Susan Bucknell, KOTZ – Kotzebue
The Kobuk 440 is underway. By 4:00 o’clock Friday afternoon, eight teams were into the Ambler Checkpoint; Ken Anderson arrived first at 1:37, then Chuck Schaeffer at 2:07, followed closely by Cyndi Barrand and Pete Kaiser. John Schandelmeier pulled in at 2:58, followed by Hugh Neff and Brent Sass. Richie Diehl reached the Ambler checkpoint at 3:42.
Seventeen teams are in the 440 mile middle distance race. The race has a 12-dog limit, and 20 total hours of rest time are required at checkpoints along the trail. The guaranteed purse this year is $50,000, with the winner taking $12,000.
There was a surprise at the start line on Thursday, with John Schandelmeier on the runners instead of his wife Zoya Denure, who injured her knee.
At last report, the teams into Ambler are still there, resting in the heat of the day. In the long Arctic daylight, with bright sun reflecting off the snow, dogs can get overheated. Also, trails get soft, so mushers save energy by resting during the hot hours, running early in the day, or at night.
Download Audio (MP3)
Click the link below to listen to a phone an interview with 440 veteran and 2011 race organizer Tracey Schaeffer, reached by phone at camp where she’s following the race online. She tells where to find the 440 spot-tracker info online, how the top teams are doing between Kiana and Ambler, and about required rest times.