Stitched together KYUK Radio Angela Denning-Barnes with our video and a bit of Insider. Delta FOURce Elder Mike Williams Sr. crosses the line. His finish was easily the most popular of all of the mushers except for the Winner with horns honking, bells jingling, and the crowd cheering. Go Mike!! Visit the Williams Family Kennel Fanpage for photos and more!
With Pete and Mike Jr. and their Teams off the trail, we still have two mushers from the group heading towards Nome.
Richie Diehl will be the first musher we see. He is out of White Mountain and should reach the Finish Line between 1:30 and 2pm today. Winds have picked up, so he is facing a challenging trail this morning. Dave and Esther, his Mom and Dad, made it to Nome yesterday with Richie’s sister Dana to cheer him across the finish line. I spoke with Dave yesterday and he was super proud of his son’s efforts.
Mike Williams Sr. is bringing up the rear of the pack. He is presently headed towards White Mountain and a 8 hour break. He is expected into Nome Friday afternoon. His wife Maggie was at the finish line yesterday to cheer their son “Qam” across the line. She is a veteran of these events, having been here 14 times prior.
Congratulations to Mike Williams Jr. on his finish. The weather is absolutely beautiful in Nome today. A crowd of Bethel supporters met at the finish line to cheer on Mike Jr. and his Team. Good Job Mike!
23rd Place – 10 days 1 hours 57 minutes 30 seconds
What a day of mushing! For online spectators, today must have seemed long with little going on, but really this was a huge day for the Teams. Although there were few checkpoints, many miles have gone by on quite a tough trail. Luckily all of our teams have not had to break trail which gives their teams a bit of a break. The trail between Eagle Island and Kaltag is soft and sticky and Martin Buser, who had led the race for quite some time may have burnt all his advantage by slogging through the miles in the lead.
Mike Williams Jr. is the story of the day. He is truly burning up the trail. With some of the fastest times on the trail he is advancing steadily and is a team to watch from here to the Finish in Nome. In his last Iditarods, he tends to speed up the closer he gets to Nome. At press time, Mike is a bit over halfway to Kaltag.
Pete and our Team Kaiser have been slowly rebuilding their health and things seem to finally be clicking along. Their trail times have been excellent, but it has been at the expense of longer breaks between runs. Presently Pete and the Team are just into the Kaltag checkpoint. Many teams in front of them have had to rest along the trail, but Team Kaiser made the run with only one short break. This shows me that the team is in good shape and the longer breaks are paying off nicely. I expect another long break here before the run to Unalakleet. Pete has been on this trail earlier this year when he won the Norton Sound 450, so the next section of trail is familiar territory and that will be a definite advantage. Aaron Burmeister is back to the lead presently and he too has been on this trail before. His team may be the one to watch.
Mike Williams Sr. is no longer running with son Mike Jr. He is presently on the trail between Grayling and Eagle Island. It is going to be a long night for Mike and I expect him to take a good break once he reaches the checkpoint. Running in a sticky trail at night can be a burden, so we’ll see how this goes for him. He is still putting in very respectable times, but like Pete is taking a bit longer in checkpoints to recharge his team.
Richie Diehl got a boost today as he got to have dinner in Grayling with his dad, Dave and friends Ronnie Vanderpool and Erich Kubal. They met in Anvik, but Richie was in race mode and running from Shageluk to Grayling, so they drove up to Grayling and got to sit down together as the Team rested. Ronnie and Erich also drove to Iditarod earlier to cheer him on. In a long rookie race, it had to be good to have family and friends around. The middle western Alaska villages are really cheering Richie on as he is the local favorite in that area. Word has it he left Grayling, but had to turn around and drop a dog and then returned to the trail. Richie’s gal Em reports he is in good spirits and dogs are doing well.
Leading the Four YK Delta Mushers is our own Pete Kaiser. Pete and the Team left Takotna this morning after his 24 hour layover at 1:15am with 14 dogs. He quickly made it over to Ophir, dropped another dog and returned to the trail at just past 4am this morning with 13 dogs. The Kaiser team made great time towards Iditarod and are presently camped out resting just 20 miles from Iditarod. We expect him to rest for a few hours and then return to the trail. I am thinking that his preference was to get as far as he could in the warmth before camping out and waiting for it to cool this evening. Go Team Kaiser
Mike Williams Jr. left Takotna after his 24 hour layover at just past 6 am this morning with 14 dogs. He was in and out of Ophir a bit before 7am and is currently on the trail to Iditarod. I would expect that Mike Jr. would also break this trip of 103 miles into two parts as well and rest during the heat of the day. We will see though as Mike Jr. is full of surprises.
