Safety to Nome (2019) - full transcript

Twenty-six ultra endurance athletes embark on a 1000-mile human powered race across Alaska on the Iditarod Trail, where being prepared - for anything - is the only way to guarantee your safety. Or your survival.


TIM: When I'm out there,
I think

this trail hasn't changed in
thousands of years, you know.

I'm sharing that trail
with ancestors,

and with people that went
out there to find gold,

you know, in the 1890s.

There's nothing that I
know of that's like it.

And when you're on the trail,
it's you and that trail alone.

FRANK: The Iditarod trail Invitational,
it's a race

of 350 miles to McGrath
starting from Anchorage.

For the people
who want to keep going,

you can go for 1000 miles to represent
the entire Iditarod sled dog race

up to Nome, the Bering Sea.

The race can be done
either on foot,

on a bike,
or on cross-country ski.

TROY: Nothing will challenge you,
I think,

quite like the Iditarod trail
Invitational would.

RJ: It's one of those races
where really anything can happen.

MAN 1:
This is the epitome of Winter Ultras.

MAN 2: This is the big one.
Certainly, going to Nome,

I imagine, has got to be the
toughest bicycle race on Earth.

And going to McGrath isn't
probably all that far behind.

BILL: My history of the
Iditarod trail began in 1998.

I heard about a race
from Knik to McGrath.

And I was a musher at the time.

So I took the front end
of my dog team

and went and did the race
to McGrath skijoring.

One year on the trail
to McGrath,

and I was addicted.

And I've been back every year since,
either as a competitor,

or as race marshal
slash trail breaker.

I met Frank
when I was planning

to do the 2014 race.

I couldn't have asked for a
better partner in this experience.

How far will we be able to go this year?

What kind of decision
will I have to take

to bring me to the finish line.

You need to be prepared for

whatever Mother Nature
decides to throw at us.

You don't have to take a decision
according to someone else,

or following the rules of something.
Here there's no rules.

The rules
is try to stay alive,

and if something is wrong,
you are the only one

responsible for the decision
you took.

And that's really exciting.

MAN: All right, here we go.

KATHI: I know Tim Hewitt has walked
on a stress fracture for 500 miles.

So he can do it.

He's back for his tenth go

to go to Nome.

TIM: What's bringing me back this
time is I want to do the bicycle.

The last few times I've had a
purpose each time that I've come.

This year I just want
to get to Nome on my terms,

and we'll see what happens.

Until I came to Alaska,
I didn't really know what wilderness was.

[CHUCKLES] But I was
very attracted to it.

When you're in it, there's just no
sign that humans have touched it.

WOMAN: Thanks, everyone,
for coming.

This is our 16th annual event.

Cut off times is four days
to Winter Lake,

five days
to Rainy Pass Lodge,

six days to Rohn,

ten days to McGrath,
and 30 to Nome.

Evacs are your responsibility.

I'm not going to give you
all the pricing

but don't scratch and run.


I'm afraid of a lot of things out there

and that's one of the reasons
I do stuff.

I'm actually kind of
a fearful person by nature.

I don't like that about myself,

my solution it
to confront my fears.

You got to go out there and push
yourselves and that's my inner calling.

You can't grow by sitting idle.

We don't challenge ourselves anymore.

And I think that's one of the opportunities
that this kind of race offers.

KATHI: There's one saying that Bill has
that we all have cracks in ourselves.

And then we come back
the next year

to see if we've done something
about those cracks.

It's not something to take lightly.

I know that's a concern
of Bill's,

is that people don't appreciate

how bad it can be out there.

There are always risks around every corner.

Thin ice across rivers,
that's something that you assess,

I guess,
minute by minute.

More than having respect for it,

you better be prepared to know what you're
going to do when you get into trouble.

As much as those conditions make me nervous,

I kind of like
those decisions.

I think it keeps you aware,

keeps you alert,
and you better be.

It's all about the risk
you want to take.

How willing are you
to spend the rest of your life

without your fingers,
or your feet?

Or how those that you love

spend the rest of their lives
without you?

Because that's the consequences
of not being prepared out here.

Feels great.

Feels like how I left it.

I'm anxious because I'm on a bike

and I don't have
the same level of confidence

in my abilities on the bike.

Always love these
last minute adjustments.

WOMAN: Okay,
less than two minutes.



BILL: I have never told anybody
what they need to survive.

I have let people make
their own decisions out here.

And then my responsibility

is to sit here and sweat blood

and hope that I made
the right decision

when I told them, "Yes,
you can come do this."

So when I make that decision,
and I don't have a board.

When I make that decision,
it's on me.

And what I'm saying
to that person

is, "Okay, you've convinced me

"that you're not going to hurt
yourself or die on me out here."

First couple of minutes are always intense.

Everyone's burning off
some sugars.

Everyone's pretty excited
about the Trail.

In the end, you know,
you just got to ride your own line.

Do your best

to stay upright
and frosty.

FRANK: On the Iditarod trail it's
going to be my fourth edition.

In 2012 I've done it on foot

and I've done the 350 miles.

I said if we go to Nome then
I'm going to go with a fat bike.

So that was in 2014.

And I had a huge meltdown.

And I poorly managed
that situation.

Last year I tried to get back
to 1000 miles

and I had to stop because I'd been
stuck in a blizzard for three days.

So I thought, "Okay, 2017,
let's go for it."

