Keep your friends close and your competitors closer.
When Joar and Jessie saw Pete pull into Old Woman on the Portage trail, in the back of their minds were heard a collective sigh. They just knew that Pete wouldn’t let them get too far out of sight.
Joar arrived first at 9:25, followed by Jessie at 9:45 and Pete at 10:15am. This means that Pete had gained 30 minutes on Jessie as he left an hour after her out of Kaltag.
Joar and Jessie left at 2:00pm followed quickly by Pete 15 minutes later.
Pete is in full on race mode as he has now trimmed another 15 minutes from the lead of Jessie and almost an hour from Joar. If the Team performs like it did yesterday, Pete is just where he needs to be to catch Nic if the Girdwood musher makes a mistake.
All four mushers that camped at Old Woman now have a 4 hour break under their belts and will quickly move through Unalakleet towards Shaktoolik. The wildcard in the mix is Mitch Seavey, whom the Iditarod Insiders think is sitting back waiting for the same thing. They have continued to discount Pete Kaiser, though, and I am seeing the same strategy with Pete that we often see with Mitch– Gain extra minutes by staying with the pack you want to pass and move when they move. With a good team and adequate rest this is totally possible.
As I said earlier, the trail from Shaktoolik to Koyuk is an unknown. Coupled with the fact that the trail from Unalakleet to Koyuk traditionally has cost Teams valuable time. A few years ago Wade Marrs and Pete were virtually stopped on the trail in a freak ground blizzard. (Read the story here)
This totally has to be on Pete’s mind as he pushes forward almost hoping for a little help from mother nature. One other detail is that Unalakleet is almost Pete’s home court. He won the Paul Johnson here in a blizzard and his dogs teams seem to do well here.
Unalakleet weather right now is warm and not too windy. So warm that a blizzard or blowing snow is a unlikely, but who knows. Weather cams show fog or snow showers to the hills to the North.Another item of note is that there is no sea ice at Unalakleet– None. Waves are crashing on sand beaches. It is virtually unheard of.
I love the last Sunday of the Iditarod! So much to see and hear and butterflies in the stomach are the order of the day!
Go Team Kaiser!
From Zachariah Hughes via Twitter Universe: