in a tight pack of 6.

We expect more finishers tonight in Nome.

Unfortunately Klaus decided to end his race in Unalakleet. He did send a message from Unalakleet this morning:


Dear Kathi, as my body has not recovered from the hard work from Iditarod to Kaltag, I was so unhappy with my performance on the stretch to Unalakleet that I decided to stop the race here! It is very sad but I do not feel safe stepping on the sea ice with no energy in spare. Despite that I do not and will not complain about anything, it is quite the opposite: I was surprised about far I could go but I made mistakes with my nutrition, lesson learned I guess!

I do not want to lose finger(s) and/or toes just because I push beyond my personal safety limits! Besides: Snowshoes suck: they are rubbing both of my shoe pairs so that little holes where moisture gets in during the day and in the night toes freeze! 

However: I‘ll be back, another year another trail!! This one wa hard but golden, the end is sad for me but I had many hours to verify myself... If you do not feel that you get to Nome, you won‘t!!!

Kathi MerchantComment
On route to Nome

5 more racers are on route to Nome today. Kyle Durand, Adam Erritzoe, Toni Lund, Craig Bullen and Peter Ripmaster enjoyed Joanna's hospitality in White Mountain and they are on their final 77 miles to Nome now. Peter is the leading runner in the 1000 mile race. 

Beat Jegerlehner is currently resting in White Mountain. Austrian Klaus is traveling over the Kaltag portage at a steady speed.

Kyle Durand. image Craig Bullen

Kyle Durand. image Craig Bullen

Peter Ripmaster, image Craig Bullen

Peter Ripmaster, image Craig Bullen

Kyle Durand pushing his bike. Image Craig Bullen.

Kyle Durand pushing his bike. Image Craig Bullen.

Kathi MerchantComment
Troy finishes in Nome today under tough trail conditions

Troy Szcurkowski from Australia finishes his third 1000 mile race in Nome this afternoon in 23 days 22 hours 39 minutes! Congratulations Troy! 

The leading runner Peter Ripmaster has caught the 4 bikers and they are currently resting in the school in Goloving. They have been crushed by the trail. They had to carry their bikes over snow drifts at times. This is a big snow year on the coast and the wind has been blowing steady as well. obliterating the trail with snow drifts.

The 4 bikers are planning to spend the night in Goloving and get a good rest, as well as the leading runner Peter. They plan to depart Golovin in the morning.

Two more runners are on the trail Beat and Klaus.Beat is on the way to Golovin. Klaus has left Kaltag today.



Kathi MerchantComment
Perseverance and patience to get to Nome


Quote RJ Sauer: 2014
"Inevitably the question is asked: ‘so why did you do it?’


It's been taking Troy much longer than expected to get into Nome with all the new snow, wind and snow drifts. He is currently 9 miles out of Nome at 10 am this morning.

Klaus Schweinberger called with Skype from Kaltag. He is in good spirits, the trek on the Yukon River was really slow he said. He did not see anyone out there. Only him and the 2 mile wide Yukon River. Quite a spiritual experience. He is glad to see people, find a warm place inside and a village to recuperate before tackling the 80 mile Kaltag portage from Kaltag to the coast in Unalakleet. There are two BLM shelter cabins on that stretch for him to stop and rest. Good luck Klaus!

Looks like the 4 bikers Kyle, Adam, Toni and Craig have made slow progress as well due to the many snow drifts on the trails. Peter Ripmaster the leading runner in the 1000 mile distance is about to catch up to them. He is currently only 3 miles behind them and moving at faster speeds walking than the 4 bikers pushing their bikes through snow drifts. Hang in there guys, patience and perserverance will get you to Nome!


Nora Nagaruk sent this image from Nome this morning.

Nora Nagaruk sent this image from Nome this morning.

Kathi MerchantComment
Klaus Schweinberger from Austria, the lone runner and last person on the Yukon

The red lantern racer is Klaus Schweinberger from Austria. He has been on the Yukon River for nearly 5 days since leaving Grayling on March 15. He is 9 miles from the next village he will hit today after traveling alone on the 120 miles of frozen Yukon River. Klaus has been to Nome before on the Northern Route on a previous year. He is moving at 1.5 mph this morning. Keep on going Klaus!!

Image taken by Jenny Moser in Nikolai earlier in the race

Image taken by Jenny Moser in Nikolai earlier in the race

Kathi MerchantComment
Patience, persistence, strength and putting one foot in front of the other

Cyclist as well as the runners left in the 2018 ITI 1000 mile event are reporting drifted in slow trails with sastrugi created by the wind making travel slow. Troy is currently resting at the Topkok musher's cabin only about 40 miles from Nome, RD Kyle, Adam, Toni and Craig are in Elim reporting similar slow, very challenging pushing conditions. Beat is reporting slow going on the sea ice as well with wind blown trails. There is not much traffic now on the trails with the Iditarod Dog Race finished. Be patient ITI racers and keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will get to Nome!

"Enduring 5 snow fronts in less than two days that buried the trail in over a foot of snow and winds that would knock us off our feet, we made the group decision to make camp after breaking trail for 16 hours. We dug a hole big enough for the 4 of us and used our bicycles and the removed snow to create a wind break, creating a calm port in the storm to cook dinner and to sleep for a few hours. #iti2018 — withCraig Anthony Bullen and Adam Erritzøe.

ITI 2018b.jpg
Enduring 5 snow fronts in less than two days that buried the trail in over a foot of snow and winds that would knock us off our feet, we made the group decision to make camp after breaking trail for 16 hours. We dug a hole big enough for the 4 of us and used our bicycles and the removed snow to create a wind break, creating a calm port in the storm to cook dinner and to sleep for a few hours.  #iti2018  — with Craig Anthony Bullen  and  Adam Erritzøe .

Enduring 5 snow fronts in less than two days that buried the trail in over a foot of snow and winds that would knock us off our feet, we made the group decision to make camp after breaking trail for 16 hours. We dug a hole big enough for the 4 of us and used our bicycles and the removed snow to create a wind break, creating a calm port in the storm to cook dinner and to sleep for a few hours. #iti2018 — withCraig Anthony Bullen and Adam Erritzøe.

Kathi MerchantComment