Race Update – 24 February 2013

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.

Race Update – 24 February 2013

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.



Race Update – 23 February 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

Race Update – 12 February 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

Race Update – 19 February 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.


Race Update – 18 February 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.



Race Update – 28 January 2013

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

Race Update – 30 November 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


Race Update – 21 October 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!


Race Update – 4 March 2012

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

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