So here I am

hoping to be able to go
to Nome this time.

- MAN 1: You're good.
- MAN 2: We're good.

Gotta get me looking
fast one time.

That'll be much better
than this struggling.

TROY: Well, it's just become
a push-fest on Flathorn Lake.

There's a lot of overflow,

and it's very punchy,
the snow is very soft.

Overflow is caused on lakes and rivers.

If we have a lot of heavy snow,

it causes the ice to settle.

The ice has
little cracks in it.

And when the ice settles,
it puts more pressure on the water below,

and the water comes up
through the cracks in the ice

and fills all the low spots.

And I've always told racers,

"If there's water in the trail,
cross the water.

"If you step off the trail,
you may step into crotch-deep slushy."

- MAN 1: Everything okay?
- MAN 2: Yeah.

- MAN 1: Done?
- MAN 2: Yeah.

MAN 1: It's not pretty.

Keep working.


- MAN: Good stuff, guys.
- WOMAN: Thanks.

How are you feeling?

MAN 1: Hopefully,
get some drying going

and probably take off,
I don't know...

in half hour or 45 minutes.
Maybe an hour.

- Something like that.


- MAN 2: Oh, yeah. Looking good.
- MAN 1: Old Man Winter.

Yeah. I just saw myself.


- We'll hopefully make it to Finger Lake...
- MAN: Mm-hmm.

...before I fall apart.

I thought with the snow

it was going to be slower but
we're still moving pretty good.

So that's awesome.

Not too far back, him and Phil
look like they're riding together.

- Where are we?
- Right there.

Feels good to be dry.

See you down the trail, eh?

I've lived in Alaska for 15 years.

But there's never
a comfort level here.

I can leave my house for a bike
ride at night, and I get nervous.

I think that's kind of
the draw of Alaska

is there is that challenge

of trying to feel like you've got
some sort of control, and you don't.

KEVIN: Man, you guys are out here!

- What's that?
- MAN: How you doing, buddy?

KEVIN: Oh, hanging in there.

- It's not too bad.
- MAN: How's the trail?

KEVIN: It's been good.
Especially since Yentna it's been good.

There's big chunk
of overflow for a while.

- That kind of woke me up.
- MAN: Yeah.

Did you go through it all?

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah,
I had to put on waders

and went through it and then I went
back and found the way around it.


It's good, it wakes you up. You need
something a little different out there.

Otherwise nod off.

- Enjoy the evening, man.
- MAN: Yeah, I'll see you later.

Looking forward to some sleep.

We should be there.

- I don't know. I'm not...

RJ: We stopped at Cindy's cabin,
slept there for four, five hours.

Had food,
night and in the morning.

So we'll just probably
pop here for a quick snack

and warm beverage and
then carry on for the day.

It was a bit tough yesterday.

Actually today
I'm feeling really good.

FRANK: If the conditions are
fine you don't want to stop.

Because let's say I stop here,
I enjoy the moment,

but the storm
is may be coming.

Tomorrow it may
be totally different.

So what I haven't today
in a good condition,

may be much harder tomorrow
if it's snowing.

Or when the trail is not
in such a good condition.

So it's more the unknown.

It's just not knowing what's
going to happen next hour.

And that's one of the reasons
I'm coming here.

For the most part, I really,
really enjoy being out there.

People say,
"Why do you keep going back?"

I like it out there,
you know.

And I like the solitude.

- TIM: Going good, right?
- MAN: Yeah.

It was okay.

I mean, it's... The bike's a little
different than pulling the sled.

I'm not that good with
tire pressures and such.

So I was really squirrelly.

Yeah, I tried it in 2015,
but it was unsuccessful.

MAN: Okay.

I got to get this stupid thing done.


- FRANK: No more.
- TIM: Yeah, no more.

That's my bucket list item.

- MAN: And back to foot.
- No more.


RJ: I think people always ask,
"Why do you come back?"

I had a lot of people ask me that question,
you know,

"You went the first time,
you were able to finish the race,

"why would you go back?"

I think a lot of people
give similar answers.

I think there's something
about the trail that is very,

you know,
that lures you back in.

And it's an incredibly magical place,
and a magical feeling.

And I think, yeah, it's easy once
you've been away from it for a while

to want to go back
and feel that again.

It's pretty windy out there.

Oh gosh, the wind.

Mostly I just couldn't really
see upright on the bike,

so I had to push it.


All right. Nice.

- Hey, hey, awesome job!

WOMAN: Oh, yeah.

- Welcome!
- Thank you.

Right now we've got a rookie

with two of our top veterans,
you know.

I'm pretty impressed
with Neil Beltchenko.

And that big smile he came through
this blizzard with into Rob.

That is way impressive.

That's a badass young man.

KEVIN: Well,
it'll be sweet if no one else came.

'Cause it just gets
crowded quick.

We left the Rainy Lodge
at two o'clock yesterday.

We bivvy'd for four hours
and it's been nonstop.

Probably what,
30 miles of pushing, or more.

It's bad wind.

It's like filling the trail in
pretty quick.

So I think it's going to
be the same for everyone.

It's a long 80 miles.

And with this wind

it's gonna be kinda rough out there,
I think.

Tough to be blown into.

JAY: Well, we say,
traveling on the Iditarod trail,

I don't need
to answer the phone.

I don't need to answer
to anybody.

I just need to take care
of myself and keep moving.

There's also a mentality
of enjoying what you're doing.

