Iditarod Field Notes: #5

Blog and Photo by Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Monday Morning in Unalakleet

Top drivers moved out with the Unalakleet wind Sunday night or early this morning.

Lance Mackey and Jeff King moved up to Shaktoolik against biting winds. Race leaders now into and out of Koyuk. But back in downtown Unk, there is the slow, quiet feel of a Sunday morning. Mushers still coming in, but more relaxed.

Jason Barron tells me this mad push for faster and faster runs will take its toll eventually. He chats over breakfast with the Yukon’s Michelle Phillips, red faced from the wind, just off the trail and laughing over breakfast. They swap advice on how much downtime to take in Unk. Talkeetna’s Gerry Sousa in after feeding his team. He’s relaxed and ready for more trail time.

Last night, Martin Buser, Rick Swenson, and Sonny Lindner showed up one at a time like subway cars. Buser in high spirits, chatting with friends and tourists. Swenson, cranky as a grizzley – Lindner relaxed and chatty and ready to get back to the trail. He says he’s exactly where he wants to be.

Gerry Sousa tells me at breakfast about the reserve energy dogs have, that most mushers won’t want to tap into until the end. Dogs have a built in safety factor he says. They simply won’t go when the gas tank is dry.