Iditarod Loop Strategy

Shageluk Weather

Shageluk is the closest webcam to Iditarod. This is pointing to the East and the Iditarod hills. Blinding Sunshine and perfect mushing weather!

Good afternoon Race Fans!

Ron Kaiser and Regina Johnson have been chawing at the bit to see if the guys would ever get moving or not! One thing to know about Pete Kaiser? He ALWAYS has a plan. (We just aren’t tuned into it!)

After a long 7 hour run, Pete, along with Richie and Joar, took 5 hours at the shelter cabin. It seemed kind of odd to take a break there, but as Sterling Rearden noticed, it looks like they are breaking the McGrath to Iditarod to McGrath into 5 runs. What this means is after they reach Iditarod, instead of breaking, they will resupply and head North immediately. This does several things, it keeps them away from everyone else (Covid or not) and keeps the runs and rests consistent. Last night I honestly didn’t think Pete would rest in Ophir, but he was putting rest in the tank, so to speak, for the long run ahead.

Now, after a 5 hour break, I’d almost bet they will go to Iditarod, turn around and head North another 50 miles or so. Basically they are breaking the Ophir to Iditarod to Ophir loop into 3 segments.

Initially I thought that Pete would take his 8 hours in Iditarod, but Ron is thinking that Pete and others will take their last 8 hour break closer to heading up the Alaska Range. It could be McGrath or even Nikolai. Maybe even Rohn. Either way, the trio of Teams now have a short 14 mile run into Iditarod where they will grab some food and straw and head back to the trail.

Weather in the area is again, AWESOME!! Temperatures are just above zero with calm winds and blinding sunshine. The dogs and mushers both are happy. I never really know how the trail is until after it’s over, but Teams are making good times, so I’m thinking it’s not horrible 🙂

It’s going to be another exciting evening as we see Iditarod Checkpoint Teams come off their 24 hour rest about the same time that Pete and the boys do their turnaround. One other consideration is hopefully the trail is wide enough for passing as this is the first Iditarod in history where Teams will meet each other in the night going opposite directions. After the turnaround Teams heading North will begin to encounter Teams headed South. Although this is a first for the Iditarod, it is a normal race for the Bogus Creek 150 and even the K300 this year in Bethel. I am only worried about surprises, so mushers will need to stay alert this evening.

Day 4 and it’s exciting already!!

Go Team Kaiser!!




Good Morning Race Fans!

What an epic run over the night while we slept!

Pete and the Team are running with Richie and Joar out of McGrath. They all took a 3 hour break in Ophir before heading South to the halfway point in Iditarod.

Temperatures are cold, but while Bethel is having a blizzard, the weather for the Teams on the trail is clear and beautiful.

The trio has been steadily gaining on Dallas Seavey and Travis Beals and got within two miles of them. Ron and I were strategizing what might be the plan, when their trackers went orange and ‘resting.’ Hmmm, I thought until I zoomed in and realized that they are all holed up in a BLM Safety cabin about 14 miles from Iditarod. AWESOME! I had been thinking they might head into Iditarod and take a long break, but this means they are breaking the 180 miles into three segments. After a 7 hour run, they are now resting for probably 3-4 hours. The safety cabin has all the comforts of home with bunks, a woodstove, and even an outhouse! The same kind of cabin is at Old Woman and Rohn.

Lots more of the race to go, but for Pete, Richie, and Joar, they are having a great time. Nothing like sharing the trail with guys that share your interest, racing, dog care, and lifestyle. To think that -25 and sleep deprivation is fun for thes guys! Haha! But I’d imagine they are totally in their element.

We’ll keep you posted!

Go Team Kaiser!!



Cold Trail Tonight

Pete and Richie were out, right on time, at 18:59, of the McGrath checkpoint and their 24 hour layover.

They are just through Takotna, which although it isn’t a checkpoint, allows us to gauge their speeds against Teams traveling in front of them. Overall, they both are just a few minutes faster than pretty much everyone in front.

Tonight the trail will take them towards Ophir and then hang a left South towards the Iditarod Checkpoint and the halfway point of the race. I am expecting them to break the 121 mile run into two sections, which will mean camping on the trail tonight.

Weather in the area is expected to be pretty chilly, with temperatures in the mid -20 to -30 degrees. Unfortunately wind tonight is also an issue. Generally interior cold weather is accompanied by still air, but tonight winds in McGrath is 10-15 mph. This doesn’t sound like much, but with such cold temperatures it will lower the windchill into the -40’s and below.

The good news is a cold trail can harden the trail and make it a bit faster. For a great detail of the race route, visit the Iditarod Description here.

This is one of the emptiest legs on the entire race, a full 90 miles of lonely country and endless trail.  — Iditarod Description of Ophir to Iditarod

Consider that as empty as this route is for Teams, they will have to do it twice. It is going to be easily the most mind challenging stretch of trail. 180 miles with one checkpoint in the middle. Tonight will be the easy part. Coming back, sleep deprived mushers will face the mental challenges that only a long distance dogsled musher can relate. Hence the term, “mile and miles of miles…”

See ya in the morning!

Go Team Kaiser!!



Pete’s Out Time from McGrath

Pete was into McGrath at 17:29.

Pete was into McGrath at 17:29. The formula for adjustment is the number of mushers the bib number times 2 for the differential between each musher.

