We’ve Been Here Before!

Out of Nulato!

Pete and the Team spend a little over 4 hours in Nulato and are back on the trail to an 8 hour layover in Kaltag. Pete is staying close to Thomas Waerner who must be thinking,”What is this guy doing? I’ve already taken my 8 hour, so he’s behind, right?”

Pete knows that the trail over the portage to Unalakleet is a hard one and many Teams are going to take hours of breaks if not in Kaltag, but along the trail to Unalakleet. So it’s to Team Kaiser’s advantage to take his 8 hour break as far down the trail as possible to have a fresh Team before the last overland trail to the coast. Pete must take 8 hours, but Waerner is going to have to take time as well as will many of the other Teams. Jessie Royer, Brent Sass, and Pete are all very experienced Iditarod mushers and it’s these little details that add up over this last section of the race.

With these trail conditions expect a close to 6 hours for the run into Kaltag

Strategy Change?

Good Morning Race Fans!

Pete and the Team are into the Nulato checkpoint this morning at 7:48am this morning with 10 dogs in the Team. I was looking at trail times between Galena and Nulato and thought they looked a little slow, so I did a little digging into the archives.

It has been awhile since the Iditarod has run this route, so you have to go all the way back to 2016 to get an idea of race times. In years since, a Fairbanks restart with a Huslia trail was part of the race due to warm temperatures in Alaska.

Take a look at trail times for those years:

It looks like the trail times are pretty consistent with times past. Often you can’t really look at the fastest trail time in the archives because often the fastest checkpoint to checkpoint times are completed by Teams later in the race.

Weather conditions in the area are a warm 30F,  overcast with light snow and light winds. Teams are now challenged with changing their race strategy based on changing conditions in the villages. The Nulato checkpoint is out on the river, so Mushers don’t really have a place to get out of the weather. After they care for their Teams, it will be critical that they take care of their personal gear to stay dry and warm themselves. Hypothermia doesn’t just happen in very cold temperatures and often occurs in mild temperatures. Staying dry is going to be a key issue for much of the next part of the race.

Shaktoolik is no longer a checkpoint in the race which is an even larger issue. Supplies have been moved to Old Shaktoolik out of town, but there will be no Iditarod personnel on site. This means no drop dogs and again not a place to take a break. This totally changes strategy for Pete. As veteran Kaiser Fans will recall, in several races past, Pete has camped out before Unalakleet to make the Kaltag to Shaktoolik run in two long runs. This “slingshot” strategy has paid off for several Teams as it puts them further up the trail. It will be interesting to see how Teams deal with this new challenge.

As Aaron Burmeister remarked about it in Galena, “It’s the Iditarod and you just have to take it day by day.” In the last couple of southern route races Eagle Island has been a challenge in terms of supplies and Mushers always figured out a way to contend with the challenge. As Aaron continued, “the change affects all of the mushers equally.”

Pete still has to take his 8 hour layover and is traveling with Teams that already have completed that mandatory break. It is hard to gauge exactly what position he is traveling because he has good speed over some of the Teams who have taken the break. I’m thinking he either takes it at Nulato now, or in Kaltag. I’m sure he’s mentally going over all of the possibilities of the loss of Shaktoolik and how to get his Team to Koyuk, which is the ultimate goal in the next day or so. Sunday is our traditional day in Unalakleet and then up the coast we go.

He has a couple of alternatives– He could break now and then try to make two long runs to Unalakleet, or he could break for a shorter amount now and then head to Kaltag and take the 8 hour and head for Unalakleet and see how it goes. Shaktoolik isn’t halfway to Koyuk, so it’s in an odd place. Teams don’t often break at the shelter cabin between Shaktoolik and Koyuk, but Nic Petit and Dallas Seavey have used that strategy. I don’t have trail reports on the trail between Shak and Koyuk yet, but it can totally be a bear and has exhausted mentally many mushers over the years.

This curve ball is what makes the Iditarod so special. It’s never the same and it’s always exciting to watch!

Here’s a little about Nulato from Wikipedia- Kind of gives a little insight as to why the Elders are a little gunshy about the Covid-19 virus:

Nulato was a location for trade between the Koyukon people and Inupiat people of the Kobuk River area before the arrival of Europeans.[citation needed]

In 1838, the Russian explorer Malakov established a trading post in Nulato.[6]

After the Alaska Purchase, a United States military telegraph line was constructed along the north side of the Yukon River. The gold rush along the Yukon River that began in 1884 brought many new diseases to the area and many people died. Our Lady of Snows Roman Catholic mission and school were opened in 1887 and many people moved to Nulato to be near the school. A measles epidemic and food shortages during 1900 reduced the population of the area by one-third. 1900 was also the peak year for steamboat travel on the Yukon River, with 46 boats in operation. That summer, two boats per day stopped at Nulato to purchase firewood.

