Emily Schwing, KUAC - Fairbanks
Emily Schwing is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.
As teams come off their mandatory 24-hour rest and head for the Yukon River, they’ll be thinking of how best to pick up the pace in what is turning out to be one of the most dramatic, but also the most competitive races in Iditarod history.
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s rough run through the Dalzell Gorge and into Nikolai, many Iditarod mushers have had to act fast to change their race plans.
The Iditarod trail continued to claim victims through Tuesday. Reports of everything from broken ankles to broken hands came filtering back from Rohn and Nikolai. It will take a combination of resilience and persistence for mushers to keep moving down the trail.
The Iditarod race leaders left the checkpoint of Nikolai around mid day today. Sonny Lindner, Hugh Neff, Aliy Zirkle and Nicolas Petit pulled out of Nikolai within an hour of each other. But five mushers, including DeeDee Jonrowe and Jake Berkowitz scratched today, because of broken equipment that was damaged on the extremely rough trail out of Rainy Pass.
Iditarod mushers are working hard to hold back teams on what has been an icy, hard packed trail. A snowless, rocky stretch of trail through a burn will slow them down, but most mushers are riding their brakes.
Teams are making their way into Rainy Pass as they head trough the Alaska Range. It’s arguably the toughest stretch of trail. Many say they’re ready for the challenge, including a contingent of Norwegians who are in Alaska to find out how their dog teams fare on this side of the world.
The 42nd annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race is underway. Dog teams left Willow Sunday. They’re making their way toward the Alaska Range, where the trail is reportedly extremely rough.
On Saturday, mushers lined out their dog teams in downtown Anchorage for the Ceremonial Start of the race. This year’s race includes six former champions and at least 20 mushers vying for a top-10 finish.
The Yukon Quest has once again proven itself as one of the toughest races in the Far North. Of the 18 mushers who signed up for this year’s race, only eleven may finish. The race has claimed rookies, and seasoned veterans alike, but there are still a handful of teams plugging along toward the finish line outside of Whitehorse. KUAC’s Emily Schwing caught up with the “Kiwi Musher” and has this profile.
The Yukon Quest Race Organization held a press conference with Brent Sass this morning (Tuesday). The musher discussed the accident that led to a serious concussion and took him out of this year’s race. The musher was emotional, but he’s confident about his future mushing career.
Allen Moore has won the Yukon Quest International Sled dog Race for the second consecutive year. Moore’s team is known for its petite stature, perky ears and wagging tails and they didn’t disappoint. They jumped in harness and yelped after arriving at Takhini Hot Springs 30 miles outside of Whitehorse.
Despite the effort of trailbreakers, Mother Nature has thrown plenty at mushers during the race. Almost every team has arrived with a story about a mishap on the trail.
A fast pace at the front of the pack has Yukon Quest teams spread out over nearly 200 miles of trail. Cody Strathe who’s running in 4th place isn’t expected into Dawson City until the early evening, roughly 18 hours after the first team arrived at the half way point.
The top three Yukon Quest teams arrived in Eagle in the wee hours of Monday morning, well ahead of schedule. It was clear as they relayed their tales that teams are starting to strategize as they near the half-way mark in this year’s race.
Not everyone who signs up for the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race actually gets a dog team to the start line. When sign-ups opened last fall, at least two women added their names to the roster, but one dropped out two weeks ago. That leaves one woman in a field of 18 mushers.
Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race Officials are keeping a close eye on the weather and trail conditions as they prepare for the starts of the 1000 mile race this Saturday.
President Barack Obama declared a federal Disaster for Alaska Thursday, making federal dollars available for victims of storms that occurred back in November.