Nik and the Team arrived into the Sheep Creek Finish Line this afternoon with 13 barking dogs ready for another 300 miles. Courtesy of Ron Kaiser, the Norwegian anthem played in the background as Nik signed out of the trail in 9th place. Only the top 5 places pay prize money, but Nik was very happy with the performance of the Team and himself. A noticeably calmer musher was on the runners this year compared to last year. He related that he knew more to expect out of the Team as well as himself.
The Team was met by a gaggle of Team Kaiser fans including Paul Thurman, Donna Shantz, Andy Angstman, and Colin McDonald. The temperature was a cold 0 degrees, but warmed up from -30 earlier in the day.
Nik is no worse for wear from the trip and his first stop after putting the Team to bed was a burger and a beer. Surely rest will be on tap as well, but with the crew here for the finish, he may have to forgo rest for a bit
Good Job and Congratulations to our fine friend from Norway! Heia! Heia! Kaiser! (Go Team Kaiser in Norwegian!!)
Nik was 10th into the Amber Lake checkpoint and out in that position as well. The Team looked outstanding and as Nik hooked each member to the gangline, barking and tails wagging they made out into the early morning.
Pete’s not used to the life of the “Pit Crew!” Up at 4am for a 45 minute drive to meet Nik and clean up after his Team. In this race pit crews are responsible for cleaning up after the Teams in the checkpoints. Raking up the straw and making sure the place is clean and Tidy.
Nik was upbeat as usual and described the trail as “Perfect.”
Just before I started this post, Nicholas Petit crossed the finish line with a great looking team. “This Team has won 1000 miles of racing in the last bit.” It is truly a great looking Team. Congratulations Nicholas!
Here’s a short interview with our Nik in Amber Lake. Go Team Kaiser.
Hop on the jet, drive 115 miles up to Trapper Creek and make it there just in time to get a few words from Nik after his 4 hour layover in that checkpoint. After a few hours of sleep, Nik was upbeat as usual and ready to take to the trail for the next section of the race. Trapper Creek is 144 miles from the Starting Line and the halfway point of the race.
It has been cold in the evenings, but that doesn’t ever seem to bother our Norwegian friend. His gentle way with the team and calm cool presence on the trail is improving race by race.
The Team looked really nice and Nik spoke highly of them. “They’re doing great.”
Here are a few photos as he prepared the Team for the Trail. Ron and Pete were there to clean up after him and send him on his way.
Pete, who is a spectator for the first time in his career, said it felt a little strange watching his team come in from the trail. He has been amazed at the checkpoint activity which he rarely, if ever, sees as he is usually seeing the race from the perspective of competitor.
During Race season, work is definitely a four letter word! Nik Wikstrand is out on the trail of the 2018 Willow 300 and some of us are stuck working to pay for our habit 🙂
Ron, and Pete and some intrepid fans all gathered this afternoon for the Start in Willow of the 300 mile race into wilds of that region. Pete is concentrating on some serious training, so Nik took the runners of the A Team to field Kaiser Racing Kennel’s entry into the race.
The weather was in a word– Spectacular and Ron said is was a chorus of barking as the Teams left out onto the trail. Longtime fans will remember last year’s race ending on Superbowl Sunday. This year’s race has a new course and a bit of experience under the belts of the organizers. The finish will take place at Sheep Creek Lodge on the Parks highway. (Home of the best Chicken Fried Steak in Alaska, oh by the way)
Ron played the Norwegian Anthem and Nik carried the flag of his Homeland as he made his way out onto the trail. It will be a long night for the pit crew as Ron and Pete will be headed to several checkpoints to pickup dogs and wish Nik well as he makes his way through the course.
An expected finish on Saturday will have teams meeting at Sheep Creek Lodge to toast the trail and hear stories from the trail. I’m pulling at my credit card as I write this. Go Team Kaiser!!