Looking Up in Takotna

Things always look a lot better with bit of rest and a good meal! This morning Pete is in fine spirits and the dogs ate well last night. The whole team has been in puberty mode and thinking about other things than working and eating. Last night, however, the Team ate well and this morning look much better.

Pete also looks to be in really good spirits. Thanks to 10 years of experience and many trials and tribulations in races past, he is taking it in stride and looking forward to the trail ahead.

The weather in Takotna is beautiful with clear skies and and light winds. It’s a little chilly, but a straw bed and the brilliant sunshine make a cozy nest for our friends in the Team. That is pleasant news in other ways as the trail will stay hard and not get soft from the warmth. Tonight’s temperatures are forecasted to fall below zero which makes for excellent trail conditions. Add to the fact that once Pete leaves he will be running under the light of a full moon which should make for a beautiful trail up towards the Yukon River.

Unfortunately a shift in the weather is about to take place and will rear it’s head as the race heads towards the Bering Sea this weekend. Warm temperatures, south wind, and snow is predicted for the weekend in Unalakleet. A monster storm is approaching the Northwest Coast and it will impact the latter part of the race. I’ll keep you posted, but this isn’t going to be a weather free race. It’s bound to get exciting!

Pete arrived into Takotna at 1:23am this morning. He has a 24 hour mandatory layover and then he will have 96 minutes added to his rest to compensate for his starting position. There are 57 Teams that started the Race. The last Team has no differential. You take the amount of Teams minus the bib number times 2 minutes to calculate the differential. Pete is bib 9. 57-9=48X2=96 minutes. He will be able to leave Takotna at 2:59am early tomorrow morning. A bit extra time to get more food and relaxation!

Here’s Pete in Takotna this morning- Bruce Lee always gets a good interview-

 

Two Sides of a Coin

Dogsled Racing is a fickle sport. One minute you are on top of the world, the next you are trying to salvage something to put the next section of the race together. It’s sometimes like a pendulum, things going good….then things going not so good.

The first 150 miles for Team Kaiser was just perfection in motion. Even with the challenges of the trail, arriving into Rainy Pass things were clicking along nicely.

150 or so more miles more down the trail and Pete is more than likely thinking that it’s a good thing Takotna and the 24 is next so he can recompose and put this thing back together. Dogs in heat in a race are always tough and Pete’s trail times show a Team not performing where we have seen them before. 24 hours of rest and focus with good warm beds will be just what they need. Get them settled down and focused and they will be ready to rock and roll on the trail again. Even with the trouble, though, his time from Mcgrath to Takotna within 10 minutes of the leader and 20 minutes of the fastest Team so far. Not so bad at all!

So many times in this race throughout the years Teams have faltered and not been able to continue. Team Kaiser is lucky in a lot of ways. Just tonight fellow musher Nicolas Petit decided enough was enough and pulled his Team from the race- too many little things stacked up and he decided it was best for his Team. So many races where just a freak thing and you’re out. The list of names is long and distinguished– King, Berkowitz, Jonrowe, and more. Freak storms, freak injuries, and just bad luck.

Pete and the Team can count their blessings as they have the opportunity to regroup and wait for another Team to have similar challenges because they will. With over 600 miles to go, it’s going to happen.

Arriving in 7th place into Takotna, Pete and the Team are only two hours off the leaders, but the 24 will have a differential for Start times built in and with the lowest bib number of all the leaders, Pete will have a longer break before he can return to the trail. The next group of Teams is about an hour back from Pete, but when the differential is calculated it will darn near be a mass start with a very large closely packed group leaving Takotna tomorrow evening.

For us, it’s break time! Anyone watching the tracker can finally rest their eyes for a bit before the real gluing happens! Haha!

I always envy Mushers for the Takotna stop. Last year I was lucky enough to meet one of the historic people from the Iditarod. Dick Newton and his friend were eating lunch in Nome when I ran into them. Dick is the husband of Iditarod friend Jan, who passed away in 2012. She was famous for the pies I always write about. (For more about the race and Takotna and Dick and Jan Read this)

We chatted in the little restaurant in Nome about gold mining and the trail. He is well into his 80’s but had snowmachined in from Takotna. It was his last run he said, but I was amazed. It was a great lunch with the two legends. As we got up to pay, I told them I was buying them lunch. Of course they refused, but I insisted. “HAHAHA!” They laughed loudly. Dick is about deaf you see… “I TOLD YA! IF WE HUNG AROUND LONG ENOUGH SOMEONE WOULD BUY US LUNCH! HAHAHAHA!” It was a great moment and when I ran into them several times later that week it was like old home week and we laughed and laughed about it.

