Amidst the pack of mushers racing into Nome yesterday afternoon, a man on a fat-tire bike pulled under the burled arch to win the 2018 Iditarod Trail Invitational.
45-year-old Jay Petervary of Idaho won the human-powered, 1000-mile race across Alaska with a total time of 16 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes. It’s his third win and fourth finish in Nome, according to a race press release.
Petervary says finishing the race is an “overpowering” experience.
“After being embraced in something for so long, and so focused, and such a heightened awareness of so many other things, and now I’m here, and it’s just this really euphoric feeling. I don’t know, it’s amazing.”
The Iditarod Trail Invitational follows the route of the Iditarod sled dog race, but competitors started out from Knik Lake a week earlier than mushing teams, on February 25th.
Although “Idita-Riders,” as they’re called, don’t have dogs to keep them company on the trial, Petervary says he’s used to it.
“Everyone has a different personality, and I think you have to have the right personality to do something like this on your own. When I’m by myself, sometimes things can be easier, because I only have one thing to worry about, and that’s me.”
One thing Petervary didn’t have to worry about too much was his competitors. He had about a two-day lead over the next three racers when he finished yesterday at 2:45 pm. Currently in second position is Nome’s Phil Hofstetter, who’s resting in Elim along with Jay Cable and Kevin Breiteinbach, both of Fairbanks.
And for people feeling inspired by the athletic feats of this month, whether human or canine, Petervary offers this advice:
“You can’t just do it to say you did it. It’s entirely too hard. So you have to enjoy it. You have to want to be out there and do these things.”
13 racers are still out on the trail. And like the Iditarod sled dog race, the Invitational is a multinational event, with competitors representing six countries, from Canada to Australia.
Karen Trop contributed reporting.
Image at top: Jay Petervary hoists his bike above the air under the burled arch after winning the 2015 Iditarod Trail Invitational. (Photo: Francesca Fenzi, KNOM)