Excitement and Drama on the Trail into Nikolai

Nikolai Morning Photo

Nikolai Morning

I awoke this morning to an alert from Iditarod that Aliy Zirkle was being Medevaced from Rohn. “That’s not good,” I thought. Apparently Aliy in her last race before retirement was injured going into Rohn during the night and she and her dogs are being transported back to Anchorage. All of us at Kaiser Racing are wishing her well as this has to be devastating for her and her Team as well as her fans.

Then I checked the tracker and WOW! Ryan Redington was into Nikolai at an amazing 4:45am this morning. That is a very early hour for the first Team into the first checkpoint on the Kuskokwim. Then I realized that the Deshka Landing Starting Line trimmed at least 10 miles from the Start of the race which would make arrival times that much earlier. Ryan is definitely moving though and we’ll see how this all shakes out. With limited amenities and checkpoints, Teams are altering strategies and doing more breaks on the trail than usual. The race seems pretty fast and with a shorter length, Teams are most likely going to keep the pace up and this could be a fast race.

Richie Diehl was third into Nikolai at 6:40am just 25 minutes behind Aaron Burmeister, who traditionally is one of the front runners into that checkpoint.

Pete and the Team were just 32 minutes behind Richie in fourth position just in front of Gunnar Johnson, Travis Beals, and Joar Leifseth Ulsom.

Times into the checkpoint are pretty consistent with previous fast races with Teams either showing 12-13 hours with a break, or 9-10 hours without. One thing I failed to notice yesterday is that Pete had to drop two dogs so far on this first 263 miles of the race. I’ll find out who today and although it’s noteworthy, looking at past races, Pete has had to do this as well. There are many things that can cause a Team member to have to be benched for “the game.” It is rarely injury. Sometimes a female in heat or a dog that catches a bug from another Team.

While I’m on the subject of the Team, checkout our Team Page with the 2021 Kaiser Team.

Though some Teams may run through Nikolai, I am thinking Pete may stop and break here and take advantage of water and whatever amenities are available. Further on down the trail it is going to be slim pickins and no Pies in Takotna to look forward to at our traditional stop.

Weather today is looking beautiful, but warm. Temperatures were in the 30’s yesterday in McGrath, but dropped gradually into the teens. Great mushing weather right now, but by the time Pete and the Team head back to the trail, I fear it will be warm and possibly soft. A well packed trail from McGrath to Nikolai will help things, but today could be pretty warm with light snow.

Day two of the Iditarod and it’s another exciting drama developing on the Trail!

Have a good rest Pete! Go Team Kaiser!!


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