Critical Section

Iditarod: halfway Nome

Saturday,  03/14/20  11:37 PM

Jessie Royer and teamHi Iditarodians – I’m sure you’ve all been closely following the Iditarod sled dog race, right? (With everything cancelled, there’s nothing else to watch)

The leaders have been mushing along the Yukon River and have now left the last Yukon checkpoint of Kaltag, making the long run to Unalakleet on the coast of the Bering Sea. The weather has warmed up and with all the snow that’s fallen recently, it’s made for heavy going. This is not going to be a record year.

Thomas Waerner and teamRight now surprise contender Thomas Waerner is leading by about 8 miles over longtime competitor Aaron Burmeister, with another veteran Jesse Royer a mile behind him.

That’s Thomas and his team at left – sporting the spiffy orange jackets - and Jesse and her team above right.

Brent Sass and teamBrent Sass is fourth, still in Kaltag, waiting out his mandatory 8 hour rest*, as is fifth-placed Peter Kaiser, the defending champion. But sixth place Wade Marrs is also there and has already completed his 8, so he’ll likely leave first and then be running fourth.

* each team is required to take a 24 hour rest somewhere along the trail, an 8 hour rest on the Yukon River, and an 8 hour rest in the penultimate checkpoint at White Mountain

Right: Brent Sass and his team mushing along the frozen Yukon River

Nic Petit and team2018 champion Joar-Leifseth Ulsom is “only” in 8th, three-time champion Mitch Seavey is back in 10th, and four-time champion Lance Mackey is 15th. The snowy slow conditions have definitely altered the race.

You may remember the last two years Nic Petit was leading coming out onto Norton Sound, and both years his team had issues and self-destructed. This year he’s back in 21st, taking it easier.

Left: Nic Petit and his team coming into Nulato checkpoint

So how about our favorite Jim Lanier? Well sadly, he was the first team to scratch, after having serious problems in Rainy Pass crossing the Alaska Range. Since then I’ve been rooting for Jesse… Cheers and please stay tuned for more!

Richie Diehl mushes into Ruby

Richie Diehl and team

Joar-Leifseth Ulsom and Thomas Waener talk strategy in Ruby checkpoint

Joar-Leifseth Ulsom and Thomas Waerner

Best in show: Kristovan, Aaron Burmeister’s leader, during a break Iditarod

Kristovan, Aaron Burmeister's lead dog

GPS tracker view of the entire route. Still about 400 miles remaining: the long trek down to the coast, then up and across the ice of Norton Sound, and then the wild and windy trek along the shore into Nome.

GPS tracker as of 3/14/20 at 23:55PM PST


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