Iditarod 23- Shootout at Shaktoolik

It’s getting exciting!

After 3 1/2 hours of rest both Ryan and Pete are back on the trail to Koyuk. Pete dropped 1 dog and left with 10 in harness.

Ryan is not quite 45 minutes ahead, but he will looking back all night for that orange and black parka hot on his tail. This can be a tough long stretch was Koyuk seems to just sit there hour by hour.

This run reminds me each year of the year Team Kaiser passed Mitch Seavey in the middle of the night completely asleep at the wheel. Nothing like great lead dogs!

The interval is 6 miles and I am thinking we will see this play out for the foreseeable future. This is Iditarod racing at it’s finest. A good fast Team followed by another good fast Team. Anything can happen and both of these competitors have lived, dreamed, and planned for just this occasion.

For Ryan, this is the family business. The dream that of his grandfather, Joe Redington, to revitalize dog sled mushing and keep it alive is actually flowing through his veins. A Redington has never won this race, though not for the lack of trying on behalf of brothers, uncles, and cousins. Ryan is on the coast and this is the closest any of them has been.

For Pete, this is also the culmination of a dream spawned on the kitchen table with his mom and dad, and now his life and that of his own family. Already a champion, Pete lives for this competition. This is what all the rest of the 355 days of the year revolve around.

It is going to come down to consistency and also to luck of what lies ahead. Anything can happen in the next 200 miles of trail.

We should see these guys into Koyuk between 9 and 10pm this evening, depending on trail and wind.

Go Team Kaiser! Please consider stopping by the Team Kaiser Facebook Page and giving us a like! No matter what happens, we want a great welcome for him online!!

I have been contemplating the Team lately and am truly amazed by the breeding and endurance of this great animal. After doing a little research I found that dogs were being selectively bred over 9500 years ago in the arctic!! Read below to learn some cool details about this breed and what makes it so amazing:

From the New York Times-

Sled dogs have well-known roots in human prehistory. A 12,500-year-old tool found at one Arctic site hints at its possible use on sleds. And archaeological investigations at a well-known site on Zhokov Island in the Siberian Sea uncovered dog bones and sled technology indicating that the dogs may have been the first canines bred for a specific task.

Dr. Sinding and colleagues dug deep into the DNA of one of those dogs, using a jawbone from the site dating to 9,500 years ago. They also sequenced the genomes of a Siberian wolf dating to 33,000 years ago and 10 modern Greenland sled dogs. They relied on other canine genomes archived in databases as well.

They found that the Zhokov dog was closest to modern-day sled dogs, particularly to the Greenland sled dogs, which are a “land race,” bred for a task and sharing a look and behavior but not the sort of breed for which studbooks and records are kept.

The Zhokov dog was not a direct ancestor of modern sled dogs, but it shared a common ancestor with modern sled dogs that was probably about 12,000 years old. This evidence suggested that the sled-dog type, bred for hauling loads in brutal winters, was already established 9,500 years ago.

The researchers also found that sled dogs, ancient and modern, did not show interbreeding with wolves, even though other modern dog breeds do, and dog-wolf matings were known in Greenland in historic times. The results suggest hybrids may not have been much use in pulling sleds.

Then the researchers started looking for genes that were different in sled dogs from both wolves and other dog breeds. They found several that made sense. One is involved in a variety of physiological functions including calcium transport and temperature sensitivity. They don’t know what exactly it does in sled dogs, but they do know that several similar genes are different in mammoths, creatures of the cold, and elephants, animals of more temperate climates, suggesting some kind of adaptation to arctic life.

Another gene that distinguished sled dogs from other dogs is involved in coping with low oxygen conditions. It is also found in a group of humans, sea nomads, who have been diving for thousands of years. It could, Dr. Sinding said, contribute to fitness for the extreme demands of long sled-hauling trips.


Iditarod 23- Three Into Shaktoolik

Good Afternoon Race Fans!

It’s another exciting day on the Iditarod Trail as the top three Teams have checked in to Shaktoolik on Iditarod Sunday.

Ryan Redington checked into the checkpoint at 13:20 with 46 minute lead on Pete and the Team. Pete had a few minutes faster run of 5 hours and 7 minutes which, after looking at the stats for prior years, is pretty much average for the top teams at this point in the race. Richie Diehl just checked in about 3:30 which should put him about 90 minutes behind Team Kaiser.

