Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage

Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage
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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. zhughes [at] alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8424 | @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah

The court's decision voids the contract for renting the Legislative Information Office building, but doesn't spell out what's next. Download Audio

The preliminary budget passed totals $768,401726, a decline of $4,935,000 from what was approved last year.
APD

A new report on policing in Anchorage says the city needs dramatically more officers to meet its public safety goals. Download Audio

As Iditarod mushers continue trickling into Nome, onlookers got a treat as Brent Sass roared at about 11 p.m. Wednesday night.
Brent Sass just couldn't get his dogs to leave White Mountain

As Dallas Seavey was jogging into Nome, his main rival for much of the race, Eureka musher Brent Sass, hadn’t left White Mountain. After barreling down the trail at the front of the pack, Sass’s dogs had had enough.

Many of the Iditarod's most accomplished mushers are struggling with this year's trail. Jeff King lost a sled-dog during an incident outside Nulato with a snowmachine. Just before 10am this morning, Lance Mackey scratched in Galena, citing personal health concerns. And Martin Buser took a spill on the way into Unalakleet that had him blacking out from pain. Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes caught up with Buser to see how he'll make the remainder of his trip to Nome. Download Audio

It was about 7:15am, and Schwing had just seen a press release about a snowmachiner hitting Aily Zirkle and Jeff King en route to Nulato overnight, killing a dog and injuring others. "Zach - get up! GET UP!" I started making calls and poking at the computer while Schwing roused her pilot and basically sprinted toward the plane, and Nulato.

Competition is hardly confined to the front as Iditarod teams sprint along the coast. Mushers in Unalakleet are hoping to hop, skip, and leap-frog their teams toward the top 10.

Nearly thirty Iditarod teams have reached the Bering Sea checkpoint of Unalakleet as of Sunday evening. The race enters its final phase here: a mad push north along the largely treeless coastline, where fast-changing ice conditions and exposure to the wind throw new elements into racers' strategies.

It’s been a week of racing for mushers in the Iditarod, and those in the middle of the pack are struggling. Though, it’s for a variety of different reasons. As Alaska Public Media’s Zachariah Hughes reports, for some the difficulty is the race itself, but for others it’s the challenges inside the lives they’re away from while out on the trail. Download Audio

As top Iditarod teams reached the checkpoint at Galena, several were trying to account for their spots at the top of the pack. Alaska Public Media’s Zachariah Hughes spoke with three mushers surprised for one reason or another with their place in the standings. Download Audio

As Iditarod mushers drive their teams to Nome, a controversial rule-change is casting a shadow over the event. Some are accusing race organizers of siding with corporate sponsors by placing a so-called gag-order on mushers competing in the event. But even critics say that without those sponsor dollars, there might be no race at all.

Aliy Zirkle was the first musher to reach the Yukon River checkpoint of Galena Friday morning. She arrived at 10:46 with 14 dogs. Brent Sass was next into the checkpoint but swiftly moved through without stopping with his 15 dogs. Mitch Seavey pulled into Galena by 2:45.
Jeff King in Ruby. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/KSKA)

One of Jeff King’s prizes for reaching the Yukon River in Ruby before anyone else was a five-course meal supplied by on of the Iditarod’s sponsors. And as Alaska Public Media’s Zachariah Hughes reports, the meal might mean more to the chefs than it does for the musher.

Near the first Iditarod checkpoint on the Yukon River, the Ruby Bible Church was selling a soup and sandwich lunch special for $5. When I arrived, there were three options to pick from, and I went with the "Seven Bean and Black Bear" offering.

Spirits in Takotna were high Thursday morning, with a cluster of well-fed and rested mushers getting set to end their 24-hour rests. The front-runners who rested here like Mitch Seavey and Pete Kaiser roared back onto the trail late last night. The mushers camped out now, like Ryne Olson, are on a different pace. Download Audio

Trail Mix is Alaska Public Media's trail reporters inside look at covering the Iditarod sled dog race. Emily Schwing knows a lot more than I do about reporting on thousand-mile sled-dog races. Like, vastly more....

Dallas Seavey has pushed his team at the front of Iditarod pack into the old gold mining settlement of Cripple. 400 miles into the race, the three-time champion is joined by seven others out of Ophir, including Jeff King, Norwegian Robert Sorlie, and Noah Burmeister. With 14 dogs in harness, Dallas Seavey wins the Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award: $3,000 in gold nuggets. Download Audio
The Berington sisters arrived at the Takotna checkpoint together Wednesday just before noon. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/KSKA)

There's really not a lot of "planning" for this. I'm only two days in, and I feel like more attention goes towards tracking flights, coordinating deadlines, and finding Internet than it does to figuring out who's at the front of the race and why.

Mushers have reached a point in the Iditarod where rest becomes strategic. Overnight, a number of them opted to push their teams further down the trail, while others chose to hunker down for a mandatory 24-hour rest. The majority of mushers who arrived first into McGrath, didn’t stay long, but some of their decisions earlier in the race, might offer clues about their race plans.