Eye on the Trail – Nikolai Students Interview Richie.

This is from yesterday, but we just got it in. Thanks to the Students from Marcus Ackerman’s class at the Top of the Kuskokwim school in Nikolai. Believe it or not, I lived in Nikolai as a first grader when it was a two room schoolhouse. My dad was the Principal teacher there in 1970.

Thanks Kids!

Let’s Listen in to our future reporters!

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Mike Williams Jr. into McGrath – Aaron Wins Halfway Prize!


This Morning in Nikolai

At this hour Mike Jr. is into the McGrath Checkpoint. His time is going to be pretty close to other musher’s across the run in about 5 hours 30 minutes or so.

I’m expecting a break here and then probably on to Takotna and Ophir. With his 24 complete, he will begin to revert to a schedule that works well for his Team. It could be a 6/4 or something similar. The runs tonight are fairly long as he turns North for Ruby this evening with the Ophir to Cripple run the second longest of the race.

Speaking of LONG! There is talk of Sonny Lindner possibly heading all the way to Ruby for his 24 hour break. That would be a pretty long run, but the weather and trail are exceptional. Stay tuned- They are all keeping us guessing!

Congratulations to our Host Aaron Burmeister for winning the half way prize in Cripple! Go Aaron!!

I’ll update weather shortly as we get new forecasts at 4pm.

Good Job Qam!


Mikes dog, Flash

Mike Williams Jr. – Rested and On the Trail

Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Mike in an earlier race headed down the trail.

Mike Williams Jr. is back on the Iditarod Trail. Mike and his Team left Nikolai this morning at 10:18 with 10 dogs in harness. He has completed his mandatory 24 hour layover as well as his differential time. Time is added to a musher’s layover based on the Team’s Start position. The last Team will have no differential, while the first teams will have time added so that all mushers times are equal after the layover.

Mike will be the only Kusko Trio Team out on the Trail today as Richie and Pete are taking their 24 today in Takotna. Have Fun Mike!!



Mushing Weather for Today:

1131 AM AKST WED MAR 5 2014


KNOM Nikolai Reports – Laureli Gets Her Sound Byte

Yesterday I reported that Pete was leaving Nikolai beaten but still in it. I was speculating of course as we had not word from anyone. Based on what everyone else was doing, I couldn’t imagine anything else. But I was pretty far off. The Kusko Trio seems have come through the first part of the trail almost unscathed. Go Guys!! Nice Job!

Arguably the best reporter on the Iditarod beat, Laureli Kineen with KNOM always gives our guys the attention they deserve. I want to personally say how thankful I am for her interest, as Iditarod seems only concerned with the top 5 or so mushers into checkpoints. While that is well and good and really all that they can logistically do, there are SO many mushers back in the pack whose stories could and should be told. All of the mushers on the trail have invested their lives in this race and I am hopeful someday we come to a mutual resolution to this issue. (Like the ability for a musher to call someone from a checkpoint to tell their story – Phone Interviews are Great!! – See how we do it at Team19ak.com)

In any case, off my soapbox–

Laureli spent time with all 3 mushers in Nikolai. I love her reporting because she always asks the right questions and gets these guys, who are notorious for not speaking, to tell their story:



Click the photo or Here to head over to KNOM and read the whole story!

In Nikolai, Kaiser and Diehl survey terrible trail behind them  KNOM Radio Mission - Google Chrome 352014 91845 AM

Multiple Strategies at Play – Rest Periods at Work


Takotna Kitchen from a few years back. Looks like our friend Warren Palfrey in this photo.

Good Morning Race Fans! 8am comes early when waiting for your favorite Team to arrive into McGrath! Sue Gamache and Zack Fairbanks physically at the checkpoint and Emerie Fairbanks and I by proxy at the computer! Eyelids are a bit heavy this  morning for sure 🙂

Pete and the Team arrived into Takotna at 3:39 this morning where I am pretty confident that they are taking their 24 hour layover. Richie was about an hour and 15 minutes or so ahead of them. They will get a chance to breathe a bit, relax and chat with the fairly large group of fellow mushers also on their break.

This day of the race is always very interesting as we get to see several different strategies play out over the day. By tomorrow evening, everyone will have taken their layover and will all be on the same schedule, but today there are 3 real strategies a work.

