Emily Schwing, APRN Contributor
For decades, a few big name mushers have dominated the standings in the Iditarod, but after decades of racing, many of them are reconsidering their priorities. Professional mushing may be in the midst of a “changing of the guard” as a small group of young mushers start to post top finishing times.
The top-10 Iditarod mushers have arrived safely in Nome and their sled dogs are tucked in for a long rest in the dog yard. For most of the front-runners, a top-10 finish is nothing new.
Dallas Seavey is the winner of the 2015 Iditarod. This is his third win in four years. The 27-year old musher says he’s not the only young member of his team. Many of his dogs are only three years old. Some sled dogs can race beyond the age of eight. Seavey says his team has a long future of competitive mushing ahead.
Dallas Seavey crossed under the burled arch in Nome at 4:13 a..m. Wednesday, securing his second-consecutive Iditarod win, and his third four years. He made the 22 mile run from Safety, the Iditarod’s final stop before the finish line in Nome, in three hours.
The top teams have left White Mountain and they are on their way to the Iditarod finish line in Nome. Spectators are unlikely to see a major shakeup in the front end of the field, but this year’s race is likely to end with career bests for many of the teams up front.
Dallas Seavey was the first musher to arrive in White Mountain Tuesday morning. It’s the second to last stop along the Iditarod trail. Teams will take an eight-hour mandatory rest there, before the make the final push for Nome.
Front running teams are making their way for White Mountain Tuesday morning.
In the final push for Nome, Iditarod mushers are making big moves and cutting rest, but fresh snow, and drifted trail isn’t only slowing the leaders – trail conditions have also slowed dog teams in chase mode.
Iditarod teams that reach the coast at Unalakleet will run into a fierce windstorm and blowing snow.
Iditarod teams began the final push up the Bering Sea Coast Sunday night. Everything from the condition of the dogs, to the weather can change dramatically and quickly on the sea ice, and that has mushers scrutinizing their own decisions and those made by their fellow competitors.
Iditarod teams are making their way for the Bering Sea Coast, after days of travel along the frozen Yukon River and through the Interior’s boreal forest.
According to the Iditarod race rules, teams have to rest for 24 hours somewhere along the trail. They also have to take an eight-hour mandatory rest before they leave the Yukon River and again near the end of the race.
This year’s race reroute has left even the most seasoned of Iditarod mushers feeling like rookies. Race leaders won’t start to appear until after teams complete their mandatory layovers and make up their start time differentials.
Mushers are allowed to start the Iditarod with a maximum of 16 dogs. More than a third of way into the race, many teams are still that large because of a combination of easy-going river miles, good dog care and support from fellow mushers.
Huslia marks the halfway point along this year’s Iditarod Trail. Many mushers are looking forward to leaving the Yukon River and heading for the tiny Interior village.
Race Update: 5:45 p.m. Aaron Burmeister was leading a pack of mushers into Huslia early Thursday evening. He was running ahead of a small group that included Martin Buser, Thomas Waerner, and Dallas Seavey.
Whether sled dogs are in need of rest will start to show as teams near the halfway mark in this year’s race. More mushers than ever are towing trailers behind their sleds to carry dogs as they travel down the trail. The jury is still out on whether the method actually does benefit dogs.
Mushers have been travelling this year’ Iditarod trail from Fairbanks with few complains, but after the left Tanana Wednesday, they found a slow, soft trail.
Denali musher Jeff King led the Iditarod front-runners into Galena…with Aliy Zirkle and Aaron Burmeister arriving around an hour and a half later. The Iditarod saw its first scratch of the race, as Zoya DeNure made the decision in Tanana, citing personal reasons.
Race Update 6:00 pm: Five mushers were closing in on Ruby. The group of leaders included Mitch Seavey, Dallas Seavey, Aaron Burmeister, Martin Buser and Aliy Zirkle. The Mackey brothers were taking a layover in Tanana.
The Mackey family has long been known as a mushing dynasty within the Iditarod community. Patriarch Dick Mackey won the race in 1978. Years later, Lance Mackey claimed four championships in a row. Little brother Jason just might take on the most meaningful race of his life. When Jason Mackey arrived in Tanana, he was not feeling good about his dog team.
Travelling a thousand miles by dog team can be exciting, but many of those miles can also be repetitive, so many mushers carry iPods stocked with music, audio books, and even movies.