I don't like the word "suffering."
Hate it.

I don't like
being called crazy.

I volunteered
to do this myself.

I sign up for it,
I pay money for it,

I work at it,
I've turned it into a living.

I enjoy it.

It's a really special place.

You go inside of yourself and it's a
whole different world of hyper focus.

And your aching legs
and the screaming blizzard

becomes part of
the background.

If someone was
watching you do this,

they would think
the conditions were horrible.

But right now
you're in your little place,

and it's not really that bad.


You do think about the trail

and when it's good
and you're happy

and, you know,
you're pinching yourself

because you can't believe
you have this opportunity.

You also know that
it's going to get bad.

When the trail is good,

you want to take
what the trail will give you

and really make time.

Because I know
it's going to get bad.

And some people, I think,
get into negative places

when that trail gets bad,
when that storm comes in,

when that headwind
starts blowing.

But I know it's coming.

So I'm kind of
prepared for it.

I'm happy when
it isn't like that

but I know it's coming.


My bike went through the ice.

My shifter was frozen
and I just forced it

and it wouldn't do anything.

I kept mistakenly clicking
the up gear.

You know,
and I was fussing with it.

So I was okay
when I was stuck in third,

but when it got up to 11,
I was in trouble.

- MAN: Gotcha.

- I screwed around for about
three hours with that.

How far is Rohn?

Twenty miles?
Oh, I thought we were almost around.

All right.
I better walk to keep warm.

KEVIN: Rohn is about 130 miles

from the finish in McGrath.

In a way we're on
the easy part of the race

for the 350.

You've made it across
the Alaska Range.

If you've made it this far,

and you're physically
in good shape,

you've probably got McGrath.

And that feels good.

- MAN 1:
I'll get you something warm to drink, okay?

- RJ: Please.

- MAN 1: Hot coco?
- Hot coco would be great.

RJ: Done.

MAN 2:
Where did you bivvy last night?

at the pass did you see that little cabin?

It was a little cabin on the right.
You can't get in it.

So we just bivvy'd there.

It was so windy.

It was unbelievable,
we could barely move.

So we just pulled over.
We actually made a fire.

Frank is not doing great.

He's coughing,
hacking up a lung.

- Oh, really?
- I think he might be done here, too.

His chest is bad.

So he told me go on 'cause he's
going to probably walk most of it.

- I broke through the ice on the river.
- Oh, did you?

- I broke through, it went up to my thighs.
- Oh, no.

So that pretty much
ended my race right there.

I'm glad you guys were safe.

We were wondering about the folks
that were bivvying out last night.

'Cause it was just heinous.

Maybe, like,
it's a safety cone

and there's like a hole in the water there.


My lungs are not
doing that well.

I can hear my GP say,
"You shouldn't go, you shouldn't go."

He gave me the inhaler.

And he said,
"No more than five times a day."

And I've done five times
in three hours.

MAN: How's your throat feeling?

It's burning everywhere
all my ribcage.

It started here then it went down here,
now it's everywhere.


Hello, gentlemen.
What are you guys doing here?

Now although we broke it up.
We went half way,

and then bivvy'd
on the trail.

Had a good sleep.
We've been taking it really conservatively,

so we feel really strong
right now.

MAN: How's it going?

I feel dry,
but you see the blisters?

MAN: Oh, fuck, Guy.

Oh, shit.

GUY: That's a problem,

Sorry to be
such a jovial prick.

That's searing stuff.

Can you feel that?

- GUY: No.
- No problem.

- How about here?
- Yeah, I can feel over there.

We're going to watch you,
keep your hands warm.

RJ: You're doing your own thing,
moving along the trail.

Then all of a sudden you
end up in a transition area,

and you see what other people
are going through.

And all of a sudden I realized that
a lot of people were in trouble.

Frost bite on fingers on noses,
on feet.

People were going through
the river.

These are all the problems that you could,
you know, run into

but you were able
to get through.

- FRANK: You put a tarp on top of you?
- RJ: I'm going to.

Just to keep some of
the snow off.

You're going to look like a Burger King.

- What?

FRANK: You're going to look
like a Burger King burger.

RJ: That's right.

FRANK: Ah, I'm short of breath.


My kit's really small
compared to that one.

GUY: You know,
it was quite painful last night.

Didn't get much sleep.

I must have made
a mistake somewhere.

MAN: Hey, Guy,
it could happen to anyone of us.

Anyone of us.

MAN: It was really cold.


- I got numb.
- It could happen to anyone of us.

Right now what I could tell you is

we'll have a flight for you

between two hours and two
and half days from now on.


- But I hope...
- You sound like American Airlines.

And about as useful.

Okay. Cool.

KEVIN: I would try to keep those
wrapped up as much as you can.

- GUY: Okay.
- You know, things will... It's just

you got a deep penetration into
your body there at that point now.

So, one person out in the previous
seven years on the airplane,

and so far we've got eight

that have been flown
out here now.

And maybe some more,
maybe not, we'll see.

The plane is supposed to come
in about 30 minutes or so.

Um, back to Anchorage.

So, lucky the weather is helping
us to have a plane to take us.

Could be stuck here
for a while otherwise.

RJ: I know he was fighting
through and trying to persevere,

but it wasn't getting better.

And so him having to drop out was definitely,
you know, devastating.

But I had to really quickly
get out of there.

