Iditarod 23- Anything Can Happen, And Generally Does

Good Morning Race Fans!

OMG! Stunned again is all I can say!

Over the years we have seen so many situations happen that completely change the landscape of the race.

The first thing that came to mind when I heard that Brent Sass had scratched was– Fate happens again! I remember the year that Jeff King had the race in pure control with Aliy Zirkle in hot pursuit. A freak wind storm came up all of a sudden at Safety and pushed Jeff’s Team into the driftwood. He had to scratch. Aliy, just a few miles behind stopped and huddled her Team in the Safety cabin. The wind was crazy strong. And then, just like that, the wind subsided and Dallas Seavey cruised on by as if nothing ever happened. Fate drew it’s cards and the two leaders were out.

In this case, Brent has a dental issue and had to scratch at the Eagle Island checkpoint. Gosh!! We offer our extreme condolences to last year’s champion. It’s doubly disappointing for the former champ as in 2015, he inadvertently had an iPod with him that violated the rules at the time that banned electronic devices that could communicate. He mushed home to Fairbanks that year. In both cases, the Team was in fine shape and a musher issue caused the scratch. Super bummer.

But this is dogsled mushing and anything can happen and generally does. It has happened to countless mushers over the years and there really isn’t much to say but, “It happens…”

With one of the front runners and contenders out of the race, Pete and Richie are in great position at the very front of the pack. Ron and I were looking at run times and this year’s time from Grayling to Kaltag looks to be almost 5 hours faster than Pete’s win in 2019.

It’s already time to be looking at the Finish line, believe it or not!

In 2019 Pete left Kaltag on the trail to Nome and the journey took 3 days and 3 hours. In 2018, Joar Leifseth-Ulsom did it in 3 days flat. We are looking at the race leaders making it to Kaltag around noon. Add a four hour break and we are looking at a Tuesday early afternoon finish. That’s considering trail times from 2018-19. Considering a faster trail, it could undoubtedly be earlier than that.

Team Kaiser Super Host Bob Madden is reporting that the trails around Nome are hard and fast. Nome had similar conditions to Bethel with a super warm spell with rain that has now frozen trails into very hard packed and icy. That should make for fast times as well.

In the movie, “The Alamo” with John Wayne, there’s a scene where Gen. Sam Houston says, “The Fly in the Buttermilk…” referring to the problem with his plan. In our case, the “Fly in the Buttermilk” is that the weather outlook for the coast from Unalakleet to Nome is deteriorating. Strong South winds and snow are in the forecast for Monday. That could be a factor for a changing trail with snow, wind, and low visibility. Nothing lasts forever, and I fear that this great weather that Teams have been running in is going to me the next challenge for Pete and the Team. Luckily experience is in his back pocket and this isn’t anything he and the Team haven’t seen before.

Weather Outlook-
Today- A 20 percent chance of snow after 3pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 14. Calm wind.
Tonight- Snow, mainly after 9pm. Patchy freezing fog after 3am. Low around -5. South wind around 5 mph becoming north after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Tonight- Snow. Patchy freezing fog between 9pm and midnight. Low around -1. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming north 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Sunday- A 20 percent chance of snow before 9am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 4. North wind around 15 mph.
Sunday Night- Partly cloudy, with a low around -9. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming south after midnight.

Sunday Night- Increasing clouds, with a low around -13. North wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south after midnight.
Monday- Snow likely, mainly after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 9. South wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Monday Night- A chance of snow before 9pm, then a slight chance of snow after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -3. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Stay Tuned!

Go Team Kaiser!!



Iditarod 23- Sun Goes Down, Action Heats Up!

Good Evening Race Fans!!

As the sun and temperatures drop, the action is heating up in the 2023 Iditarod. Pete and Richie, off their mandatory 8 hour layover, are back on the trail and joined with at least 7 other Teams that have a shot at winning this race as well!

Leader Brent Sass hasn’t taken his mandatory 8 and it looks like he might be going to take it at the Eagle Island checkpoint, halfway to Kaltag.

All other Teams on the trail past Grayling have taken their layovers and the race is on tonight. Well… Kinda… It’s 468 long miles from Grayling to Nome at this point in the race. Jeff King always says that the trick to dogsled mushing is to go the fastest slow you can go. In other words pacing, rest, feeding, and making sure that the musher stays alert are key not only winning this race, but just finishing it.

The action is heating up, however, as from here on any small mistake can be a deal breaker. Mushers are operating on just a bit of rest, though the 8 hour did wonders after 5 days on the trail. I’d venture to guess that Pete need the rest just as much as the Team. Speaking of rest and recharge, Emerie taking new baby Nolan had to be seriously a recharge for new Dad Richie Diehl. He told me in his pre-race interview that missing him was going to be the biggest challenge of this race.

Most Teams are down to 10 or 11 dogs with both Pete and Richie with 11. Trimming the Team at this point in the race isn’t anything negative at all. In fact a smaller Team is much easier and faster to tend to by the sleep deprived musher. 3 less mouths to feed and care for makes much quicker work on the trail or in the checkpoint.

Tonight Teams will be cooled off temperature-wise alright. Weather cams show a bit of ice fog and as they move North it will cool to just about zero degrees with very light wind. The moon is not quite full, but should light up the trail very nicely. In the old days while flying as a crewchief on night medievacs, full moon nights like this made it so bright that we didn’t even need night vision goggles. Your eyes would get used to the dark and it was amazing how much detail you could see. For Teams traveling tonight it should be a spectacle of stars and moon and maybe even some Starlink satellites overhead!