In Richie’s trail interview he said he was having a tough time figuring out the time change. He took and exactly 5 hour rest instead of 4 at the campsite. I’m hoping he didn’t calculate wrong to put him an hour behind. I love the time change because of the daylight in the evening, but put a sleep deprived musher to figure out what time to leave and hey, it could happen. We will find out later to be sure.

Teams are making their way to catch the top three, but Matt Hall and Kelly Maixner are still 25 miles or so back.

I’m expecting a 4 hour break for Teams here as they have a 50 mile run out over the ice. They and their Teams need to be rested and mentally alert on this run into the wind over the ice. Luckily the forecast is for the winds to subside, which should make it at least palatable. It should be a pretty run in the dusk with the mountains lit up by the sunset.

Go Team Kaiser!!



Iditarod 23- Grab Coffee and GO! Projected Finish Time??

What a great race!!

I’ve been doing a little stat scouring this morning in the Iditarod Archives to see what time the Winner will arrive in Nome. Team Kaiser Pit crew is feverishly trying to figure when to go. I went back through and checked times out of Unalakleet and Finish Time of the winner. In 2016, though not the record Iditarod time, Dallas Seavey made the run from Unalakleet to the Finish, inclusive of rest, mandatory layover, etc in 45 hours 6 minutes.

Using that data I added that time to Ryan Redington’s Unalakleet out time to get the earliest (at this point) finish time for the Team that wins this race in 2023. Obviously the winner yet to be determined and there are almost 250 miles to go, but it’s almost time to be getting ready for a finish!!

Here’s the data. It’s kind of interesting. Of course the picture will become much clearer as we get further up the trail, but here is a good idea. What is interesting is that this is the second earliest that Teams have checked out of Unalakleet on the trail to Nome. Go Team Kaiser!!

Here are Photos from this morning in Unalakleet. A super quick grab of coffee and snacks for the Team and back on the trail!


Iditarod 23- Two Runs to Shaktoolik


Good Morning Race Fans! If it seems early, it is, but with your clocks pushed forward, the evenings will be worth rubbing sleep out of your eyes for a few days.

If you got a chance to see the Live Iditarod Cam in Unalakleet this morning, you saw what I did: An AWESOME looking dog Team!

We are seeing both strategies for Kaltag to Shaktoolik and beyond play out side by side in this race. Ryan Redington was first into Unalakleet this morning 4:20am after doing a 10 hour run direct. Pete and Team Kaiser camped out in the trees 16 miles out of Unalakleet and will make the run to Shaktoolik in two equal runs. Pete and the Team were into Unalakleet at 8:54am.

Leaving Kaltag, Pete was 37 minutes behind Team Redington. Leaving Unalakleet the deficit has risen a bit to 52 minutes.

The gamble is resting 4 hours after a 60 mile run vs resting 3 hours 3o minutes after an 85 mile run. The results of the different strategies won’t play out immediately, but it’s cool to watch and see. The three top Teams with two different strategies. Or does it matter? We shall see!!

The next section of the trail into Shaktoolik is not an easy one and today winds are picking up with Shaktoolik pretty much as it always is– Windy and Cold! The trail through the Blueberry hills has multiple hill climbs and this morning is right into the wind.

I did some quick calculations and it appears we are about 60 hours from the finish of Iditarod 2023. This lasts 60 can be very challenging and finally weather looks to be part of that challenge.

Shaktoolik is reporting Temperatures -6, Winds from the North at 22, and a Windchill of -31.  The forecast is more of the same as they move up towards Koyuk which is reporting warm temperatures and calm wind.

Pete and the Team will move up to Shaktoolik and take a 4 hour break as they prepare for the trail to Koyuk. There were rumors that the sea ice was weak and that the trail was going around, but officially and through the Insider, I haven’t heard anything. That means the trail from “Shak” to Koyuk will be pretty brutal against a constant biting wind. What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon and evening!!

Richie was having difficulty dealing with the time change and I wonder if he overslept. He took an extra hour at his camp spot early this morning. Either that or the dogs just needed a bit more in the tank. Team Real Diehl is about 11 miles behind Pete.

Taking one last look at the tracker, both Ryan and Pete are traveling with very similar speeds. Pete is about 6 miles back. I’m thinking that this is going to be a duel to the finish and that means glued to the tracker! Haha!

Go Team Kaiser!!