Because I think that all
of that can suddenly affect,

you know,
your own sense of mortality in the race.

And right now
there's no wind.

It's blue sky, it's still...
Which is it right now?

Minus 15 Celsius,

I mean, it's ridiculous.

the choice has been made.

I may regret it.

It won't be the first time I make
a choice that I regret after.

I know how
it's going to work.

We come here
to challenge ourselves,

but also to challenge
the wilderness,

which is pretty arrogant.

Yeah, it's part of the race.

I'm completely and utterly gutted.

It is a mistake.

There's a few other people with frostbite
and they would've also made mistakes.

'Cause there's a lot of people out
there who haven't got frostbite.

TIM: When it's the weather that
causes people to not finish,

then it was the fact

that they weren't prepared
either equipment wise,

or in inexperience
to use it properly.

And that's what being comfortable
and taking care of yourself

out here is all about.

It's having the fore thought,

you know,
to take care of problems before they come up.

And then you
just have obstacles.

Obstacles to overcome,

not problems to solve.

Flying back today I was just looking at it

and felt very empty.

I'm not so sure what I'll
be doing with the hands.

It's quite a mission having
both hands in bandages.

It's a very selfish sport,
endurance racing.

You know, you go through a six
or seven-hour training ride

in the morning and maybe
something in the afternoon.

You're not great company
in between.

And then,
you lose out on the weekends.

So it's time to give back,
I think.

TROY: We're out here on the trail
between Bear Creek and Nikolai.

The day has certainly turned,
we've had a bit of snow overnight.

Trail's got a little bit of
dusting on it this morning.

But, yeah,
another 800 miles.

You know, it is what it is. I guess when
it starts to feel like it's getting tough,

then you start to think everyone
else is hurting just as much.

So, you're nothing special.

- Good to see you.
- Same to you, girl.

- How you doing?
- Pretty good.

Nice job.

I know, it got really cold.

Get in here.

God, it's good to see you.

KEVIN: Yesterday I was just dead
tired and I felt every rib in, like,

hundred feet of trees,
I'd stop.

'Cause I'm going on to Nome so I
wasn't pushing like these guys.

I wasn't, you know,
trying to kill myself.

I was riding today,
and I was thinking,

"This is still a lot easier than
taking care of a two-year-old."

Like, this is...
I'd still much rather do this.

I haven't had anyone hitting me,
or yelling at me, you know.

I kind of feel bad
being gone for so long.

- Yeah, this is my fourth time.
- MAN: Fourth time to Nome?

Ah, no.
I haven't gone to Nome yet.

This is my fourth time
getting here at least.

TIM: Once you get to McGrath,

it changes from a race to an
adventure for whatever reason.

TIM: Well,
Nome is three times the distance to McGrath,

but it's exponentially
bigger commitment.

It's not only three times as long,
it's ten times as hard.

RJ: Going to Nome,
you have to work under the assumption

that you're going to get
every possible condition.

KEVIN: I'm extremely nervous
about just leaving here.

I've never been anywhere
past here ever.

From here Ruby is about
just under 200 miles.

There's no communities,
no one uses the trail.

I don't know if I'm going
to be walking a 100 miles.

I don't know
if I'll be riding at all.

And now I'm going to
take off tomorrow.

Maybe a day ahead of anyone else who's
going to be following along with me.

I don't have a way to bail out.
If I leave here, I just, I go.

I'm really nervous right now.

Probably more nervous
than the start of the race.

The trail does that to you,
Alaska does that to you.

It could be a real challenge this year.

I mean, without trail breakers

any snow that's falling out there
is going to be a problem for us.

That's 200 miles
of pretty much nothing.

KEVIN: If it snows a foot you're sort of...
I don't think...

There are very few people who
are going to push their bikes

from Ophir to Ruby with
a foot of snow out there.

When a very dear friend of mine

who had finished the race
eight times I think

at that time on foot,

Tim Hewitt was stuck between
Poorman and Ruby for days.

50 below zero
and knee-deep snow.

And I had to make the
decision how long to wait

to check on Tim,

knowing that if I

sent someone too soon,
I was going to lose a friend.

And if I waited too long,
I was going to lose a friend.

I asked a man
to take his machine,

make four peanut butter-jelly

'Cause there were three more racers
that had passed him out there.

And go out
and tell those racers

Bill thought they might want
a coke and a sandwich.

Well, first two racers
took the coke and the sandwich.

The next was Loreen, Tim's wife and
she had a pretty badly frozen thumb.

And he went on to check on
Tim to take his sandwich.

And it was time
to bring Tim back.

But I have to make that decision,
you know,

how long to give them
to be self-sufficient.

You know,
they were the little kids

that wore the right shoe on the left foot,
you know.

Because their parents figured it was a
fight they didn't want to take there.

Those are the little kids that grow
up to be the people that come out here

to do it their self.

And in Alaska
we're given that opportunity.


- MAN 1: Yeah!
- MAN 2: You made it.

- I did.
- Let's go inside.

It was much harder
than anticipated.

- It was a much harder day than anticipated.

- It's 11.
- Good job!

- Good to see you, buddy.
- Good to be here.

kinda rough out there this year.

Yeah, it was real.

Good to know.
Have a seat.

I have to fix my bike.

Still in fifth gear since 20
miles on the other side around.

- Well...
- Hi, Tim.

I'm an impostor
as a cyclist.


I think you graduated to cyclist,

Oh, my, I'm glad I'm here.

