Update — 11.am – Wesley Early –
According to race standings, Aliy Zirkle reached the Iditarod checkpoint at 1:38 a.m. on Thursday.
A little before 8 p.m. last night, Iditarod mushers started to come off their 24-hour mandatory rests. The first was Joar Liefseth Ulsom, who pulled out of Takotna with 13 dogs.
A wave of front-pack mushers followed Ulsom in the hours after. Not far ahead, another group that pushed on to the Ophir checkpoint will also begin making the 80-mile leg to Iditarod. By Wednesday night, several Takotna mushers were beginning to wonder how much of a slog that run will be. Aliy Zirkle and Martin Buser spent much of the day pushing to get there before declaring their 24s. Zirkle’s average moving pace was low, as was Buser’s, suggesting the trail is challenging and slow.
What’s more, it’s been warm around the three Yukon communities mushers will
hit after Iditarod. Race judge Karin Hendrickson says that’s led drop bags in Shageluk to thaw.
“So that can affect the meat, and we just let ‘em know in case they want to change up their plans a little bit or possibly haul some extra meat out of Iditarod, just trying to adapt, just make sure they have the information they need.”
The trail between Iditarod and Shageluk is slow and hilly, meaning any extra supplies mushers pack on a sled will weigh them down even more. It’s not uncommon for drop bags to thaw, but it increases the risk a team could get spoiled meat. Mushers who planned to take their mandatory 8 hour rests in Shageluk may push 26 miles up river to the check point in Anvik to avoid that.