39 minutes separate Dallas Seavey from his father, Mitch Seavey, in the final stretch of the 2016 Iditarod. Brent Sass is in pursuit in the third position as the race comes to a sprint finish.
Dallas Seavey pulled into White Mountain at 9:48 Monday–the exact same time of his record-setting 2014 win. But between White Mountain and Nome that year, a ground blizzard ended the race for then-leader Jeff King, and Dallas pushed through the Safety checkpoint and past Aliy Zirkle for the win.
The mushers have prepared their teams and themselves for a year for this moment: at this point, the fastest, strongest dog team wins. The race pushes on Monday to White Mountain and beyond, where a final-eight hour rest grooms teams for the last 77 miles to the burled arch Nome.
Here’s what you need to read to get up to speed on Iditarod 44.
1. And then there were three
Dallas and Mitch Seavey have combined to win the last four Iditarods, and we could see a fifth title going to the Seavey family by early Tuesday. But Brent Sass is pushing from the third position. All three men have a district brand of intensity. KNOM’s Emily Schwing was in the Koyuk checkpoint Sunday night and witnessed the endgame intensity of Mitch and Dallas Seavey play out in in real time.
“On one side of the ice-covered street was the black team, led by Dallas Seavey, the youthful former wrestling champ, frantic to stray ahead.
He thrashed about, slamming bags of frozen meat on the ground to break the chunks inside apart. His gear was spread everywhere. He tossed small bits of gear around and rifled through plastic bags of everything from dog booties to hand warmers, stocking up on what he needed, discarding everything else.
On the other side, the red team – led by the elder, Mitch Seavey. He moved a little slower, at one point pulling an insulated bucket he uses to hold dog food out of his sled bag so he could sit on it while he transferred gear from his drop bags.”
2. Nulato man sees his day court after nighttime collision with dog team
The man facing 12 charges for hitting Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle’s dog teams with his snowmachine Friday night was arraigned in court Sunday. The impact killed one of King’s dogs, Nash, and injured several more. One of Zirkle’s dogs had to be dropped after the incident. While 26-year-old Arnold Demoski has been forthcoming in the press, apologizing and saying that he was driving drunk at the time,
Dermot Cole and Chris Klint at Alaska Dispatch News chronicled the start of Demoski’s court case.
“Demoski appeared by video from the Fairbanks Correctional Center and said little during the afternoon hearing, other than that he had received a copy of the complaint.
His bail was set at $50,000, but Magistrate Romano DiBenedetto said that if prosecutors had asked for bail 10 times that amount, he probably would have granted it.
The judge said nothing has been proven and that press interest is irrelevant to his decision, but “if these allegations are proven to a jury, it could amount to be an act of terrorism, quite frankly.”
3. The mushers who stared into the abyss, and yelled “hike!”
If the Iditarod is used as a metaphor for difficult journeys, at least it’s a good one. KSKA’s Zachariah Hughes caught up with a few of the 2016 racers for whom a 10-day race is not their steepest challenge. He speaks with Karin Hendrickson, who is racing after a 2014 training accident broke her back. And DeeDee Jonrowe, the cancer survivor who last year lost her home and possessions in the Sockeye wildfire and is simply doing what she has done thirty times before: running her team to Nome.
“I’ve had a bad year, I lost everything I own, and chose these dogs over everything I own. And faced with that, this is what I took: my dogs,” said Jonrowe.
Jonrowe is having trouble fixing a runner, and gets a little help from Tore Albrigtsen, who’s camping next to her.
She is exhausted and hungry, but signs autographs and chats amicably in spite of it. She didn’t train to compete for a top spot this year, just be alone with her dogs to clear her head.
“I’ve struggled plenty, I know how to struggle,” said Jonrowe.
Reporter: “So this is easy then?”
“Compared to what I’ve been through the last few years, this is a piece of cake,” said Jonrowe.
Complete Iditarod coverage is at alaskapublic.org/Iditarod.