- We're glad you're here.

I think it was 29 below
when I left.

So, everybody's quitting?
Is that what door it is?


MAN: 30 scratches so far.

- Wow, 30 scratches?
- Yeah.


And so where Kevin currently is is Passover.

That's the are that traditionally
doesn't get any traffic outside

some snow machine races
and a dog sled race.

Certainly, before I leave,
I'll check the tracker,

make sure Kevin
isn't stuck.

[LAUGHS] That would be...
put a damper on this whole thing.

It seems like the field
has shrunk a lot

and the next people
are several days behind me.

I'm trying to
take the ice off,

but it's hard
to change the tube.

it's been hard but also worthwhile.

It's nice.

I'm grateful that I found Martjin,
he's a great guy to ride with for a bit.

We'll see how we do, and we've enjoyed
the last two days riding together.

And yeah, I think, psychologically,
it definitely helps to share

a part of the trail with someone,
you know, and look out for each other.

Kind of just two heads are better than one.

That section has historically been tough.

No tougher even than 2015

for what the back
of the pack went through.


But the other bikers
flew through there.

Because it can
change in a flash.

You can be flying like
the leaders did in 2015,

and then next day
it's a five-day walk.

All it takes
is one little wind storm.




KEVIN: It's been one of the most
interesting four days of my life.

Intensely personal.
It's very bizarre.

I felt like I was in minor
trouble the entire time.

Now, here you guys are.

This is magic.
This is like insane.

Trail Angels.
You guys are all trail angels.

This is crazy.

How long were you by yourself?

Three days.

I totally felt like I walked
across a chunk of the Earth.

Which is a weird feeling.

And I feel good.
My hands are numb but nothing else hurts.

I didn't have any problems.

I took care of stuff
before it was a problem,

and in all honesty,
the slower and slower you go,

the easier it is to be happy with anything.

you think you're going slow at
two miles an hour one and a half

and then you're doing
a thousand feet an hour

and you just can't believe
it can get lower than that.

God, anything over...
moving over a thousand feet in an hour

is just unreal!
It feels so good.

If I didn't have to lift
my bike up and carry it,

anything felt,
everything that's not the worst feels good.

I don't know, I thought a lot.
Freedom is the choice

to struggle
with what you want.

A lot of us have to struggle
and we don't get to choose

what struggle we take on.

And I'm lucky enough that
this is just a choice of mine.

I've been kind of overcome with that,

that feeling of like,
"this is just a choice"

is really freeing and odd.

End of ramble, like I said

it was a really profound
few days.

WOMAN: Glad you were able to crash...
crash parties this one time.

- Oh, I just get one pass?
- Yes.

Okay. I think this is it.

This is a good one.
I'll take it.

I'll take this as my pass.

Kinda like your soup, the vegetables...
also, I wonder if I should

- cover these?
- I will eat them right now.


I was...

not excited
the last couple of days.

But I was excited
about getting here.

I wasn't sure what I was gonna do,

I'm gonna keep on going.

JAY: I passed him, Hewitt,
just outside of Ophir.

I think he's a probably a very fast walker
but he's not very good at riding his bike.

It's much slower, and it's a lot more lonely.
I was really hoping...

I was very excited
because Nome feels about...

20 plus people signed up.

So, I was like Yay!
I'll get a ride with someone.

Instead, not at all!

Well, I like the solitude,

but I would prefer to actually have
people around me at some level.

This has been a little bit longer
than I like to have no one around.

It's okay, it's still fun.



TIM: It's been rough.
It's been really rough.

There's been no trail, so

it's exactly what happened
to me in


Yeah, it's a lot different riding a
bike than walking. A lot different.


I'd rather be on foot.
I mean, I wanted to ride the bike,

you know, I mean...

I imagine soon. I would have thought maybe
by now there'd be a track outta here,

and it would be all right.

But I was wrong, I guess.

I guess,
I get too sleepy and then I'll over sleep.

It's been cold out, I think.

I mean, really cold, hasn't it?

Do you know what the temps are
at night?

MAN: I would have guessed,
I was camping out here last night.

I would have guessed -35.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking,
somewhere in the 30-40 range.

It's been like that
every night for a while.

I've wasted hours trying to ride
this stupid bike.

You know, just hours and hours.

My crank hurts so many times
that I've...

I haven't made it 10 meters
yet on this bike.

This bike and my fussing.

Who's left in the race?
Anybody behind me?

MAN: Yeah.
RJ and Martjin are maybe a day back.

Oh, I'm happy to have company.

Buddy a day today.

- Could you walk with me?
I could use some company.

- Sure.

A lot of tracks out here,
animal tracks.

Between the two safety cabins, the wolves.
Had one that was messing with me.

I mean, it was along the side really,
really howling, loudly.

And I was thinking

well, I've got a snow shoe, I'm gonna wack
'em in the head if I have to. But,

there were thousands
of wolf tracks...

RJ: Oh, that sucked.

I mean, it was beautiful,
and it was sunny out, so

to be honest, I was in a pretty
good headspace for most of it.

But, boy, that's long when you're
walking with your bike. [COUGHING]

I didn't see a soul,
not one person the whole way,

basically from McGrath.

The last five days...

maybe four days, I don't know.

Yesterday I took off my hat because it was

pretty warm,
and then I felt this sort of

wet stuff pouring down my neck.

