Seventy Seven Sprint Miles to Go!

outwhtmtn

Pete and the Team are back on the trail for Nome. There are 77 miles to go, but there are three teams vying for the 13th position. It is going to be a sprint race for the burled arches under clear skies and an absolutely beautiful day. Pete and the Team will need sunglasses for sure as the sun is just brilliant.

Word from the trail is that some parts of the trail are wind blown and drifting near Safety and the Wind is blowing from the North near the Safety Blowhole at near 30mph. This will give the young team a workout and test them a bit, but the challenge will be worth it for future races.

Weather for today is expected to be good for the balance of the Race for Pete and the Team.

Weather Outlook:

SOUTHERN SEWARD PENINSULA COAST-
INCLUDING...NOME...WHITE MOUNTAIN...GOLOVIN
343 PM AKDT WED MAR 18 2015

.TONIGHT...FROM NOME WEST...PARTLY CLOUDY WITH PATCHY FOG AND
LIGHT WINDS. EAST OF NOME...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH FLURRIES AND AREAS
OF BLOWING SNOW. NORTH WINDS 20 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 35 MPH. LOWS 5
TO 15 ABOVE.

Here is the trail description from Iditarod:

This can be one of the most dangerous stretches on the race when the wind blows or a storm hits. It can make or break champions, not to mention back- of-the-packers. Mushers have nearly died within what would normally be a few hours’ easy running to Nome. In reasonable weather, this is a pleasant five- to eight-hour run; in the worst conditions, it can be impassable.

The race uses the main snowmachine trail to Nome. It is well marked at the beginning of the race, but inevitably many markers are knocked over or blown down. Some parts have been permanently marked. Markers are absolutely critical for this leg because visibility can be near zero in storms and ground blizzards.

The trail leaves White Mountain on the Fish River for about three miles, and then leaves the river to cut overland to the southwest, crossing low, rolling tundra and several streams before reaching the Klokerblok River. It runs up the river and across some low ridges, and then crosses into the drainage of the Topkok River.

The trail then turns west and climbs over a series of barren ridges to a 400-foot saddle just northwest of Topkok Head, overlooking the coast. It then descends sharply to the beach, reaching the Nome Kennel Club shelter cabin at the foot of the hill, 30 miles from White Mountain.

For the next 12 miles the trail runs along or just behind the dune line and the “driftwood line” on the shore. This stretch is wide open and is subject to winds of more than 80 miles an hour from the north, as well as blinding whiteouts. The trail will join the Nome-to-Council road (not plowed in the winter) at the Bonanza Ferry bridge and then follow it for the last 12 miles to Safety.

Trail conditions on this leg can range from excellent to abysmal, and usually include glare ice, overflow, drifted snow, bare tundra, sand, and exposed gravel on the road. You MUST check the weather carefully before leaving White Mountain; you may want to wait it out, stop at a shelter cabin, or at least convoy with another musher (preferably someone who has run this stretch before).

One consideration is that the wind will most likely die down right after sunrise (if it’s going to die down at all), but will probably come back up by noon and continue to blow through the afternoon and evening. In such situations, it is best to ask the locals at White Mountain or call race headquarters in Nome. All other things being equal, try to leave White Mountain about three hours before sunrise, so as to be heading up Topkok to catch any lull in the wind plus have daylight for the worst part of the run.

Caught Cat Nappin’ in Elim – K-Train Passes ‘Em By

13

Team Kaiser is rollin’ on a Rail this morning!

As Teams were resting in Elim, Team Kaiser took a short one hour break and went back on the trail. Teams that were in Elim were caught cat napping.

Whatever happened to Pete and the Team on the trail from Skaktoolik was obviously helped by a 13 hour break in the checkpoint.

Let’s talk about 13. Is 13 the Lucky Number?

Pete and the Team have finished in 13th place for the last 3 years.

The Team Kaiser Fan Club is obviously very excited this morning!

GO Team Kaiser!

And They’re Off! No Rest for the Weary!

white-mnt-golovin-001

White Mountain – 2012 during the Day

Never say never! Bethany and I were watching the tracker one last time before turning the computers off for the evening and what do we see?? Mr. Kaiser has got another plan brewing. Pete and the Team are in and out of Elim and back out on the trail!