THAT is the Iditarod, folks. It’s the race, the challenges, the stories, and the people you meet along the trail.

Pete’s got a bit of work to do tonight to care for the dogs, snack and water them, and then find an open bed to crash out. It’s been a long couple days- Sleep well my friend!

Here’s a video from Pete’s first Iditarod at age 21 that puts it all into perspective. Some things have changed- A beard, a bit lower voice… But the wisdom of a young musher still speaks to us from years ago–

Go Team Kaiser!!!

 

Moon, Mating, and Mayhem

Pete was out of Nikolai at 4:15 with 12 dogs in the Team. Pete reported to the Insider crew that he’s got dogs in heat that has been a bit challenging. Picture your teenager at about 15 when they just figure out what the opposite sex is about. Pretty much in La La Land – Can’t think straight – Just one thing on their mind and they don’t even know what it is. Well put 12 of those teenagers together and that’s what Pete has on his hands at this point. Add in the full moon and he has a Team that can’t focus and isn’t in prime form.

After all that though, Team Kaiser is still positioned very well towards the top.

At the front of the pack, the Insider crew also reported that Jessie Royer and Richie Diehl are having a great race and that their Teams looked very, very good.

Mushers are looking forward to a waiting 24 hour layover at the end of this day. It will be a welcome reset for Pete and the Team. Get reorganized and hopefully let the romantic juices subside just a bit, get some rest in the sun and get ready for round 2.

Comparing a boxing match to the Iditarod, the 24 hour marks the end of the first round. Back to the corner and get ready for the next one. In this case, Round 2 will be the run up onto the Yukon River and into Kaltag for another break, shorter, but still significant.

Tonight Pete and the Team have another 35 miles to go until they can put their mind to rest.

It should be a pretty enjoyable time and should put them into Takotna before it gets too cold. Forecast for their visit is clear and cold during the evening and warm tomorrow. Timing is just perfect as they will arrive late, go to bed and have a full day off and then return to the trail in the evening while the trail is cold and fast.

In terms of the outlook, this may be the last of the cold weather for the race. The outlook for the Yukon and the Bering Sea coast is for temperatures reaching into the mid 20’s and 30. There is a huge storm on the North Arctic coast, but it shouldn’t affect the race unless it moves southward which would mean strong winds as Teams reach the Nome area.

Go Team Kaiser!

Kaiser Gear now Available Online!

Kaiser Gear Online!

We appreciate all of the support from Kaiser Racing Fans!

One of the requests we get is for Kaiser Gear. In the old days we used to order a bunch of t-shirts and other gear and then send it out via the post office and such. It was pretty labor intensive.

We are using an online demand printing service called Teespring that has partnered with YouTube for their products. It looks real nice and they have a satisfaction guarantee.

So if you need some gear- Head on over to our online store and get some!

Go Team Kaiser!

Into Nikolai with an Idog-a-Rider

Pete and the Team checked into Nikolai at 11:58am this morning carrying Bjork who was enjoying the ride. Unfortunately Bjork’s leisure had to be borne by the remaining 12 dogs in the Team. This slowed Team Kaiser a bit as they made their way to the Kuskokwim.

Pete arrived in 8th position after a group of Teams that has been pushing our friend Richie Diehl since Rohn. Richie arrived at 10:33am with a real fine looking Team as well.

I expect a good long break here as traditionally Teams stop in McGrath only to sign in and make their way to the Takotna checkpoint and most likely a 24 hour layover.

Weather today will be much warmer as the heat from the sun takes effect during the day. In interior Alaska, temperatures can fluctuate wildly from -25 at night in the dark to 25 degrees above during the day. With the great spring sunshine and clear skies, Teams will be basking in the sun as they rest today.

All the Teams that arrived before Pete looked real nice, so the gauntlet is thrown and any one of them could make a play for the lead. We are many days and miles from the finish, but you can look around and see who the competition will be later on.

If trail conditions and weather holds up, trail times could pick up dramatically as we move toward the Yukon and later to the coast.