1. Push Hard – Rest Early

Martin Buser and Mike Williams Jr. have pushed hard to Nikolai and taken their 24 hour layover there. This will put them on the trail this morning on the trail to the two 8 hour layovers of the Yukon and the Coast.

2. Rest at McGrath or Takotna

Many mushers have taken their layovers in these checkpoints for years. They have sleds prepositioned and they know the facilities are downright homey. Pete and Richie have always taken their breaks here.

3. Push Long – Rest Later

We are seeing this strategy play out today with at least 5 mushers moving towards Cripple or even possibly Ruby.  John Baker and a few mushers are camped out in Ophir, but Jeff King, Aaron Burmeister, and others are pushing North to the fast trail of the Yukon. These mushers are working a strategy of taking their 24 hour break closer to the actual midpoint in the race.

All of these strategies would have different outcomes if weather were any where near a factor in this year’s race, but it doesn’t look like it. If your strategy plays out in such a way that you miss or get hit by a storm that slows you down, then it pays different dividends. In this year’s race though, the weather outlook until Tuesday from McGrath up through Unalakleet and into Nome is fairly similar: North wind, especially on the coast, Temperatures 0-15, and good visibilities- A perfect Non-Storm!

It is great fun to watch what happens and see how it plays out for later in the race. Will the teams that rested early do as well as those that rested later? Watch and see, but its going to be great fun to watch from the armchair! As things are going, it is evident, that even with the brutal trail into Nikolai, times are at a record pace for even the top 10 mushers.

Unfortunately that doesn’t bode well for the Team Kaiser Pit Crew as our tickets into Nome are Tuesday evening. The world is converging on Nome for the Finish– Its going to be a great one, but could be Tuesday morning at this pace.

Quickly through McGrath and On to those Pies! Sue’s Report


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They talk about the Pies at the Starting Line. Its an addiction really. Sure you can take a break in other places, but get close to those pies in Takotna and it really gets hard to pass up.

Pete and the Team were quickly through McGrath. Sue Gamache with Donlin Gold stayed up for him and here is her report with photos and a quick phone call.

–Sue Gamache-

Pete came thru McGrath looking good. Team was looking good. He signed in…checked the team. Asked what the temperature was. I said I was taking pictures for you. He said thanks. Appreciate that.. he took off at a fast pace skidded around the corner as he turned onto the Kuskokwim headed for Takotna.

Takotna Pies

Takotna Pies


Richie Report – In and Out of McGrath – Sue Gamache Reporting

IMG_9210Richie and his Team just arrived into McGrath and quickly set right out on the trail. He spent a little more than 6 hours on the 48 mile run and has about 20 miles until the Takotna checkpoint and a 24 hour layover. He arrived at 11:53 and departed just 3 minutes later after dropping a dog.

Richie would feel quite at home in McGrath, as it is very similar to Richie’s hometown of Aniak as it has Stores and Roads and feels less like a village that a town like Akiak where Mike Williams Jr. lives.

This is mainly because both Aniak and McGrath were refueling points for aircraft and minihubs for mail in the old days.

McGrath is a neat place, and in the early days it was THE place to take the 24 hour layover. Nowadays, Teams are faster and reaching McGrath faster and taking the break later.

Donlin Gold is a big supporter of our mushers out in the YK Delta and Sue Gamache with the company scored a seat into McGrath to watch the teams. She called me a bit ago and we chatted about Richie and his team. He had a small cheering section as he went through the checkpoint.

Listen in-


Thanks Sue!!

Back on the Trail – Rest Stop Ahead

Pete and the Team are just leaving Nikolai after their break at the Checkpoint. That’s good news for Team Kaiser Fans as we know now that if he’s on the trail, though beat up, He’s still in the game!

If he heads out for Takotna, Pete will lead the Team out over 66 or so miles of great trail. As I noted before, Teams were showing real fine speeds on the section into McGrath and the Zirkle Team is burning it into Takotna.

Current McGrath weather is 14 degrees, Overcast skies, and a very light wind from the North.

This trail is easy money as it is the traditional travel trail between Nikolai, McGrath, and Takotna. This trail will remind the Team of the Home Trails of Bethel (When we have them) and will be a pleasant mushing break from the craziness of today.

Expect an eight hour run or so on this stretch with possibly a short break in McGrath. Pete was talking about changing it up, so he may break in that checkpoint, but we will have to see. The leader, Aliye Zirkles Team made the Takotna run in 7 hours and 20 minutes for a reference.

Go Team Kaiser!!