Shaktoolik – Noon – 3/13/2016 – Notice the Open Water
Earlier in the race I described my comparison of the 2016 and 2014 record run. Here is the updated version. I am basing my calculation of the 2014 Finish in a hypothetical scenario, had there been no storm and an expectation of Jeff King winning that race near 1:30am. You can read that here.
Here is Update number one showing Shaktoolik. This updated chart shows 2016 about 6 hours off the pace of the 2014 race AT THIS POINT. I will update it as the race progresses further toward Nome.
I see Pete at about 6 hours off the pace of the leader at this point, but this will become more accurate in Koyuk for sure.
Go Team Kaiser! A beautiful day for a run up the coast!
9 hours 31 minutes! That is near record time for that leg. In the last 10 year that time is only bested a couple of times and the fastest? 9 hours 5 minutes. By whom or which Team might you ask? Team Kaiser and Jeff King – Each at 9h 5m.
Pete and the Team pulled out all the stops and headed west last night at 7:09pm in 11th position. They arrived into Unalakleet at 5:40am this morning in 6th position.
Tough getting up after the time change? Try getting going after a 9 hour run! Teams and Musher will be pretty oblivious to a time change because they are on the race clock. The race clock and the rest schedule during the race regulates their sleep patterns, so time? Pretty meaningless to them. Run X hours Rest Y hours.
It will be pretty interesting to see what Pete does this morning. His Team looked beautiful down the Yukon and he was able to rest and let Teams pass and then catch up on the Trail.
A shorter break will mean he is looking and going back to the 6/4 or similar schedule. A longer break may mean another long run possibly all the way to Koyuk.
A word about Unalakleet. It’s a real nice checkpoint and the breakfast there is World Famous! They will be cooking up mountains of pancakes and everything a musher might want in true Homeland Hospitality. I’m not sure if she’s there this year, but last year Ariel Twito cooked up so much bacon that she said the grease was in her pores for days! Thanks Unalakleet!!
Mushing Weather for today-
EASTERN NORTON SOUND AND NULATO HILLS-
409 AM AKDT SUN MAR 13 2016.TODAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW. HIGHS 9 TO 20 ABOVE.
NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH.
.TONIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS 4 BELOW TO 4 ABOVE. NORTHEAST
WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH.
Pete and the Team are now out of Kaltag on the 85 miles to Unalakleet over the Portage Trail. Team Kaiser was the 11th Team out of Kaltag this evening – Maybe that’s a good omen- Bib Eleven – Eleventh out of Kaltag.
This section of the trail in the past has varied wildly in condition. I just got off the phone with Steven Boney who just ran the Iron Dog a couple of weeks ago on the same trail. He reported that the trail was far better than last year and was good going. The trail is also an established transportation link between the Yukon and the Coast, so it should be pretty good going.
Iditarod Description of the Trail-
This leg follows the ancient Kaltag portage, a relatively straight valley angling southwest through the coastal mountains; the route has been used for millennia by Natives. It is normally a well-used snowmachine highway. It marks the major transition from the inland river environment to the Bering Sea coast. Conditions can be vastly different at opposite ends of the portage, and wind is a constant threat on the western half.
The distance to Unalakleet is actually about 82 miles. Plan on 10 to 15 hours for this trip, depending on whether you want to camp along the way, and for how long. There are two excellent resting spots on the trail, fifteen miles apart: the Tripod Flats cabin is 35 miles from Kaltag, and the Old Woman cabin is 15 miles farther on, about 35 miles from Unalakleet.
The trail climbs for 15 miles from Kaltag through mostly wooded country to the summit of the portage, about 800 feet above sea level. Then it descends slowly into the valley of the Unalakleet River, staying mostly in wooded or semi-wooded country with some excursions across taiga and open areas until Old Woman, then running across mostly open tundra on the south side of the river valley. The trail drops back down onto the Unalakleet River about 8 miles out of town, making a couple of short portages across river bends before crossing the frozen lagoon into Unalakleet.
Mushing Weather for this evening-
EASTERN NORTON SOUND AND NULATO HILLS-
628 PM AKST SAT MAR 12 2016.TONIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. LOCAL AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW. LOWS ZERO
TO 8 ABOVE. NORTH WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH.
.SUNDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. LOCAL AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW. HIGHS 8 TO
20 ABOVE. NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH.
As Pete and the Team leave the Yukon River and enter the village of Kaltag, they say goodbye to the Interior Alaska portion of the race and after a break will look forward to the sights and sounds of Coastal Alaska.
The weather remains beautiful and I would guarantee that Mr. Kaiser is sporting a new sun tan if not a burn from the spectacular sunny days he has seen.
The strategy to rest a bit early and skip Nulato was a smart one as now Team Kaiser is solidly inside of the top 10 looking at improving as the race unfolds shortly. Their trail speed has been excellent and seems to be maintaining due to the care Pete is taking to keep the dogs rested and happy. This is the earliest Pete has made it to Kaltag in his career and he has to be happy looking his times.
Anticipate a good long break here in Kaltag. There will be quite a bit of attention from media and onlookers because of todays earlier events, but lood for Pete to hole away and grab a nap before the Night run to Unalakleet.