For Pete that’s 48 – 3 for 435 times 2 = 90 or 1 hour 30 minutes added to his in time in McGrath. He can leave at 18:59. Notable is that Richie Diehl can leave at the exact same time. Richie arrived 6 minute after Pete, but that 6 minutes is made up by the differential.


Flat Gold Loop Cancelled

Teams in the 2021 Iditarod will now turn around at Iditarod and head back to Deshka Landing.

For additional information, including Iditarod press pool assets, visit’s Press & Media section.


March 10, 2021

Iditarod Gold Loop Trail condition update from Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman: 

Due to challenging trail conditions in to and at Flat, I have made the decision to have the Iditarod mushers bypass the out-and-back route to Flat and instead turn around at the Iditarod checkpoint.

The Iditarod trailbreaker crew has had a challenging time breaking the trail open due to the sheer volume of accumulated snow, and has been unable to dig out a safe, well-marked trail to allow teams to travel to Flat. This decision does not affect any mandatory layovers.


Note: the Iditarod/Flat/Iditarod loop is approximately 20 miles in length, so the new total  trail length of the Iditarod Gold Trail Loop is approximately 832 miles. 

Media contact:

Bri Kelly, Thompson & Co. Public Relations



Resting in McGrath

Howdy Race Fans!

Team Kaiser Pit Crew was celebratory last night as Pete and Richie arrived into McGrath to begin their 24 hour layovers.

This year layovers are a bit different and in some ways match the K300.

From “Mushers must take a total of 40 hours of mandatory layover time in the 852-mile, round-trip race: an eight-hour break somewhere between the two checkpoint stops in Rohn (northbound and southbound), a 24-hour layover anywhere before and including the Iditarod checkpoint, and eight hours in Skwentna on their southbound journey. Skwentna is 67 miles from the finish line in Deshka Landing.”

What this means is we are going to see quite a difference in layover strategy as Teams make their way around the “Gold Loop.”

Pete and Richie, as well as many others, have opted to take their 24 hour layover a bit early in McGrath instead of moving up towards the other alternative, Ophir. McGrath has a few more amenities in terms of water and a place to stay, so I’m thinking that the boys are strategizing that they’ll take one last easy break before taking the loop up to Iditarod and back that will require trail camping.

Kaiser Racing readers will know I love to analyze and look at numbers… One thing that has been on my mind is how this is a shorter race and traditional checkpoints are altered in terms miles versus total miles. McGrath seemed a bit early to take a 24 hour layover.

As per usual, Pete and Richie are way ahead of me!!

I did a trail comparison between a traditional Northern Route race and this Gold Loop race which is almost 112 miles shorter. What I found was that in a traditional race, Pete lays over in Takotna. Takotna is mile 318 of 964, or 33% of the race completed.

In this year’s race, McGrath is mile 295 of 852 total miles, or 35% of the race completed. In this year’s shorter race, Teams stopping in McGrath are actually further down the trail than a traditional longer race!

Gold Loop Iditarod

Gold Loop Iditarod

Northern Route Iditarod

Northern Route Iditarod

Team Kaiser’s pit crew welcomed Ron home from the Start last night and he brought presents to those of us that couldn’t make the trip. Somehow he found a brewery in Anchorage that makes Real Diehl Ale!  Odd Man  Rush Brewing in Eagle River had a special run of the brew and Ron gathered a bunch to bring back for all of us. In the meantime, Kaiser Racing’s trail pilot, Mike Hoffman, had just come back from delivering Richie’s Trophy to his parents in Aniak and brought back some pizza from Esther Diehl’s Hound House Pizza. As Pete rested, Team Kaiser celebrated both the Kusko Boys as they are doing awesome on the trail. New CDC guidelines allowed us to gather after having completed our shots weeks ago! A welcome change after a year of separation.

Here’s to the Kusko Boys!

Go Team Kaiser!



Epic Run in the Sun!

Pete and the Team are into McGrath in second position followed closely by Richie and Joar. Team Kaiser had a real nice run into the checkpoint and Ron is ecstatic. The live cam missed Pete into the checkpoint, but Richie and Joar’s Teams looked excellent.

Dallas Seavey was first into the checkpoint about 1 hour 30 minutes in the lead. He left, though, about two hours ahead of Pete, so that makes up about 30 minutes of trail time.

What a great day of mushing!

More details to come, but as it stands now, the pit crew is celebrating from afar!

Go Team Kaiser!!


McGrath in the Sunshine

Pete left out of Nikolai just before 11 after a 4 hour rest. He’s traveling with Richie Diehl and Joar Leifseth-Ulsom. This isn’t the first race that the trio has raced together and in the blinding sunshine of the warm day, it’s most likely mushing nirvana. It’s a bit warm, but with good friends and a nice day, how could it get better.

McGrath awaits and then it’s the unknown. The traditional Takotna layover is off the table and McGrath is actually about 10 or more miles sooner because of the shorter trail. I actually have no idea of what Pete is thinking for the 24hour layover strategy. Without a coast run, all previous strategies lay in the wastebasket.

Dallas Seavey still leads the race and Pete and Richie will have time added to their layovers as they left near the front of the Starting Line, so it’s hard to see how Teams are stacked up.

It seems a bit early for 24 hour layovers, but as Teams reach McGrath, it will be interesting to see how this next 100 miles shakes out.

Go Team Kaiser!!