So, I realized it's a little
piece of my ear came off.

that was just a little bit of a shock there.

I'm not feeling so great.

KEVIN: Sure, we're halfway mileage,
but in some ways I'm hoping

we're more than halfway
through the time.

It's never been more relative
in my life

of halfway means nothing.

Maybe the coast is awful,
and maybe in days.

Now, maybe I'm only a third of the way,
so who knows?

I just know that the next
bit of trail is on the river,

and that's where I gotta go.

I don't have to go back,
just keep going forward.

Can't sit around.
You don't make it anywhere that way.

TIM: What's going on?
I got both mechanicals.

I got my first two gears fixed

but the teacher
helped me with me.

A guy in Ruby gave me
a tube of

some kind of cream, which

is helping.[LAUGHING]

And a new arse would be nice.

I kinda suspected Ruby might see
a couple of reconsiderations.

WOMAN: So, the doctor also doesn't
recommend continuing the race.

If it's just clear fluid behind the blisters,
then you leave it intact

'cause once you break the skin,
an infection could get in.

it's just better to leave it intact.

I really tried to look after myself,

but it's just these tiny mistakes
that have huge consequences.

She said it was frostbite.

I sort of knew that.[CHUCKLES]

There's no doctor I think in the world who's
going to advise me to continue to race.

RJ: Doing this event is about
experiencing this trail, and

things going on,
and so if the Iditarod is in full fledge,

then you're getting
the full meal deal.

All that's very rejuvenating.

You need those boosts of people
'cause you spend a lot of time alone.


I got into Ruby

and it was the first time I could
actually see trackers and then like, "Oh!

"Tim's here too."

and then at night, "Oh, Tim's leaving."
I'm like...


I mean, not crazy, but it's just sort of,
like, after that section,

you know,
stop for a bit, refuel.

I don't wanna get distracted by
what anybody else is doing, like...

again, you're racing yourself
and you're racing the trail.

I'd love to see Martjin get
back on the trail and finish.

It'll be devastating
if he had to stop there.

I'm not sure if Tim's thinking
"I'm gonna win."

I think Tim's just thinking, "Gotta go.
Gotta go. Gotta go."

But, that's kinda his...

I think that he's really used to as well.

It's just go.
He just doesn't stop.


TIM: I love night.
By far my favorite time is night.

I look forward
to going out now.

To go and have a nice time
out there,

and I wanna enjoy it.

It's hard for me to judge where
I'm gonna get to on a bike,

'cause everything I'm used to
is in flick time,

and I'm really not very good
at converting.

RJ: So, after that long,
horrible section we did way back,

into Ruby,

I think that would have been the worst
nights... one of my worst nights' last night.

You get this wave of
weird loneliness,

and you just go through such huge
emotional swing, and you're like

going all over the place and
feeling all down, and

just had a bit of
an emotional moment.

I think when you kinda,
maybe miss people or something.

So, I don't know,
it was just a wave, a flash.

It was funny,
'cause I'm going along and all of a sudden,

I'm feeling like that and I'm like,
oh my God,

I'm not gonna make it to Nulato, that's
impossible. I should have been there, and

I see this figure on the side of the tail,

I'm like, "The hell's that?"
Then I'm like, "Oh, yeah, it's Tim Hewitt.

So, I found Tim

and he was just starting
to setup his bivvy for the night

'cause he was totally in the same mode,

maybe not as emotional
as I was for whatever reason.

And I'm like, "Get up, let's go.

"force each other." All things considered,
it was only another couple of hours

and it meant being somewhere dry
and warm.

I got him here quickly yesterday,

we napped, we ate, and

Had another good sleep, so I feel now I'm...

got decent amount of rest...

to take on this long 92
mile section to Unalakleet.


BILL: I can tell. [LAUGHTER]

I've seen two
non-morning people this morning.

I have an eye for
those people.

I was at the dinner table, and

Ruby and Martjin was there and

I couldn't help but

offer an opinion and

with the qualification that
huge amount of my

frost damage education
is come from

seeing it other people
and having it myself.

And that I thought he had done
superficial damage

to his fingers.

And that the only thing
that would make 'em worse,

would be to re-freeze 'em.

And that if he didn't have any
doubt that he can keep 'em warm,

there wasn't any reason
he shouldn't just go on.

I don't wanna spend
too much time.

- BILL: Yeah?
- Yeah. Yeah.

I'll see you later I guess.

- Yeah, take care of them fingers.
- Yeah, I will.

- I'll see you in Nome.
- Okay.

BILL: Most folks should have took
their blistered fingers and went home,

but I just gave him
the options.

Let him make his own choice,
which shoe to put on which foot.

JAY: Haven't decided to pull the plug.
He wasn't having any issues.

He wasn't throwing up, but he just wasn't
able to eat or keep food in his system.

It's sad to see him scratch,

but that was probably
the best decision for Kevin.

He didn't anything wrong.
It's just bad luck.

TIM: I feel better today.

I feel a lot better today.

Finally starting to come around
to this biking thing, I think.

It was probably the most fun
I've had

but I got scared after...

after crashing
a couple of times.

When was the first time you did this?


I reflect on all of 'em.

I mean,
they run together a little bit, but

I do, yeah.

I think of the...

the anxiety that I had the first time
that I don't have anymore. I mean,

I'm comfortable out here,
you know?

And part of that, I think I miss the unknown.
So, it's just the

question what
the trail is gonna bring,

and the weather's gonna bring
more than anything else.