Pete trains 100 mile runs regularly and when the Team wants to go, he lets them. In this case, they must be on fire as they are burning up the trail on the way to White Mountain.

Teams on the trail better look over their shoulder– There’s a freight train behind them and it’s name is Team Kaiser!

Go Team Kaiser!!

Golovin Weather – Temperature 12F – Wind West 10knot – Visibility 10 miles – Mostly cloudy.

Trail Description to White Mountain:

This is one of the more interesting legs on the race, with quite a variety of trail and terrain in a very short distance. Moreover, there is always a possibility of two extremely different routes for the first ten miles. The race follows the main snowmachine “highway” from Elim to Golovin and it is usually well marked and packed.

The trail usually heads back out on the sea ice from Elim and runs a mile or two offshore to a cabin at Walla Walla, on the coast eight miles south of Elim. In some years, when there is open water just off shore, the traill will stay overland on the Old Elim Mail Trail.

At Walla Walla, the trail rurns inland and climbs over the Kwiktalik Mountains with a series of long, moderately hard grades. The final summit is 1,000 feet at Little McKinley, about eight miles past Walla Walla and ten miles from Golovin. This is considered the hardest climb on the last half of the race.

The trail then makes a fast descent to Golovin Bay, running northwest along the bay ice for the last five miles to Golovnin. (The bay was first explored by Captain Gloving of the Imperial Russian Navy in the early 1800’s. The bay and lagoon behind the town retain the original spelling; the town’s name ha been changed over the years.)

Plan on three to four hours for this leg. If the weather is bad, the trip over the mountain can be a long, hard one because it is almost all above timberline and exposed to the wind. The trail over Little McKinley can range from icy and windswept to soft and punchy.

After Golovin:

This is normally a yawner (unless the wind is blowing or it’s snowing). The trail follows the main snowmachine route, running straight as an arrow for ten miles across Golovnin Lagoon, then winding gently around (with some gentle ups and downs) to cross the delta of the Fish River. The last few miles are on the river. There is sometimes overflow on the lagoon or river. Plan on two hours for the trip, perhaps three if the wind is blowing.

Fast Time to Elim! Teamwork on the Mend!

Pete Kaiser's team runs down the bank and onto the sea ice as he leaves the Elim checkpoint at dawn on Tuesday March 12, 2013.

Pete Kaiser’s team runs down the bank and onto the sea ice as he leaves the Elim checkpoint at dawn on Tuesday March 12, 2013.

After the struggle of today, a nice quick run, best time today between Koyuk and Elim, has to give Pete and the Team some measure of confidence. After a great showing for most of the race, Pete took extra time in Koyuk to regroup before heading out for Elim this afternoon.

I am expecting a good break here. Probably 4 hours before making the next leg to White Mountain, 46 miles away. Teams into White Mountain today have had fairly slow trail times with Dallas having the quickest time at 7 hours and 13 minutes, but the average being closer to 8 hours or so.

With a fragile Team, a break here will solidify the confidence in Musher and Team and put the trials of Koyuk into a distant memory.

It has to be a good feeling to see this improvement for Pete. The young Team is performing nicely with such a nice run.

Go Team Kaiser!

Mushing Weather for the Morning:

OUTHERN SEWARD PENINSULA COAST-
INCLUDING...NOME...WHITE MOUNTAIN...GOLOVIN
307 PM AKDT TUE MAR 17 2015

.TONIGHT...CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS. PATCHY FOG. LOWS
AROUND 10. NORTHEAST WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH. 
.WEDNESDAY...PATCHY FOG IN THE MORNING. MOSTLY CLOUDY. SCATTERED
SNOW SHOWERS IN THE MORNING...THEN PARTLY SUNNY IN THE AFTERNOON.
HIGHS IN THE LOWER TO MID 20S. NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH.

Kaiser Racing Radio – Race or Run? How to Keep Going

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Our Final Kaiser Racing Radio for the 2105 Iditarod. After today’s long break in Koyuk, we talk about the thought process of a musher when things go sour. We also talk about the future of mushing. How do we keep this sport alive? How do we get young mushers to enter this sport. Good conversation for the last one! Thanks to Myron Angstman for allowing me to pick his brain!