Stay Tuned!

Go Team Kaiser!!

 

HOT NEWS!!! Family Start to Iditarod 2020!

This news required it’s own posting! Kaiser Racing basically started in the kitchen of Ron and Janet Kaiser. You can only just imagine how proud it must have been to see their son win the 2019 Iditarod. In fact, the trophy still sits in that very kitchen to this day!

Well…

Get ready for it…

Pete Kaiser will leave the 202o Starting line with his Dad Ron on the second sled. We’ve seen that before…

BUT JANET KAISER is the 2020 Kaiser Racing Iditarider!!!

Wahoo!!

Just a bit of a Romantic, Ron hatched this plan months ago and for Janet’s birthday presented her with the news at a small gathering of family and friends. She was nervously ecstatic, let’s just say!

In any case! Mom and Dad and Pete will leave the Starting Line together. Almost brings a tear to the eye thinking about it!

Go Team Kaiser!!

Team Kaiser First into Tuluksak!

Pete and the Team are First into the Tuluksak checkpoint and 4 hour mandatory layover!

After arriving at 23:57, the Team will be checked over by the K300 Veterinarian Team and then sent to rest in anticipation of the race to the 2020 K300 Finish Line!

Interview after interview has told of the amazing trail, but times for races are a bit slower than last year. Last year Matt Failor had the fastest Kalskag to Tuluksak run at 4:45 almost 30 minutes faster than Pete’s 5 hour 14 minute run this evening.

The Bogus Creek 150 times were also just a bit slower than last year. Not sure what to make of it, but in any case we are looking now at a 8:30-9:00am finish unless conditions change.

Close on the heels of Team Kaiser are Matt Failor and Richie Diehl who have been alternating position according to the tracker and are about 2 miles behind.

Weather is predicted to stay the same with a few snow showers closer to morning. Temperatures have risen a bit with Bethel reporting 4 above at this hour.

It is going to be an exciting finish, so get some rest and we will see you at the Finish Line!

Go Team Kaiser!!

Bogus Barn Burner

As per usual, the Bogus Creek is heating up to be an exciting finish. Father Alexander Larson has been leading the race all night, but hot on his heels is last year’s winner Jason Pavilla and Matt Scott, both who are having great race times. Ron is in 4th position about 4 miles back from the leader.

The leaders have made their way back onto the Gweek river and are about 13 miles from the Finish at 9am this morning. I’d guess we are looking at a 10:15-11:00am finish for the top 4 Teams.

Times are pretty identical to last year, but it has slowed on the last part of the race since Tuluksak. It will be interesting to hear tails from the trail 🙂

The Top 3 Teams are surely going for it, so grab a cup of coffee and head on down to see the finish!

Go Ron Kaiser!!

Fast into Kalskag – It’s Anyone’s Race!

Good Morning Race Fans!

A beautiful trail up the river has Teams closely packed together we all slept last night.

Jeff King checked into Kalskag first at 4:02 with only a 6 minute lead over a group of 4 mushers only a minute apart. The fastest time over the 50 mile route was Joar Ulsom with 4hrs 56 minutes, but the top five times are only separated by 5 minutes in those 50 miles with Pete and Aaron Peck only one minute behind.

Check in Times

Kalskag Check In Times

Kalskag Enroute Times

Kalskag Enroute Times

Considering that checking in 10 Teams at once doesn’t allow for a real accurate picture of the trail times, I’m considering a virtual tie among the top 5 Teams. There’s just not much distance between them. As Andy Angstman reported to K300.org, Teams were like a “Train” coming into the middle river checkpoint.

Comparing the race to last year, the times are very close, but a bit slower. Last year Jessie Holmes made the run in 4:28 with the top five teams under 4:45. Still a very fast race.

This year the trail route will head overland through the Whitefish Lake loop towards Aniak. This 50 mile trail routes up through the tundra and towards the Aniak River before heading into the Aniak Checkpoint. I’d guess that Teams will be taking 4 hours of their 6 hour mandatory rest before heading out. The race differential, which accounts for the staggered start times also will be added to rest in the Kalskag checkpoint.

Weather is just great. It’s cold, but clear and not so windy. Winds haven’t been a factor so far, so cross your fingers!

Go Team Kaiser!!