But before,
I had no idea where I was going.

We weren't allowed to use GPSs
that first year,

and I never talked to anybody

who had done the trail, so...

so, it was a total unknown.

RJ: There's a little cabin right there
You can see, with the orange roof.

I'm gonna stop in and
maybe just have a bite,

and pray to the gods.

Maybe some Nordic god will
turn this down a little bit,

this wind down.

My only issue is that
my peddle broke.

So, riding with one peddle,
tried to fix it in

Shaktoolik but they only had
BMX peddles around

on the broke bikes
in the snow.

Let the games begin.
It should be cool,

there's a lot of mushers that
are gonna be coming through, so

that also inspired me
quite a bit.

To be honest,
I don't wanna miss it.

So you're most anxious to get
out there and be with them

and under a full moon,
then coming by,

it'll be pretty cool.



RJ: There's moment like these
that it gets really hard.

It tends to get harder, I think,
too, when we're like 15 days in,

just trying to keep
boosting your

energy level to kinda
take on another day.

Like, the starting part is always the
hardest, once you're going it's fine.

Kinda rekindling that
motivation every time is...

It's cool hanging out here with the dog team,

at least want do that.

So maybe I'll just take
advantage of this shelter, and

eat something,

get like fours sleep and
just leave really early.


TROY: Just really struggling to

make this last 1.7 miles...

into Kaltag.

It's been a long night.

It's 30 below on the river.

I got an hour's sleep at Nulato.

Then a big push from Galena.



You will get there...

if you keep going.

Just don't stop.

Just don't stop.

JAY: It's fun. I'm really looking
forward to being in White Mountain,

which I assume it's about
seven miles out.

it's really windy out there.

Like, I could barely bike.


JAY: I was really trying
to ride for at least an hour.


I'm very glad to be here.

WOMAN: That's awesome.

we were looking at the weather,

I was wondering
how it was gonna be.

We're all welcomed in off the trail,

not having had a bath
for days,

and yet,
they bring you in with a big hug, and

sit you down and get you warm
and dry your clothes

in their personal homes
along the trail,

these people that live out here year round.

It's just something you would
have a hard time finding

anywhere that I know of.

And it goes back to a time

when everybody out here was a traveler
at one time of year or another.

You depended on this person's
hospitality this time,

and someone else depends
on yours another,

an I think it's what brings a lot
of people out here, year after year.

It's to part of that culture
that comes alive out here.

It's alive out here
all the time

and we're lucky enough
to experience it once a year.

- I'm Jay.
- Hi.

Heard you came by last year.

And this our grandson Gable.

- Hi.
- This is Sweetie Pie, the doggie.


Anyway I'll get you set up
with food here.

I definitely miss my kids.

I miss my wife.

So, it'll be nice to see
the kids and Nancy again.

Along the coast, there are a lot
of areas with cell phone coverage.

I've been able to call them and talk to them.

Remind my family that I exist.

That's good.

Yeah, hopefully the final day. You never
really know if it's gonna be the final day.

That's the plan, yes.
Final day.

TROY: A lot of these
experiences are very hard to get

in the white noise society
that we live in at the moment.

Even though it seems like a
little bit of a flea circus,

you still drag along a lot of technology,
and it requires

quite an expensive tool
to make it all happen.

But the same note too,
it is an escape

and it is an indulgence in quite
a few pleasures that you like.

It's over-kill.

It's probably...

probably 15 kilos more junk than

Tim Hewitt's got.

That's why he's so far
up the trail.

I don't think he's human.

I think he's a cyborg
from another planet.

Think he just runs on

sunshine and oxygen.


I probably sleep on the trail

maybe more than anybody else.

I'm just not comfortable

sleeping in people's houses or
in the lodges very much. So,

I'll sleep in a school every now and again,

I probably only average about
four hours of sleep a night

and I can get that
on the trail usually.

as soon as we left Unalakleet,

the wind smacked us.


This does the trick.

It's not just about fashion.



WOMAN: You can smile now.

This is for your family.

I'm looking forward to getting off the bike,
and changing into other clothes.

It would be awesome...

and eating real food.

I really look forward to
like real food,

and a full night's sleep.

Yeah, that would be awesome.

It's been
an interesting experience.


they're getting better, I think.

I mean,
they still don't look great.

The blisters start disappearing

my hands get cold easily.

So, that's something that always happens,
I guess.

Just need to be very careful

not to increase it.

It's supposed to warm up, but...


You see, also,
it's not about being

an extremely good bike rider
like Tim Hewitt for instance.

If I would ride with him
in the forest in summer,

I'm pretty sure I'd beat him,
but mentally,

he's extremely strong,
and he knows

really well how to deal
with this cold weather.

That's why he's doing so well.

So, it's a lot more to it
than just riding a bike.

WOMAN: Hopefully this much,
the man has never slept

- more than three hours on the course.

RJ: Yeah, considering how many
times he's come through too.

As tired as he has been,

he has never slept
more than three hours.


You must be wired
the same way as Tim.

- John.

No, I mean, some of it is kinda playful,
'cause it's like...

'cause it's generally funny.

Just his approach.
Like, we all know he's just nonstop, nonstop.

Which I totally admire.

Kudos to Jay for taking off
and getting it done.

I didn't get a change.
That was smart.

I think I feel really...