Mike Williams Sr. has been traveling with his son since the Start and left Takotna just a couple of hours later than Mike Jr. He was in and out of Ophir just before noon with 15 dogs. He commented yesterday that it was an honor to be traveling together with Mike Jr. He must be so very proud of his boy and no better seat in the house than on the trail with him.
Go Team Williams!
Richie Diehl of Aniak is just out of Takotna after his 24 hour layover as well. Tracker is showing him moving, but we don’t have a count on his dogs yet. Richie has slowly been creeping up the leaderboard and with his conservative run, should keep that up as they move North. I am hearing that his Dad may meet him in Anvik to watch him go by. Maybe we will get some photos from there as well. Richie’s Facebook page has been going crazy with all of his fans! Way to go Richie!
The Delta Force has Landed! Richie just got into Takotna at 13:28 putting all for men in the same location for layover. This will be the first time since they left Willow that they are together. It would be fun to get a shot of them together in Takotna. I am looking for someone as we speak to get me some photos.
The thing about our guys is that they all have a connection and all are good friends. From a spectating standpoint, it is just COOL!
Ask anyone- Richie Diehl is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. A little shy, but once you talk to him, he immediately breaks into a nice easy going smile. The young musher from Aniak, Alaska, 100 or so miles upriver from Bethel has been competing and moving up the leaderboard every year. His dream has been to compete in the Iditarod and 2013 will be his rookie year.
Aniak is a different kind of place with different kinds of people. It is more like McGrath in many ways at is the hub for the smaller villages surrounding it and has daily scheduled air service to Anchorage. In some ways it is the best of scenarios– close to wilderness, but a plane ticket away from Anchorage. This contrasts the lives of the Williams’ who must travel by boat, snowmachine, or small plane to Bethel, and then get on the scheduled service.
Being from this small hub villages also offers Richie the advantage as well of being farther from the coast so his training area is usually pretty nice. This year especially, Pete and the Team camped out with the Diehls in Aniak so he could do some training as all of the Bethel snow was gone.
Richie’s Dad is a retired school teacher and his Mom runs the only restaurant in Aniak. Pete and Richie met at UAA as students and several years ago Richie came down and stayed with Kaiser’s while working construction. Having more work in Bethel, Richie now works construction every summer in Bethel.
I spoke with him just before he left on the trail-
If you are from the YK Delta, you can hold your head up high today! The Delta FOURce, as we have played with the name, is really doing a bang up job.
This morning’s update on the four-
Pete is running near the front and keeping his number 10 spot pretty solid. He had a good day yesterday that started camping on the trail with several other mushers, then making his way to Nikolai in the morning and down the Kuskokwim to McGrath ending up just before midnight in Takotna.
Mike Williams Sr and his son “Junior”, as Big Mike calls him, have been more or less traveling together the whole race. Mike Sr. isn’t a small guy and for that team to be running together with Mike Jr. is really something. But more, for Mike Sr. to be keeping up with his son really shows his stamina as well. Mike Jr. is having a great race and is in position in the middle of the pack as he has done in years past. Look for him to push a bit more once we get closer to the coast.
Richie Diehl is being conservative. His run cycle is not agressive, but he is still moving up the ladder. Early on in the race his run times and speeds were a bit down, but I have noticed that now they seem much more consistent and faster. I am assuming it was just jitters and he is getting into the pace of the race. It’s a totally different thing to be mushing for days at a time and you have to almost establish a routine. Make sure your dogs are eating, resting, and healthy, as well as making sure that you get some rest as well. This is a 10-11 day race for mushers at the end of the standings board, so consistency will truly pay off to get a musher to the finish line.
While all of the talk of the trail this first part of the race has been about Martin Buser, I have been watching Mike Williams Sr. and really am impressed. He is having a great race and his times are very respectable. On his 14th run in the Iditarod, Mushing for Sobriety, he is almost leaving me speechless. As I ran the 5 blocks from Pete’s parking area to the Ceremonial Start on Saturday, at 50, it almost killed me To see Mike Sr. having a real fine race and knowing that he has had health issues in the past, gives me much respect for this musher from Akiak. He is the elder statesman of the Delta Force group and always one to keep an eye on.
The Williams family has been using dogs for mushing from before there was mechanized transport, but today the large family from Akiak and Akiachak are what keeps this team on the trail.
I spoke with him briefly in Willow at the Restart. Here he is in English and his native language, Yup’ik-
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Mike Williams - 8 Dogs 11th Place Finish - 9d 11h 50m 2s
Pete Kaiser - 13 Dogs 13th Place Finish - 9d 15h 28m 30s