Joe Runyan’s words bring a chill to our collective spines as we have gone from a gleeful celebration of racing, through our digital world, to realization that this is the real deal. The wrong move could cost Mushers and Teams greatly. Alaskan weather often brings this realization to those unprepared. In this case, though prepared, these Teams are tired and weary and looking forward to the Finish. All too often simple mistakes can be too costly.
My Intent? Agreeing with Joe Runyan on the Status of the Race.
Posted by Joe Runyan Date: March 10, 2014 11:40 pm
March 10 nome 11:20 More info from the trail
Another call give us more insight to developments on the trail.
King, we are told, was apparently moving in strong winds, when a gust blew sled and team off the trail into driftwood. King was there to untangle the team, and did in fact got them back in line but failed to get the team rolling again. According to our information, Jeff has been wadded up in the drift for an hour and a half.
Aliy passed and didn’t know she passed. She continued to Safety and proceeded to drop several dogs. The wind, having increased, she decided to stay in Safety cabin and regroup. Whether someone told her that she had passed Jeff is not relevant, as she most certainly would know that Jeff had not signed into Safety.
Meanwhile, if all these developments weren’t enough, we are told that wind on the trail ahead around Cape Nome to the finish is absolutely brutal.
Now, to the question astute fans want to ask—What about Dallas Seavey? According to the tracker he is 12 miles from contacting King .
Of course, the development is bizarre when considering the race weather for the last eight days. The weather has been mild for the last 8 days, but the last six hours have developed unimaginable weather.
We’re informed with the best information we can get that winds are horrific at Safety and describe conditions and visibility as strictly marker to marker. Also, according to our sources, the trail going around Cape Nome (further on the trail to Nome) is head-on and will be very strong.
With this new information we learn that Aliy is still in the Safety checkpoint and not continuing in the wind.
What do I think about the wind? Rarely do I insert my own direct personal anecdotes into the dialogue, but I think this race is shut down. The winds into Nome are legendary and life threatening. They have killed people, and its not joking around. If you have ever been caught in the wind, you will understand that wind is the ultimate weapon of an arctic winter. In my racing days, I actually sat down and decided what I would do in a big blow. My decision was to not test it. Sometimes you can make it, but often you can’t. To go into the wind and expect others to risk their life, or risk frostbite, to save your decision is foolhardy.
The excitement of the Iditarod doesn’t end until the last musher crosses the Burled Arches in Nome. But the fever pitch is building to crown the 2014 Iditarod Champion for sure!
When Team Kaiser Pit Crew boarded the Jet to Anchorage at 8, Jeff King seemed to have the race under control. Well as our turbulent flight arrived in Anchorage, it was no match to the turbulence of the race up near the Safetly.
As the Jet pulled into the gate, my phone started to buzz, and Buzz, and BUZZ! Tiffany Tony is Screaming in my Ear- SHE’S PASSED HIM!!!
Aliy had passed Jeff? Naw, I said, that can’t be true.
Apparently it is.
Whatever the reason, Aliy and her Team were into the Safety checkpoint and Jeff has not made it there. The winds now near Safety are Brutal. Reports have it close to 45mph. It’s bad enough that Sebastian Schnuelle said he’s just not going back out there to check.
Cape Nome this Afternoon
My phone wasn’t the only phone ringing. As I called Myron Angstman, he also had a hot hand from fielding calls. I got a call in and he said this has happened before– The Finish has had it’s lore of exciting times in the last bit of the race.
Thought the news of the day is of Jeff King and the Win at the Finish Line, conditions are brutal on the trail tonight.
Fast Teams have been reduced to a crawl as they attempt to make the crossing of Golovin Bay. The wind has been gusting over 30mph and top teams from yesterday are posting times that are pitiful, yet an indicator of the terrible trail.
Martin Buser, the jackrabbit for much of the race made the journey into White Mountain this afternoon in well over 12 hours compared to Jeff King, who last night made the trip in just over 6.
As usual, when Alaska Weather rears its head, pay attention because often it has a temper!
Tonight’s Weather doesn’t look for much improvement and our Teams are going to have their work cut out for them for sure!
432 PM AKDT MON MAR 10 2014.TONIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW. LOWS 2 TO 7
BELOW. NORTH WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH. EAST OF NOME...AREAS OF BLOWING
SNOW WITH GUSTS TO 40 MPH.
.TUESDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF SNOW IN THE AFTERNOON.
HIGHS 4 BELOW TO 1 ABOVE. NORTH WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH. EAST OF
NOME...AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW WITH GUSTS TO 30 MPH.
I just got a call from Myron Angstman concerning the conditions and he has a great trail report and some insight as to what Teams are facing out there tonight.
Pete and the Team are out of Koyuk on the Trail to White Mountain. It’s going to be an interesting trail, with no snow and such, but it will be memorable!
They were followed out by Richie and his Team, and Wade Mars, who has been traveling with them since Kaltag.
Temperatures in Koyuk this hour are just below zero with light winds. That won’t be the case for the entire journey, though, as Golovin is calling 20 mph winds and several areas that are called “Blow Holes,” or natural wind tunnels.
From Bush Pilot’s Forum:
Mushers move through a series of natural wind tunnels, called “blow holes”, any of which (or all of which, or none of which) may be blowing at any given time. You can easily move through a hurricane-force gale with blowing snow & come suddenly into a calm area—or vice versa. Moreover, the wind can start up within minutes & reach hurricane force within an hour, or quit just as quickly. It can make or break champions and Teams.
Mushing Forecast for today:
.TODAY...SUNNY. AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW DEVELOPING IN THE
AFTERNOON. HIGHS ZERO TO 10 ABOVE. NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH.
Mike and his Team are into Koyuk. Looking at the Leaderboard, Mike had a very impressive run into Koyuk. Mike trained on nothing but glare ice and the very same windy conditions that this trail had in store. It obviously paid off! Way to go Mike!
This is revision 2 of the Finish Guestimate, again based on the 2011 Record run.
The one variable that will change this is the Trail times that have been faster by Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle. In this sheet, Jeff was 20 minutes faster from Koyuk to Elim and an hour faster from Elim to White Mountain. The only reason for the similarity is that King took an hour and 30 minute rest in Elim. On the 77 mile race for Nome, both teams could “open it up” and have faster times. This might put the Winner an hour or so earlier.
As for Pete and the Team, who just officially arrived into Koyuk at 8:18 this morning, he is about 18 hours back from Jeff. This puts Team Kaiser into Nome about 6 pm or so, followed closely by Richie, and later by Mike Jr.