What a great day for the Iditarod!

Go Team Kaiser!!

Go Richie GO! Moonlight over the Iditarod Trail

Good Morning Race Fans!

My predictions last night were a little bold to be sure and Teams are splitting the run over the Farewell Burn into two runs. It’s a cold one out on the trail and as the sun just breaks, the temperatures will fall to close to -30 degrees below zero or lower. McGrath is reporting -33F. It’s what we would call “Dead Calm” in Nikolai though, so thankfully the winds have subsided. It was a beautiful night with a full moon last night and the sunrise should be breathtaking. Just the sound of the Team, the runners, and the beauty of the trail going by. Mushers are a bit tired at this point, so they may not notice it so much. The droning of the trail over this long section after a long night is probably a bit brutal them mentally, but that is the deal- Sleep deprivation is part of the fun!! Haha! – Says me sitting on my easy chair 🙂

Pete’s best buddy Richie Diehl is having a great race! Each year there is a jackrabbit to follow into Nikolai and this year it is Real Diehl Racing. At this hour (8:30am) Richie has about a 1 hour 20 minute lead over Pete and the Team. Over the night Richie increased his lead about 30 minutes after a bit shorter break.

This video shows the action of the evening. Richie leading onto the Farewell burn and taking a break followed by Aaron Burmeister and Pete and Lance Mackey. Current video shows a bunch of Teams all together, but they all have varying rest “in the tank” so it will be interesting to see if they break or make all the way for Nikolai. It is very early still in the race, so Team maintenance is key to a successful run on the coast. Pete will be as conservative as he can be while keeping the front Teams in sight. Jeff King’s philosophy is “the fastest slow you can go” is the strategy to win. Basically to conserve Team energy and also their mental state. A tired Team isn’t a happy Team and that is the prime focus of any race– Happy Healthy Dogs.

Currently we are several hours behind last year’s pace. As it stands I’m seeing Richie into Nikolai close to 11am this morning. Last year, Joar Leifseth-Ulsom was first into the Kuskokwim River checkpoint at 6:36am. It will be interesting to compare last year’s trail time to this year. Much of the loss of time came in the first part of the race, but the Upper Kuskokwim river and Rural Alaska as a whole got way more snow than we have seen in many years. Who knows what changes this will make to the trail.

We also haven’t heard any moose stories yet, but freight traffic has been curtailed on the trail because there are so many moose around. In deep snow conditions, moose like to walk on the trail because it’s easier and running into a moose with a Team is the last thing a Musher wants to do. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about that effect soon.

Mushing weather for today-

Today
Sunny. Highs around 3 above. Light winds.
Tonight
Mostly clear. Lows 16 to 29 below. Light winds.

It’s another great race, so stay tuned!
Go Team Kaiser!!

Here’s some “Aliy Cam” footage on the trail to Nikolai

 

Midnight Run

A late evening update as movements on the trail are showing several differing strategies…

Rohn marks the end of the mountainous section of the Iditarod Trail and 148 miles down the trail lies the waiting traditional rest in Takotna. The chess match begins as Teams try to maximize run rest to get to a waiting 24 hour layover.

A few Teams stopped briefly and left Rohn, more than likely to stop at “Little Egypt”, a popular rest location near a mountain that looks like a pyramid. Other Teams are looking at how many run/rest cycles, considering weather and trail condition, it might take to run into Takotna.

Weather is cold and windy, which is brutal for man, but not as bad for the dogs as they are running and warm. Footcare will be important, but Teams will have their dogs coated for the 75 miles into Nikolai, 48 miles into McGrath, and then the final 18 into Takotna.

I’m thinking a longer break at Rohn means a Team will make the run all the way to Nikolai, rest, and then head out for Takotna. Teams that run into “Little Egypt” will lengthen their run tonight, while shortening the runs into Takotna. It’s a traditional question each year as to what Teams will do. 75 miles is a long run, but in the Kuskokwim 300 in Bethel, Teams traditionally run 100 miles before resting in Kalskag in that race. 75 miles to Nikolai – Take a break – 66 miles to Takotna – Take a layover.

As we are glued to the tracker, watch and see what happens! It’s going to be a long night ahead for the Teams, but another great race on the Iditarod Trail!

Pete is loving this, I’m sure. This is what he trains all year and thinks all year about!

Go Team Kaiser!!