The toughest part of the Race… Half way to Nome and just outside of the Top 10.
The weather has been great, but a Team a bit out of sorts is a bigger challenge in this Race. It happens to everyone at some point. Aliy Zirkle had it in her Team and she expressed the same feeling. “Not much you can do. You want them to do well, but if they aren’t 100%, you just do what you can do.”
I always call Pete “Doggy Yoda” as he is so “Dog Smart” about mushing and dogs and stuff. After the 300 Win in January he called and said they would be going to do the Willow 300. It was a new race and I was asking about it and he told me that more than anything he wanted to have the Team exposed to the other Teams. Much like a child in Kindegarten, when the Team is exposed to others they some times get the sniffles and such, just like kids do. “I want them to build some immunity,” he told me.
A pretty smart move, but unfortunately it was so cold that it just didn’t happen like he planned and the Team got a bit of the trail flu into Galena.
The good news is that now the Team is looking up and that helps everything. The dogs feel better and that puts the smile back in Pete’s face.
The trail in from Huslia was 86 miles of soft trail. Pete and Richie traveled together and split the run into two runs over the day yesterday. In Koyukuk he took his 8 hour layover and reported to the insider that it was some of the toughest trail so far. Very soft and in the heat of the day–quite an ordeal. The dogs are eating well which is the biggest indicator of health. They are hungry and perky and so this challenge is hopefully behind them.
Listen to Pete’s Insider Interview in Koyukuk
Now back on the Yukon, Pete and the Team will make their way down a fairly nice trail to Kaltag before heading over the portage to Unalakleet that is the part of every Race. With the amount of snow we have had this year, it could be pretty soft as well, but it is more heavily traveled and has more of a coastal influence, so should be easier to deal with than the Huslia loop. Down in Bethel the Sun has started to impact the lakes and trails substantially. I was out yesterday in my plane and the snow on most lakes was showing the effects of the sun by melting away the snow. This happens each year as we move into the spring season. Kaltag is 200 miles North or so, but I would assume the same conditions are occurring.
We are ecstatic for Richie Diehl! He is running his best Iditarod ever and is almost an hour in front of Pete and the Team at this hour. He made it over the soft trail after the middle break quite a bit faster than Pete and Richie’s Team looks awesome! This is Richie’s 5th run of the Iditarod and there is no one we would rather see do better that them. Go Richie! He has to feel pretty good about his race so far!
Weather today is still pretty fair, but calling for falling temperatures. It won’t matter though, for as Teams move towards the Bering Sea coast, temperatures will be warmer due to the maritime influence. Wind may become a factor, but for now it’s nothing really to speak of– 10 to 15mph from the Northeast on the coast, calm on the Yukon.
It’s the final Sunday of the Iditarod and veteran fans have many, many memories of this day. The drama usually begins around this point and this year proves to be no different. We are now a bit more than 350 miles from Nome!
Go Team Kaiser!!