Iditarod Field Notes #3

Blog and Photos by Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

We wait till about 2:30 am in the race headquarters. And wait and wait. A nice lady and gentleman bring in pots of homemade stew and chocolate chip cookies.

Snowmachiners drop in with the latest info.. he’s seven miles out…then four…as one, we all bundle up at the 4-mile report and head down to the checkpoint.

It is minus 30 degrees F.  The stars brilliant in the inky Unalakleet sky.

Standing there, it is so cold, my thumbs are freezing. It is a really long 20 minutes or so wait,  but finally someone distinguishes a faint light coming over the hill and heading toward the slough..

It’s him.  Everyone pushes forward,  Race Marshall Nordman orders a path cleared, and in a few moments more, Lance Mackey and team arrive at Unalakleet checkpoint to a cheering crowd.  Snomachines buzz around and flash bulbs pop.  The Iditarod Insider crew tapes it all.

Mackey beds down his dogs, checks his sled bag, receives an award from Wells Fargo, collects booties. Seemingly in one motion.

He doesn’t  miss a beat.  He gets water, hosts an impromptu q and a with reporters, changes his socks and boots and heads back to the checkpoint to cook dog stew and feed his team. He’s bummed that quite a bit of his team’s meat thawed out and froze again. He won’t feed that to the dogs he says. He’s going to rest here a while.  The crowd goes home. Snowmachiners drop in with the news. Jeff King is 18 miles out.  No, maybe closer.  At 5:40 am, they say he’s about seven miles out, traveling 8 mph.

Mackey has gone to bed. King’s still on the trail.