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!
Congrats Guys! Have a good break!!
Richie Diehl and his Number One Fan- Emerie
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.
Go Men! Great Job So Far– Keep it up!
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-
Mike Willams Jr. – Mike Williams Sr. – Pete Kaiser- Richie Diehl
The 2013 Iditarod puts 4 teams on the Trail from the YK Delta. Mike Williams Sr. and Richie Diehl join Pete and Mike Jr. on the Trail this year. Let’s call them “Delta Force” for 2013!
Delta Force is doing great and all moving along nicely. I’ll have interviews from all three of the Men later, but let’s check in this morning- 8:00am Monday.
Pete Kaiser – Resting in Finger Lake
Mike Williams Sr. – Just passing through Finger Lake
Mike Williams Jr. – Traveling with “Dad” through Finger Lake
Richie Diehl – 2o miles out of Finger Lake