Jeff Oatley Wins 2009 Iditarod Trail Invitational

While the Iditarod Sled Dog race got this past weekend underway, another Alaskan classic, the Iditarod Trail Invitational, also known as the “Idita-bike.” This annual event has the competitors following the same trail as the mushers, but they race along on foot, mountain bikes, or skis instead and tackle either a 350-mile course or the full 1100 miles of the Iditarod trail.

Mountain biker Jeff Oatley was the first to complete the 350-mile course, crossing the finish line on Saturday, 5 days, 19 hours, and 34 mins. Tracey and Jay Petervary, who tied for second with 6 days 5 hrs 28 min. You can check the full results on the leaderboard page, which has current standings for all who have finished and for the few that will continue on to Nome.

Most of their racers will finish up in McGrath, the 350-mile point, but a handful, roughly three or four, will have a go at the full 1100 mile course. They are moving forward on skis or on foot, but none are continuing on their bikes.

In a related story, an Australian competing in the race was rescued from the trail on Saturday after getting lost early last week. The 53-year-old went down the wrong trail last Tuesday, ended up breaking through ice on a river, and soaking himself before managing to pull himself and his bike from the water.

Eventually, he found a snow cave and holed up until he was rescued. A scary story with a good ending for once. He could have easily died of hypothermia out there in the wilderness.

Thanks to Andrew Felix, who sent this story to me via Twitter.

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