It’s the Friday night of the Iditarod! Have a cold one and toast “Go Team Kaiser!”



Iditarod 23 – Taking the Day in Grayling

Good Afternoon Race Fans!!

Warm sun, a visit from family and friends, so why not take the day and enjoy the sunshine while taking the 8 hour Mandatory Yukon Break!!

Pete and Richie are into Grayling for their 8 hour break. The two wives, Emerie and Bethany, accompanied by Grandpa Gonders and baby Nolan, needed a ride to see their hubbies. Nothing like having a Charter Operator on the Team!

Nate DeHaan, who ran the Kaiser B Team in the Kuskokwim 300, owns and operates DeHaan Aviation in Bethel. A quick call and the four were airborne to the checkpoint 156 miles to the Northeast.

It is absolutely B-E-A-Utiful weather for this year’s Iditarod. Sometimes you get lucky! Haha!

Richie arrived into the checkpoint at 10:32 with 12 dogs with Pete and the Team just 21 minutes later with 11 in harness.

After an 8 hour rest, both Teams can return to the trail this evening at 6:32 and 6:53 respectively.

This evening the challenge begins towards Kaltag. It’s a long run up the Yukon with great scenery and maybe even the Northern Lights to shine the way!

Go Team Kaiser!!


Iditarod 23- Paws on the Yukon

Good Morning Race Fans!

As we slept, Pete and the Team decided NOT to do their 8 hour in Shageluk and are at this moment just putting their paws onto the frozen Yukon River!

After arriving at 1:08 am and a 7 hour run in from Iditarod, the Team took a 4 hour break and were back on the trail at 5:19 this morning. Pete and pal Richie Diehl are posting nearly identical times over the trail. In fact, the top 5 Teams have pretty close trail times at this point in the race which means the competition is at a fever pitch.

Brent Sass is currently in the lead position having moved through Anvik this morning. Musher Jesse Holmes was the first into the checkpoint at 4:03 this morning and has chosen to take his 8 hour mandatory layover in Anvik before the long run up to Kaltag via Grayling and Eagle Island. This 143 mile stretch up the Yukon has been the source of countless stories over the years with weather, snow, and logistic issues, but given trail conditions so far, Teams may luck out and have a nice run.

We’ll see shortly if Pete decides to keep moving. After a short 3 hour run after a 4 hour break, I’m thinking that he and the Team will push forward at least to Grayling which would make it a 44 mile run.

It’s going to be a banner day of dogsled mushing!

Weather couldn’t be better, maybe a bit warm which will play into Pete’s decision for rest. Better to rest in the warm and run in the cold.

Currently Anvik- Temp 8, NE Winds at 13mph Clear Skies
Today- Sunny, with a high near 20. Northeast wind around 5 mph.
Tonight- Mostly clear, with a low around 6. North wind 5 to 10 mph


Iditarod 23- On the Trail to Shageluk

Shageluk and it’s unique hexagon building awaits

Good evening Race Fans!

The race at the front of the pack is getting exciting with Kuskokwim Bro’s Richie Diehl and Pete Kaiser in good position as they head to the Yukon.

Pete left out of Iditarod at 18:08 with 13 dogs just 22 minutes behind Richie with his 12 dogs.

It is a 54 mile trail from Iditarod to Shageluk, or about the same distance as Tuluksak to Kalskag in the Kuskokwim 300. I see some Teams breaking that run into two runs, while Pete and Richie appear to be going to do it in one. One strategy for camping on the trail would be to go all the way to Grayling (Oops!) Anvik and split that 77 mile run into two 39 mile runs.

Once reaching the Yukon, Teams have to take an 8 hour mandatory layover. Another strategy might be to run into Shageluk and take the 8 hour layover there. Shageluk isn’t directly on the Yukon river, but for the purposes of the race, it is considered one of the places that mushers can decide to take a break.

For some interesting reading, check out this page on the Innoko River, and the people that have lived in the area since pre-historic times.

Weather tonight is still spectacular for mushing– Cold and clear with light wind. Walking out tonight I could see Orion setting in the West and the brilliance of the starry night will definitely be an awesome sight tonight.

It is anyone’s race at this point. Tomorrow is the run up to Kaltag, then it will be over the portage to Unalakleet and by Monday the excitement will be building to a fever pitch!

What a great race!

Go Team Kaiser!!


Iditarod 23- On the Trail to Iditarod

Good Morning Race Fans!

Saying see ya later to one member of the Team last night, Pete and the 13 remaining dogs were out on the trail on time at 22:13 last night. 2 hours and 32 minutes had them into Ophir in 4th position with Kelly Maxiner right on their heels a minute later. After a quick 8 minute stop, the Team was back on the trail to Iditarod.

After 7 hours on the trail, Pete stopped the Team for a break at 5:10 this morning. It is 103 miles from Takotna to Iditarod. Pete is presently resting pretty much halfway on that run. 47 more miles will put them into Iditarod and most likely another break before heading to Shageluk and the Yukon River.

Weather this morning is 3 above, light winds and partially clear skies. The 24 hour layover came at just the perfect time and as forecasted, the Team rested during the warm weather period and left at the beginning of cooler temperatures. This should make for a fast trail if the trail warmed and then cooled. Musher Wade Marrs, first Team into Iditarod, remarked that the trail was smooth and fast. Perfect!

In terms of the outlook, you couldn’t ask for a better weather forecast. A couple of High Pressure areas have moved into the race area and the outlook is for cool temps and light winds for the next several days. Could it be that we see perfect weather for the last half of the race? Cross your fingers!!