Iditapod 2018

The Iditapod is back! In partnership with KNOM Radio, Alaska Public Media brings you a podcast about the 2018 Iditarod. Host Casey Grove and correspondents, Zachariah Hughes and Davis Hovey, will take you out on the trail -- into checkpoints, down along the sea ice and across the finish line in Nome. Hear interviews with mushers, behind-the-scenes news, and in-depth race analysis you won't find anywhere else. You can listen to the Iditapod here or subscribe on iTunes or whichever podcast app you use. Support for the 2018 Iditapod from Alaska Public Media is brought to you by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

It's Monday and the frontrunners in the 2018 Iditarod are on the Bering Sea coast, venturing out on a trail over sea ice from Shaktoolik to Koyuk. Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes caught up with the top three -- Nicolas Petit, Mitch Seavey, Joar Leifseth Ulsom -- in Unalakleet on Sunday, as well as the legendary musher DeeDee Jonrowe, who scratched earlier in what she says was her last Iditarod after 36 total starts. We also hear from a Norwegian mushing reporter on four-time Iditarod champ Dallas Seavey's foray into the Finnmarksløpet, Europe's longest sled dog race.

As Girdwood's Nicolas Petit, Norwegian Joar Leifseth Ulsom and defending champ Mitch Seavey lead a chase pack to Unalakleet and the Bering Sea coast, we talk to Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes about how the 2018 Iditarod shaped up like this and how that chase pack got so bunched up. Also on today's Iditapod, we have a report from KCAW's Katherine Rose about a way for Iditarod fans around the world to get connected to the race: fantasy mushing.

With the Iditarod leaders on the mighty Yukon River and through the village checkpoint of Grayling, we hear about how weather prevented flying supplies to Eagle Island and caused the checkpoint to be downgraded to a mere "hospitality stop." That's why mushers scrambled to get mandatory rest in earlier and why they had to load up on supplies before one of the most formidable overnight trips of the race. Plus, back in Takotna, the village reflects on why it's been so steady as a checkpoint over the years, and we hear from KYUK's Johanna Eurich about what it used to be like covering the Last Great Race.

Friday morning saw Girdwood musher Nicolas Petit charge ahead leading the 2018 Iditarod to Anvik after passing teams resting in the ghost town checkpoint of Iditarod. As the first to reach the Yukon River, Petit is treated to a five-course meal. The main course is bison, which is an animal Whitehorse's Marcelle Fressineau encountered very much alive and not on a dinner plate farther back on the trail. We talk to Fressineau about how she fended off the bison with an axe, as well as some of the Alaska Native mushers in the race.

As Iditarod mushers decide when and where to take their mandatory 24-hour layovers, the leaders are in to the ghost town of Iditarod. And our trail reporters are breaking into their snack packs! Also, we hear from a Takotna elder about the moose he shot and fed at the village checkpoint.

A lot has happened since the last podcast: Willow musher DeeDee Jonrowe has scratched in her 36th Iditarod, which she said would be her last. Meantime, front-of-the-pack mushers are taking their 24-hour layovers, so this is a good time to talk about how times are adjusted to correct from the staggered, every-two-minute race starts. Plus: More off-trail drama related to dogs and drugs! Sheesh! We talk to a fellow Iditarod reporter about what has been described as a confrontational encounter between the race's head toxicologist and a musher right before the official start on Sunday.

Things get pretty technical for Iditarod mushers heading out of the Rainy Pass checkpoint and into the Dalzell Gorge before Rohn and Nikolai. Plus, we hear from animal-rights activist and documentary filmmaker Fern Levitt, and we get four-time Iditarod Jeff King's take on criticism of dog mushing.

In less than 24 hours, the Iditarod front-runners have made it to the Finger Lake checkpoint, 123 miles into the 1,000-mile race. But not before checking in at Yentna and Skwentna, the first two checkpoints after leaving Willow. And, even before that, KNOM's Davis Hovey caught up with two top candidates for Rookie of the Year: Two Rivers' Matt Hall and Nenana's Jessie Holmes.

Mushers in the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race are officially on course for the 1,000-mile trek to Nome after the restart in Willow. We take a rather, uh, unique question from a listener, and Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes does whatever it takes to get an interview.

The 2018 Iditarod kicks off with the ceremonial start in Anchorage and an 11-mile jaunt through downtown and the city's trails, past race revelers that call themselves "trailgaters." We introduce KNOM News Director and trail reporter Davis Hovey, and hear from DeeDee Jonrowe, Nicolas Petit and some of the folks along the trail.

We talk about this year's Kuskokwim 300, touch on the importance of mid-distance mushing races leading up to the Iditarod and talk to KUAC-FM reporter Zoe Rom about covering the Yukon Quest, Alaska's other 1,000-mile sled dog race. Also: We talk about the Anchorage ceremonial start, who we expect to see running at the front of the pack and answer our first listener question!

We look at three major problems hitting Alaska's mushing community ahead of the Iditarod. The Anchorage Daily News' Tegan Hanlon and Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes sit down with host Casey Grove to discuss the whirlwind of recent news, including a doping scandal, musher mutiny, and increasing pressure from animal rights groups.

In Episode 1, we take a look back at the 2017 Iditarod and hear some of the boots-on-the-ground perspective on Mitch Seavey's record-breaking speed, the physical toll on his son Dallas Seavey and more from our reporters on the trail: Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes and Ben Matheson, who was working for Nome radio station KNOM.