Mike and Team Williams into Unalakleet

Mike Jr. arrived into Unalakleet at 12:46pm after an 11hour 15 minute run over the Portage with 8 dogs.

Go Team Williams!

UPDATE- Who knows who is in the lead at this point- Tracker shows either one ahead at any given time!

In news at the Front, Jeff King scaled back his sled and is now battling Aliye Zirkle for the lead. The trail looks pretty hard with little snow and lots of glare ice. The wind is pretty strong and Teams are headed right into it.

Here’s one of Sebastian Schnuelle‘s photos of Martin out of Shaktoolik this morning:

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Kaiser Racing Radio at Unalakleet – Andy Angstman Reporting – Pete into Unalakleet

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Just off the phone with Andy Angstman! Pete and the Team were just into Unalakleet ahead of Wade Mars to make 16th position.

Team looks good and we found another bit of news about the trail to Koyuk.

Listen In! Thanks Andy! Video and Photos coming soon!

Mr. Kaiser Makes His Move

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What a run! Team Kaiser is bearing down on Unalakleet like a freight train this morning and looking to have one of the fastest times over the Portage.

While we’ve been sleeping and getting up late according to the early Sprung Forward clock, Pete and the Team have over taken Baker, West, and Phillips and are now duking it out with Wade Mars who left Kaltag 90 minutes before them.

I rousted Andy Angstman who also was a bit surprised by the speed and who now is headed to the checkpoint to get us some photos and hopefully video.

Team Kaiser watchers will recognized this burst of speed as Pete and the Team are notorious once they reach the coast. With 14 dogs in harness and a trail just like back home, they will surely work their way up the leaderboard.

Richie is also making good time and is about an hour behind Pete at this time. Mike Jr. is an hour past that. Mike has to play it pretty conservative as he dropped a dog last night in Kaltag, but is staying on pace with other mushers in his group.

More soon! Go Team Kaiser!!

Head for the Hills! The Portage Awaits.

The Trail Ahead– Looks Like Bethel!

At the front of the Pack, Aliy Zirkle is again in command and it looks like Martin Buser is faltering. Jeff King is now within 6 miles of Zirkle and has over 200 miles to make it up. Musher Nicolas Petit, who had been doing very well, scratched 11 miles out of Unalakleet, bringing back memories of Jeff King’s Team, which did the same thing. Unbelievably, they just left Unalakleet exactly 12 HOURS ahead of John Baker’s record run. That would put a finish on MONDAY evening!! MONDAY??? Wow!

All three Kuskokwim Teams are going to be well rested and more than likely plan to make the run all the way through. The added rest in Kaltag will allow them to push through the night into the portage trail to Unalakleet.

The portage trail is going to be dark, but a clear moonlit night will help steer them West.

Teams on the trail are making pretty good times with Sonny Lindner making the trek in 9 hours 30 minutes or so. Lindner’s Team, now running in 3rd position, is well versed in this section of  trail as it is Lance Mackey’s 2013 Team. Mackey Teams in general have a knack for this trail, but so do our own Kusko Teams. Pete made the journey a couple of years ago in about the same time without a break, so I am thinking that is tonight’s plan.

Generally weather is the determinant factor on the Portage. Bad weather can ruin your day as it has on the Iron Dog and Iditarod races as the trail can go from good to horrible in a short time. Tonight though, that won’t be the case.

Actually, weather won’t be a factor for the rest of the race. Well not specifically. The trail is poor because of the “Polar Vortex” that pumped the arctic blast into the East Coast. The warm winds from Japan came directly through the Bering Sea and caused our thaw and then up to the North Pole where they cooled off and then back down to the Northeast. They froze and we thawed. It has been wierd. Just last month it was 45 in Nome!

Trail Description:

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.  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. Both are snug log cabins maintained by BLM and the local villages and can provide welcome refuges in case you encounter a storm.

Old Woman Mountain

Old Woman Mountain

Mushing Forecast for tonight:

EASTERN NORTON SOUND AND NULATO HILLS-
INCLUDING...UNALAKLEET...STEBBINS...ST MICHAEL...ELIM...KOYUK...
SHAKTOOLIK
159 PM AKST SAT MAR 8 2014

.TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS 1 TO 8 BELOW. NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO
20 MPH.  
.SUNDAY...SUNNY. HIGHS ZERO TO 6 ABOVE. NORTHEAST WINDS 5 TO
15 MPH.

 

Fast Ride – Look at them Doggies GO!

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What a ride that must have been! Richie and Pete just arrived into Kaltag after a 4 hour run down the Yukon from Nulato. Both Teams were smokin’ down the trail at a high rate of speed.

They were hot on the heels of Mike Williams Jr., who must have thought this was one of his Sprint Races back home. Teams have been posting real fast times down the trail today.

That will all come to a close shortly, however, as speeds on the Portage to Unalakleet have calmed down dramatically. Aliy Zirkle just arrived into Unalakleet, after a rest on the trail and a bit over 13 hours from Kaltag. There are a bakers dozen Teams presently mushing into the sun to catch up to her Team, but she has had good times along the trail since Ruby trying to work her way into the lead.

The Teams from the Kuskokwim are more than likely going to take a snack break here and then continue on the trail. Pete and Richie took a sizable rest at Nulato, so I can’t see too long of a break here. That is subject to change though and a couple of races ago, Pete and the Team did the Portage without a break on the Trail.

Stay Tuned! The Race up the Coast is upon us and that is always an exciting time. I’ll be curious to see trail times up the coast given there is so little snow in the area. The perfect trail is now in the rear view mirror and now it’s time to Giddy Up on to Nome!