Iditarod 23- Three Top Timed Teams Head for Unalakleet

It has the makings of a real shoot out on this next run to Shaktoolik!

All three Teams took similar 4 hour 30 minute (Give or Take) breaks in Kaltag before heading off on the Trail. All three Teams looked real nice heading off on the trail, so the excitement will be building over night for sure.

I did a little Stat Sniffing and what I found was a bit surprising! Take a look:

The four Teams first into Kaltag hold some of the fastest times ever between Kaltag and Unalakleet. In fact, only Linwood Fiedler has had a faster time that Pete at 9:04.

Now, if Teams take a break enroute to Shaktoolik as I think they may, none of these times will apply of course. What it does tell us is that each Team does well on this section and is very well acquainted with what it takes to make good time over the trail.

It is 85 miles to Unalakleet and 40 miles to Shaktoolik.

Iditarod Racing Weather forecast is exceptional.
Tonight- Snow likely in the evening, then snow after midnight. Patchy freezing fog. Snow accumulation around 1 inch. Lows 3 below to 6 above. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph.
Sunday- Mostly sunny. A chance of snow in the morning. Highs zero to 6 above. North winds 10 to 20 mph.

Go Team Kaiser!!



At the Front of the Pack – Ryan Air

It is worth noting that the three leaders mushing into Kaltag this afternoon are Ryan Air Sponsored Teams! Not only are all three Team from Alaska, they all have deep roots in mushing and rural Alaska!

Many thanks to Ryan Air who, over the years, has been a Prime Sponsor to Team Kaiser, Real Deihl Racing, and so many other Teams from Rural Alaska. Boyuk and Lee are tremendous in their support and I couldn’t write further in this race without acknowledging all of the Team at Ryan Air.

A few years ago Qrill Pet joined together a few Teams to build a race Team.

By chance and by happenstance, or by darn great support, Ryan Air has three Teams at the Front of the Pack! Just where they are in our hearts all the time!

Quyana Ryan Air!!


Iditarod 23- 16-16-16 into Kaltag

Good Afternoon Team Kaiser!

Action in the Kaltag checkpoint is just underway as Ryan Redington led Richie Diehl and Pete Kaiser into the last checkpoint on the Yukon River for 2023!

Each Team is 16 minutes apart on the leader board with Ryan holding a 16 minute lead on Richie and a 32 minute lead on Pete and the Team.

A 4 hour break here will have them leaving around dinner time tonight. Pete and Richie in later years have made the next trail direct to Shaktoolik in two runs camping out about halfway between with a quick sign in and out in Unalakleet. In earlier years, Pete would take a break in Unalakleet, but this later strategy has worked well for him and I expect it again this year.

Momma Kaiser Bethany is reporting possible issues on the sea ice on the run to Koyuk as well as Golovin Bay. I don’t have a confirmation on that, but if so, it will add a few miles to the trip to Koyuk and White Mountain. I’ll keep you posted once I confirm the details.

Pete and the Team looked great coming into Kaltag as did the other two Teams, so this is going to be an exciting evening seeing how it all shakes out on the 125 mile run to Shaktoolik. In 2019 Pete made the run in 21 hours, but in 2017, on a fast trail such as this, Mitch Seavey made the run in 16hrs 20 minutes.

Weather is still outstanding. Currently it is 7 above with a light Northeast wind. Unalakleet is showing 10 degrees as well. Both are clear as a bell, so tonight’s ride should be another stargazer’s joy!

All three mushers look a little tired. They are walking a little slower as they go through the motions of dog care after a long run through the night. A bit of rest will be a welcome respite before the trek to the Bering Sea Coat as they count down miles to the burled arches in Nome.

Soon the checkpoint will be filling with the next group of Teams that are hot on the heels of these leaders. Kaltag is going become the hub of Iditarod activity shortly. Local kids and grownups love to see the Teams as they go through town. It’s one of the fun times of the year for all checkpoints to see the influx of activity and cheer on their favorite Teams. I’m sure they have great stories to tell after all of the years of the Iditarod. Some villages only see Teams every other year, but Kaltag and the others are always on the trail schedule.

Currently, Chef Pete is working the dogfood kitchen to make 11 dinner meals before taking a rest himself. Being a musher is just like running a small business yourself. Always wearing different hats– Chief cook and bottle washer, Team leader, navigator, and of course head caregiver!

Thanks for following along!

Go Team Kaiser!!