Like, completely content and at peace which
is a great feeling going in to the end here.

Except for that little
nagging thing which is Tim,

who's chasing behind.

I decided to stay here and I'm cool
with that. I'll live with that decision.

You mind giving me
a knock on the door?

I've set two alarms, but...

- Okay, so by 11?
- Yeah.

He's going like 3 miles and hours,

he maybe a little longer.

Plus maybe it'll give Tim a little
taste of his own medicine. [CHUCKLES]

Maybe then he can enjoy,
chill out here, and

regal you guys with his stories
of wolves following him...

- which is totally made up.

Thank you so much.

No big deal, I just...

One last stretch, so

I might just go for it,

and get 'er done.

TIM: So, he gotta...

MAN: He left maybe an hour ago.

- I should chase him down.

I'm able to do that right now,
I'm feeling a lot better.

Starting to learn how to ride
this stupid thing.

MAN: Are you planning to make
this your last trip to Nome?

- I do every year.
- Oh.

No, I think it probably will be.

WOMAN: You said that the last
three times you've come through.

- Um-hmm? Well...
- Yes.

- I wanted to do the bike thing.
- Yeah.

And that didn't work.
And then last year,

the trail looked so good
I thought I could go fast

on foot, so that's what I did.


You cannot explain why people do this

to anyone that's not done it.

When you go home, you won't be
able to explain it to your friends

what you have experienced
here on the Iditarod trail.

And that's why those
comraderies and are so important

because those are the only people
you can really share it with.

TROY: I wanted to catch up with another
racer and ride with him if possible.

The happiness isn't real unless
it's shared kinda thing. So,

when you can share experiences
with other people, then

I think it deepens the
experience for both parties.

BILL: Life's about stories...

but what good is a story if you can't
speak the other person's language.

RJ: Yeah, it's actually emotional coming
down the street. I think it's gonna...

Probably 'cause I'm tired.
Haven't slept in a long time, but

you keep playing those mind games,
like, "Oh, you just gotta get there.

"And you just gotta get there. And you
just gotta get there." And all of a sudden,

"Holy crap,
I'm finally riding down Front Street."


I'm super proud.
It means a lot to me

to get here again. So,

I'm very, very happy.

- I want breakfast.
- MAN: How do you feel?

My butt is so sore. So sore.

They don't tell you about that.
[CHUCKLES] Let's go in.

Well, no sense chasing RJ
anymore 'cause he's done, huh?

WOMAN: It sure is.



TIM: I guess I'm just reflecting
on the journeys over the years,

getting here.

Thinking about the year
I did it with Lorraine.

It was really nice
to come into Nome together.

Yes, I think anybody can do it.

Anybody that
really puts their mind to it.

I mean, how hard is it?
You're just peddling a bike, or walking.

You'll get there one day.
Yep, it'll come to you.


I'm okay, yeah!

You still got all your pieces and parts?


Yeah, I got everything.

Everything I need.

- Good job, man.
- Thanks.

Oh, my.

MAN: Don't you love the bike?

I hate the bike. [LAUGHING]

Comes out here and finishes well

to Nome on a bike
for his 10th finish.

A feat that is just
beyond belief.

More people summit Everest
in an afternoon,

than have made it Nome
on a bike.

TIM: Ten times to Nome...



I've done everything I can do
on this venture, I think.

there's really nothing left.

For the past several years,
I've had an objective or a goal

and I really don't have
any more.

The bike was the last one.

BOY: Your tires are very hard.

You did this for Wasilla?

- Shoot!

Kyle! Kyle!
He biked here from Wasilla!

- Aren't you cold?

How are the pedals treating ya?

I'm gonna swap my plan

and left a lot earlier
than expected.

MAN: Cool. Did you have much
winds coming across the last area?

No, it was really good.

I stopped in safety
for like a bit,

just 'cause my face
was plastered with ice.

So, I thawed off a little, and

waited for the sun to come up.

I was like, I wouldn't mind
riding in with a little light...

- to enjoy it. So...
- I'm the Mayor.

- Welcome. Good to have you here.
- Hello. Hello.

- I'm Martjin.
- Nice to see you, Martjin.

Good job. Excellent.
Welcome to Nome. Welcome to Nome.

How are your fingers?

- Yeah, okay. They're healing.
- You okay?

They look better actually, which is weird.
- Oh, yeah.

They were like hard and big before,

Okay, well, that's good.

You're here. That's all that matters,
it doesn't matter how

- we all got here. We got here.
- Yeah.

Now, it's easy to say that

it wasn't so hard or anything,
but in fact it was really hard.

It wasn't easy at all.


Good job, Petr.

Well, I'll tell you what,
it was fun to be out there with you.


Well, you pushed me.
But, you know, you need to.

- See, that's what makes it real
when we have an Alaskan man.

- Yeah.

This was normal.

In March sometimes too, there is a race...
otherwise you're just touring.

And not just to race
on that section,

- [giggles] it's out there.
- Yeah.

- Yeah.
- And we gotta get across that.

All of a sudden,
you was hauling ass.


Yeah, Mike, thanks again.

It was just absolutely awesome.

This is a great year.

The long journey...
I read a book,

few years ago,
maybe six years ago about this race,

and I would never...
think that I

I'll be part of it one day.
So, it's kind of amazing.

It's a dream that came true.

We're all living proof
that anybody can do it.

You got a little bit of experience.

Experience is a name we give our mistakes.